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“City of Edinburg Public Affairs Liaison” set to receive 5,000 from Edinburg EDC during noon meeting on Tuesday, December 18, at City Hall

Featured: Fall 2018 graduates Ricardo Rendón and Samantha Muñoz rang the bell at the end of the ceremonies to ring in the success of all graduates. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley continued with Fall 2018 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, December 15, at the McAllen Convention Center where close to 2,000 earned their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

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“City of Edinburg Public Affairs Liaison” set to receive $105,000 from Edinburg EDC during noon meeting on Tuesday, December 18, at City Hall

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

With the 86th Texas Legislature set to return to work on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 – and with Congress mostly working year-round – the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors is looking at investing $105,000 for a “City of Edinburg Public Affairs Liaison” to do lobbying in Austin and in Washington, D.C.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is scheduled to take action on that and other economic development issues when they meet at noon on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at Edinburg City Hall, located at 415 W. University Drive.

The current Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro Tem David Torres, Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, Councilmember Jorge Salinas, and Miguel “Mike” Farías, a member of the Edinburg school board.

The proposal does not identify the name or names of the individual(s) or firm(s) that will fulfill the duties of the “City of Edinburg Public Affairs Liaison”, although it does state that this liaison “possesses the knowledge and background necessary to provide services requested.”

Also, the plan for the “City of Edinburg Public Affairs Liaison” does not identify any specific legislative agenda for the Edinburg EDC or the City of Edinburg, although such agendas in the past have been announced just as the Texas Legislature was about begin, or had just begun, its five-month regular sessions in January.

According to the proposed contract between the Edinburg EDC and the City of Edinburg, the $105,000 investment would involve a payment of $45,000 from the Edinburg EDC for FY 2018-2019, effective in December 2018, and a payment of $60,000, on October 1, 2o19, from the Edinburg EDC for FY 2019-2020.

The proposed contract between the Edinburg EDC and the City of Edinburg is known as an interlocal agreement, which is generally defined as a written contract between local government agencies such as a city, a county, a school board or a constitutional office. Interlocal agreements between public agencies should result in mutual benefits for all of the parties involved, according to LegalBeagle.com. In essence, an interlocal agreement is a collaborative contract between public bodies aiming to provide more efficient, less costly public services.

If approved, the lobbying services would represent the continuation – beginning in the mid-1990s under the administration of then-Mayor Joe Ochoa – of the Edinburg EDC and the City of Edinburg taking active roles in directly shaping state and federal policies and laws to benefit and protect the interests of Edinburg residents.

As with Ochoa as mayor, Richard García when he was mayor also chose to hire lobbyists for the Edinburg EDC and the City of Edinburg.

Between those two mayors – and including current Mayor Molina, Mayor Pro Tem Torres, and City Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr. – Edinburg has come up dozens of impressive legislative gains over the past two-and-a-half decades.

The lobbyists for the Edinburg EDC and the Edinburg City Council have represented those two entities before important Texas state boards, commissions, and agencies, including the University of Texas System Board of Regents, as well as worked with the city’s state and federal lawmakers before the Texas Legislature and Congress.

Those lobbyists’ work resulted in as much as $500 million – and possibly more – in state and federal moneys coming to the city for a wide range of local priorities, such as major expansions of state roadways, the improvement of U.S. Highway 281 into Interstate Highway 69 , and the creation of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine in Edinburg.

Among the registered lobbyists who have been hired in the past by the Edinburg EDC and the Edinburg City Council are Elvia López, owner of Caballero Government Affairs, Guillermo Canedo; Oberlyn “Obie” Salinas, owner of Signature Advocacy, Inc., Rosalie Weisfeld, Holland & Knight, Pathfinder Public Affairs, The Vela Group, and Troutman & Sanders.

In general, lobbying is defined as persuasion, or interest representation is the act of attempting to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of officials in their daily life, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying)

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY GRADUATES CELEBRATE MILESTONE ON SECOND DAY OF COMMENCEMENT CEREMONIES

Mission accomplished for close to 2,000 graduates who participated in The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s three Fall 2018 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 15.

In front of excited and emotional family, friends and loved ones, the UTRGV graduates received their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees completing their transition from students to alumni.

Held at the McAllen Convention Center, the three ceremonies were held at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and included more than 170 graduates from UTRGV’s first entering class of students who started with UTRGV in Fall 2015 and graduated in three and a half years.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey presided over the ceremonies and told graduates to celebrate this major milestone in their lives.

“This is your day …,” Bailey said. “But, there are a couple of caveats to that, first of all, you’ll be far more defined by what happens to you over the next 50 years than what has happened to you the last four years. But, the truth is to remember that what happens in the future will be what defines you. The good news is that you are well prepared for it.”

For graduates Kim Finn and Miranda López, who were two of six candidates to earn their doctorates in Rehabilitation Services and Counseling Saturday morning, the day to celebrate their major accomplishment had finally arrived.

López, 40, who has more than 10 years of experience in case management, intake evaluations, and individual and group counseling, as well as five years of career counseling, grant writing, and grant management skills, said a career in rehabilitation counseling chose her. While earning her doctorate, Lopez taught full time and co-wrote two $1 million grants, both with the School of Rehabilitative Services and Counseling.

“I know not everyone gets that experience, but I did, and it was the whole comprehensive package for me. A lot of props go to my mentor, Dr. Bruce Reed, because he took me under his wing probably since that first semester that I got there,” López said.

Finn, 45, from San Antonio, worked as a supervising clinical therapist for the University of Texas Pan American’s Counseling Services Center for 16 years, mentoring graduate and doctoral-level students and administering psychotherapy.

UTPA is which is UTRGV’s, legacy institution.

While earning her doctorate, Finn taught full time and contributed to multicultural counseling and studies on animal shelter workers who engage in euthanizing unfortunate animals. Though she is happy to graduate, she will miss the camaraderie of her fellow colleagues, she said.

“I made quite a lot of really good friends, who are like a family for me,” she said. “Several of them are graduating with me this semester, and I think that’s what makes it special. It’s really a wonderful thing and feels amazing.”

Graduating students – Alexandra Corpus and Cruz Rivera – earned their bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with bilingual education specialization and teacher certification (EC-6) during the 1 p.m. ceremony. They both enrolled in the Intensive Mentorship and Preparation in Acceleration for a Career in Teaching program under the College of Education and P-16 Integration.

Corpus, of Alamo, said having family members who are teachers helped and encouraged her to stick with the path that would lead to her dream job.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I’m excited about starting to work as a teacher. In the program, we were able to learn different techniques for how to teach, how to have good classroom management. It was just great.”

Rivera, of San Juan, said he’s also eager to get his foot in the door and start teaching as a bilingual teacher. He mentioned he does hope this path paves the way for him to becoming a principal one day.

Rivera sends thanks to his father for being his support through his fast-paced college stay.
“He always told me to try my best at school and to not give up, even when I’m tired. I need to finish strong. It’ll pay off,” the future teacher said.

Corpus and Rivera both send encouragement to future Vaqueros to take advantage of the opportunities presented in front of them and don’t be scared.

ABOUT UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

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Melissa Vázquez contributed to this article. For more this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature.

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