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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Trenton Crossroads Plaza, featuring Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, set to open in about 60 days

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Four leading members of the Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District have endorsed Democrat Eddie Sáenz in his race for the Texas House of Representatives District 40, saying that his strong support for teachers and opposition to private-school voucher schemes will provide the principled leadership area public schools need in Austin. Trustee Saúl Garcia said that Sáenz’ opponent, Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, has taken at least $47,500 from Austin lobbyists in the past five months, including more than $25,000 in direct contributions from special interests representing the Republican Party of Texas, including Speaker of the House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and San Antonio millionaire James Leininger, all of whom are pushing a plan to siphon millions of tax dollars out of public schools to pay for a private-school voucher scheme. Featured from left are: García, Mingo Rodríguez, Sáenz, Richard Ozuna, Juan Ybarra. See related story later in this posting.
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Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, featured standing during a recent presentation before area retired teachers, is reminding voters of key votes that helped them, such as his support for a measure that earlier this month provided an extra pension checks to retired teachers. Peña has been endorsed in his re-election campaign in House District 40 by former Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting, who served as state party chair from 2003-2006. “I have known Aaron and his family for over 30 years and it is a pleasure to endorse him,” said Soechting. “Aaron is a good Democrat and I encourage every Democrat to come out and vote for him. Peña has a long history of Democratic activism. He got started in politics at age nine as a volunteer for Hubert Humphrey’s Democratic Presidential campaign. And, he worked for Democratic State Representatives in the capitol, for the Texas Democratic Party, and for U.S. Senator Bob Krueger. He also helped draft the National Platform at the Democratic National Convention that nominated Al Gore for President in 2000. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Peña has served as chair of the Texas New Democrats and the Tejano Democrats as well. See story later in this posting.
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South Texas College welcomes Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist Sonia Nazario to its Pecan Campus Building D Auditorium in McAllen on Saturday, February 2 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Part of the college’s Distinguished Speaker Series, Nazario’s talk will examine issues related to immigration through the eyes of her latest book, Enrique’s Journey, the story of a young child’s trials to reach his mother in the United States. Based on the true story of one Honduras family, the book talks about the consequences of leaving one’s homeland, the struggle to remain close when separated and the tribulations of trying to reunite and bond again. “I was inspired to write this book by what I learned and found it unbelievably moving – the story of children wanting, at all costs, to be with their mothers and going through dangerous and terrifying worlds to reach them,” said Nazario. “To prepare to write the book I retraced the journey of Enrique for myself and I saw the dangers and misery of it through his eyes. The level of poverty and deprivation that these immigrants face is appalling and I want to give their voices an outlet.” See story later in this posting.
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Judge Susan Criss raises $317,000 in her Democratic campaign for Texas Supreme Court, Place 8

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The University of Texas Board of Regents, the governing body for The University of Texas System, will hold their next regular meeting at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg on Wednesday, February 6 and Thursday, February 7. The regents, who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, wield tremendous influence over how and where the UT System’s $10.7 billion, two-year budget is spent. District Judge Susan Criss, D-Galveston, a candidate for Texas Supreme Court, has called on the UT System to bring a law school to the Rio Grande Valley, which is predominantly Hispanic. “Of the more than 77,000 lawyers in Texas, only 14 percent are from minority populations, according to a report produced last spring by the State Bar of Texas,” said Criss. “Yet more than 59 percent of Texas schoolchildren are considered to be from minority populations, and Mexican Americans make up one-third of our state’s population. We need to encourage more minority students to pursue careers in the law.” Featured in this group portrait taken in November are: standing from left: James D. Dannenbaum; Colleen McHugh; Robert A. Estrada; Paul Foster; John W. Barnhill, Jr.; Printice L. Gary; and student regent Randal Matthew Camarillo. Seated from left: Vice Chairman James R. Huffines; Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr.; and Vice Chairman Robert B. Rowling. The UT Board of Regents is composed of nine members who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Terms for regents are scheduled for six years each and staggered so that three members’ terms will usually expire on February 1 of odd-numbered years. In addition, the governor appoints a student regent for a one-year term that expires on May 31.

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Eddie Sáenz of Edinburg, featured right with La Joya Mayor Billy Leo, who has endorsed his bid for state representative, House District 40, continues to build momentum – and financial support – in his bid to unseat Rep. Aaron Peña in the March 4 Democratic Party primary. Sáenz has raised more than $140,000 between July and December 2007, according to his campaign finance report released on Tuesday, January 15. Sáenz’ report for the period ending December 31 shows that he has raised $140,835 since launching his campaign last September, with an average donation of $800 from 45 individual contributors and including a $105,000 loan from the candidate. See story featured later in this posting.

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Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, who is facing a challenge from Eddie Sáenz, also of Edinburg, in the March 4 Democratic Party primary, displays what he hopes is a good omen – a dice that he drew containing the number 1, which placed his name first on the election ballot for the House District 40 legislative district, which includes most of Edinburg. He was among dozens of elected officials, candidates, family members, and Democratic Party activists who showed up at the auditorium in the Hidalgo County Courthouse on Thursday, January 10, to draw for places on the ballot for contested state and local offices in Hidalgo County. “Local political lore maintains that the first poll position is to be desired and can be advantageous,” Peña said after the drawing. “I am not quite sure if this is true but most of the candidates in the room this night seem to share the belief that it does.” Also celebrating what they hope is a lucky pick by the local legislator were his daughter, Adrienne Peña Garza, and his son Aaron. A list of the contested races in Hidalgo County, with the order in which the names will appear on the ballot, is featured later in this posting.

