FEATURED: Edinburg City Councilmember Daniel “Dan” Díaz on Friday, September 9, 2022, addressed audience members during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Schunior Detention Pond project, which will benefit more than 720 homes in the surrounding area by adding to the community’s stormwater holding capacity and increasing overall efficiency of the municipal drainage infrastructure.
Photo Courtesy CITY OF EDINBURG FACEBOOK
Lobby team for 88th Texas Legislature could be selected by Edinburg mayor and city council, on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, reports Attorney Omar Ochoa
Five legislative consulting teams, including Pathfinder Public Affairs of Edinburg/Austin, are competing for the job of helping lead the Edinburg mayor and city councilmembers on their legislative priorities during the upcoming five-month regular session of the 88th Texas Legislature, reports attorney Omar Ochoa.
The Texas Legislature will convene (get together) at the Texas Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 and adjourn (end) on Monday, May 29, 2023.
On Tuesday, October 18, 2022, the Edinburg City Council, which includes the mayor – as part of its regularly-scheduled meeting – is scheduled to review and possibly take action on the “selection of a firm and authorize the City Manager to Negotiate a Professional Services Agreement for RFQ (Request for Qualifications) No 2022-012, Legislative Advocacy Services for the City of Edinburg, Pursuant to the City’s Ordinance and Procurement Polices (Nelda Ramirez, Assistant City Manager),” according to the city council agenda.
That meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public, will be held at Edinburg City Hall
Those organizations, who were the only ones whose leadership submitted their applications by the August 30, 2022 deadline, follow, in the order of the ratings they received from Selection Committee – the three assistant city managers (Nelda Ramírez, Tom Reyna, and Jesús R. Sáenz) and the city’s director of grants administration (Marissa Garza):
“For the past 30 years, the different mayors and city councilmembers and their top administrators for Edinburg have hired legislative consulting teams to champion key issues that benefit and protect their citizens, and in doing so, they have directly helped secure an extraordinary amount of state and federal funding for the city’s legislative goals and achievements, such as the development of Interstate Highway 69C, the creation of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine, a Level One Trauma Center and many other successful accomplishments,” said Ochoa.
Since the mid-1990s, Mayor Joe Ochoa, Mayor Richard H. García, and Mayor Richard Molina, along with the respective city councilmembers serving with them, have hired lobby teams to represent the city’s best interests before the Texas Legislature and the major state agencies.
According to the city leadership, the successful applicant for the Legislative Advocacy Services shall be required to perform the following duties:
• Advise the City regarding its legislative agenda;
• Develop appropriate strategies in consultation with City Staff;
• Assist in drafting materials and correspondence to support advocacy for the City’s legislative agenda;
• Proactively identify and analyze potential impacts of Federal and State budget proposals and pending legislation and advocate accordingly;
• Assess legislative bills to identify those that should be brought to the City’s attention;
• Present and advocate for the City of Edinburg’s legislative agenda to Federal and State stakeholders;
• Participate in weekly conference calls with the City Manager (Myra L. Ayala) to review week’s activity and plan for the upcoming week;
• Create a monthly summary regarding advocacy activities and participate in meetings as called via teleconference; and
• Travel to Austin, Texas, as needed with a minimum of one visit a week during the legislation session.
• Attend events coordinated by the City Manager for the Edinburg City Council.
“The details of the five lobby team applicants are available online at the city’s website by going to the page titled “Agendas & Minutes”, scroll down to “View Meeting Documents”, look for the link titled “City Council Regular Meeting – Tuesday – October 18, 2022 – 6:00 PM,” and any individual can view or download the agenda packet that contains the detailed applications from these five outstanding legislative consulting firms,” said Ochoa. “Of course, the live and videotaped recording of the meeting will also be available on the City of Edinburg website because the city leadership has always been transparent and open about what they do on behalf of their citizens.”
To see all live televised Edinburg City Council meetings, interested individuals may log on to the city website, log on to the “Government” category, then log on to to “Live ECN Television Stream” at:
Ochoa, a graduate of the University of Texas as well as the UT School of Law, is an advocate for transparency in government, provides regular reports to the public on federal, state, and local laws that impact journalism, communications, freedom of speech issues, and transparency in government.
According to Ballotpedia, which is a nonprofit and nonpartisan online political encyclopedia that covers federal, state, and local politics, elections, and public policy in the United States:
• Openness, accountability, and honesty define government transparency.