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To help celebrate Fiesta Edinburg’s 40th Anniversary, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and Fiesta Edinburg is going “retro”. On Thursday, February 21, the community is invited to participate in Fiesta Hidalgo’s first Disco Dance Party to help kick off the annual event’s fourth decade. The festivities will be held in the Edinburg Activity Center, located on 123 Palm Drive. The Fiesta Edinburg Committee, featured in this promotional photograph, are hosting the Disco Dance Party, featuring the popular Deejay, “Johnny Joe”. The dance will take place from 7-11 p.m., and everyone is invited to come out and take part in reliving the 70’s. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their flashy “retro” attire, as there will be a costume contest with $100 prize money, and $100 also will be awarded to the best dancer. The fee is $5 per person. For more information, contact the local chamber at 956-383-4974.

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El legado familiar del juez Susan Criss incluye abolir “esclavitud” de trabajadores agrícola

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Eddie Sáenz of Edinburg addresses several hundred voters on Thursday, October 25, during his campaign kick-off for state representative, House District 40, which includes all but southwest Edinburg, La Joya and Sullivan City in western Hidalgo County, Edcouch, Elsa, La Villa, and San Carlos in eastern Hidalgo County, and northern Hidalgo County. Sáenz, a Democrat, is portraying incumbent Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, as loyal to the Republican Party, criticizing Peña for helping keep a Republican in power as Texas Speaker of the House. “Our great state senators and South Texas representatives need a partner working with them in Austin. We need to elect a Speaker who is for everyone,” Sáenz said. “That is why I am committing to stand with the Democratic Caucus, and support a Democrat for Speaker that we can all stand behind.” See story later in this posting.

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Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) President Chris McGill and CLEAT Political Director Charley Wilkison presented Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, featured right, with the Senator of the Year 2007 award at CLEATS 31st annual convention held October 6 in Brownsville. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Lucio pushed for an increase of $369.4 million in funds for the incarceration and treatment of adult felons. He also helped secure $108 million for border security operations, including funding for local law enforcement surge operations, joint operation and intelligence centers, a border security operation center, additional Department of Public Safety troopers and more aviation support. See story later in this posting.

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A portion of the program cover for the November 15 Tejano Walk of Fame scholarship fundraiser provides a colorful preview for the event, to be hosted by The Social Club, an upscale restaurant located at 205 Conquest Boulevard in Edinburg. Hundreds of fans of the latest inductees of the Tejano Walk of Fame will be able to see their favorite musicians – at no charge – during the public portion of the popular event, which will be held outside The Social Club from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. See story later in this posting.

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An exhibit titled “Pillars of Success” featuring the photos and success stories of five distinguished alumni of The University of Texas-Pan American opened at the University’s Visitors Center on October 11. Pictured from left are new UTPA “Pillars of Success” honorees Arturo E. Guerra Jr., Roberto Pulido, Dr. Marla M. Guerra, and Lucious “Luke” Jackson Jr. Not pictured is Major General William F. Garrison, who was unable to attend the Pillars exhibit opening. See story later in this posting.

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The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley to herald economic, cultural renaissance for Edinburg

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Area leaders on Thursday, August 2, participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, arguably the most important private investment in the three-time All-America City in history. When it is opens in the fall of 2008, the 80-store complex will provide one of the most unique shopping experiences in Texas, and generate a $90 million economic impact for the city and surrounding region. Local leaders participating in the event included: Mayor Joe Ochoa; former Mayor Richard García, who serves as president of the board of directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas; Mayor Pro Tem Alma Garza; Councilmember Noe Garza; Councilmember Gene Espinosa; and Hidalgo County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios. See story later in this posting.

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Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, featured here second from right with some of her legislative staff in Edinburg, has almost $50,000 in her campaign treasury for her reelection bid in 2008 for a third two-year term, according to her latest campaign finance report. Gonzáles will be facing at least one challenger – Javier Villalobos, also of McAllen, who will be running for the Republican nomination. Both parties will hold their primaries in March 2008, with the general election in November 2008. Gonzáles represents House District 41, which includes southwest Edinburg. Shown here with Gonzáles are, from left: Ricardo López-Guerra, chief of staff and campaign manager; Stephanie Ozuna, legislative intern; Gonzáles; and Edna Dougherty, constituent services liaison. See story later in this posting.

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The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is helping sponsor the 2nd Annual Jewels of the Valley seminar in McAllen on August 28. Topics will include issues of importance to women who are in business or considering starting a business. Attendees will come face-to-face with over 25 exhibitors and will have the opportunity to participate in a 10-minute networking session. Featured are members of the planning committee for the 2nd Annual Jewels of the Valley are front, from left: Dora Ramírez, Maggie Jiménez, Time Warner Cable; Fatima García, McAllen Convention Center; Rosie Delgado, Southwest Community Investment Corporation; Desiree Méndez-Caltzontzint, Office of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa; Rosalinda Kiger, SCORE; back, from left: Osvaldo Cardoza, Southwest Community Investment Corp.; Elizabeth C. Martínez, The Business Times of the Rio Grande Valley; Gracie Guillen, Small Business Administration; and Juan Gómez, Time Warner Cable. See story later in this posting.

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On Wednesday, August 8, an organization led by former Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García and the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will meet in McAllen to lay out possible strategies to block the planned creation of a high-security border fence – the so-called “Border Wall” – favored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Shown making plans for the discussion session are seated left to right: Brenda Lee Huerta, MHCC Chair, and Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC president/CEO. Back row are Diana González, Vice Chair of Education; former Hidalgo County Judge and attorney Ramón García; Hari Namboodiri, Chair Elect; and Verónica Vela, Vice Chair of Women’s Issues. See story later in this posting.
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