• In a free society, transparency is government’s obligation to share information with citizens. It is at the heart of how citizens hold their public officials accountable.
• Governments exist to serve the people. Information on how officials conduct the public business and spend taxpayers’ money must be readily available and easily understood.
This transparency allows good and just governance. Government transparency is traditionally broken into three different types: proactive disclosure, requesting public records, and campaign finance disclosure.
Ochoa has experience in journalism print publications.
He was the editor-in-chief of the prestigious Texas Law Review at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, becoming the first Latino to serve in that position.
In the context of law school, a law review is an entirely student-run journal that publishes articles written by law professors, judges, and other legal professionals; many law review journals also publish shorter pieces written by law students called “notes” or comments.
In politics, lobbying, persuasion or interest representation is the act of lawfully attempting to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of government officials, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying, which usually involves direct, face-to-face contact, is done by many types of people, associations and organized groups, including individuals in the private sector, corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or advocacy groups (interest groups).
Lobbyists may be among a legislator’s constituencies, meaning a voter or bloc of voters within their electoral district; they may engage in lobbying as a business. Professional lobbyists are people whose business is trying to influence legislation, regulation, or other government decisions, actions, or policies on behalf of a group or individual who hires them. Individuals and nonprofit organizations can also lobby as an act of volunteering or as a small part of their normal job.
Governments often define “lobbying” for legal purposes, and regulate organized group lobbying that has become influential.
In Texas, the state lobby law regulates “direct communications” with members of the legislative or executive branch of state government to influence legislation or administrative action. See Tex. Gov’t Code §§ 305.001, 305.003(a). To understand what activity is regulated by the lobby law, it is important to understand the terms “direct communication,” “member of the legislative or executive branch,” and “communication for the purpose of influencing legislation or administrative action.” Each term is explained below in the next three sections.
Former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, completes services as member of the Board of Directors, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce
Former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, has completes her services as member of the Board of Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerces, that business organization announced on Saturday, October 15, 2022.
She represented House District 41 – which then featured southwest Edinburg in her district – from 2005 to June 29, 2012. She resigned her seat to become Vice President for University Advancement at the University of Texas-Pan American, now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Gonzáles has remained with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley since being hired in the summer of 2012, and now holds the position of Senior Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations.
In that role, she oversees local, state and federal governmental relations, community engagement and economic development programs.
The Division of Governmental and Community Relations monitors legislation and public policy issues and advise administrators of their potential impact on UTRGV, it also creates internship opportunities for students at the local, state and federal levels, and oversees several university programs designed to engage the Rio Grande Valley communities.
“It is with much gratitude that the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce announces the end of Verónica Gonzáles’ term serving on their Board of Directors,” said Ronnie Larralde, Executive Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. “For the past eight years, she has committed her time, talent, and expertise to the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.”
Gonzáles began her service on the Board of Directors in 2014 fulfilling the end of Martin Baylor’s term as a representative of the University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley.
Her previous experience as an attorney, mediator, legislator, fundraiser and now working in government and community relations for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has helped the organization leverage its Public Affairs initiatives.
During Gonzáles’ time, the Edinburg Chamber has been able to successfully host quarterly Public Affairs Luncheons. As a result of the success, she has helped the Edinburg Chamber fundraise thousands of dollars as well as keep the region’s leaders and decision-makers informed on the latest legislative changes that affect the area.
Although Gonzáles’ term as President of the Board was during the COVID-19 global pandemic, her dedication and commitment to the organization did not dwindle.
During her term as President of the Board, she was able to attain participation in COVID-19 Rapid Testing Kits for small business owners. This program was first launched as a pilot program by the State of Texas Division of Emergency Management.
The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce was one of eight chambers selected in the state to participate in the program and the first in the region.
“The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Verónica Gonzáles for her continued support as it has been a privilege to have a trailblazer serve our organization,” said Larralde. “In 2010, she was named one of eight “Ultimate Latinas” in the nation by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, recognizing her legislative achievements that benefit the business community.”
Gonzáles was the first in her family to go to college and credits education for her success and the many opportunities she has received. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Southwest Texas State University and a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law at Austin.
For more information on the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce visit https://edinburg.com.
Nayeli Zenteno contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).