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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

RGV Politics Re-Visited

Attention RGV Politics readers and visitors:
All further posting will take place on the new web site RGV Politics Re-Visited at http://rgvpolitics.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A New Blog

I have created a new blog entitled RGV Politics Re-Visited. You can visit it here at http://rgvpolitics.blogspot.com A month earlier than I predicted, but there have been a lot of things going on in our political and social environment that for lack of a better phrase- I just couldn't take it anymore.
Blogging will be slow on the new site for now. As I'm typing this, I can still feel the cobwebs and the rust working their way out of my thoughts and fingers. But with a little luck, we'll be up and running at a smooth pace soon.
Thanks again to everybody who left a comment.
Hector Gomez

Friday, September 01, 2006

RGV Politics...A Semi-First Hand Account of Politics in the Rio Grande Valley and the Great State of Texas...To Be Continued

Due to circumstances that require my wholehearted commitment, I will not be posting to RGV Politics for an indefinite amount of time. My sincerest hope is to return by the November elections, and hiring of a new superintendent for PSJA ISD. At the latest, in time for the newly elected governments to take office in January of 2007. At this point, it's hard to say.
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing RGV Politics. Doing so has opened my mind to a political process that until January of this year, I had only understood on a surface level. Nine months later, I found myself peeling layer upon layer to reach a deeper truth at what lies beneath all the corruption, nepotism, and selfishness that has become the status quo in the Rio Grande Valley. It is my strong opinion that this is the reason why political blogging in our area has become so important. We're still digging for that deeper truth.
There is an old saying that goes,"Never bite the hand that feeds". It has become engrained into our South Texas culture to believe "the hand" represents elected officials. Those in power. Those with influence. Those with surnames, kinships, or affiliations who were raised to believe that because of this, the soles of their feet float a little higher off the ground than the rest of ours do. They are wrong. And so were we for believing it for so long.
In truth, "the hand" represents the community. A voter who has a voice in whether the types of actions by elected officials will be tolerated or not. Actions done as a matter of policy and personal conviction. A kickback on a construction project. The hiring of a family member to high-level positions within a school district which is rich with those more qualified to do a better job. Returning a political favor by awarding contracts without a legal bidding process.
RGV Politics, and so many other blogs across the Valley have tried to bring these truths to the surface. For our readers, and for ourselves. Perhaps as a way to better understand the social and political environment we've been raised to accept "as is". No refunds-No exchanges. Through different styles and presentations, the message has been the same.
"The hand" in charge has always been the community. Not elected officials, or their well connected co-horts. It should no longer be a matter of how we continue to support corruption, or questionable policies by electing these people into office. It has become a matter of why we continue to elect these types of people. We can make our communities better once we learn to let go of that fear which dictates that our world will crumble beneath us if we decide to speak out openly about our elected government. We should constantly remind ourselves that the word "elected" means we as a society put them there by choice, and it has always been our choice. Not the other way around.
A final thought for those who might have failed to recognize the importance of voicing an opinion by means of a political blog, or have missed the point entirely. If history judges us, let that judgment be based on an ignorant truth that we as a society chose to adhere to. But let history also know that there were those of us within that society who strived to make a difference.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

PSJA ISD makes appearance in The Paper of South Texas

The latest issue of The Paper of South Texas has an article by David Robledo concerning the rise of violence in the Pharr San Juan Alamo school district, and what the school board is doing about it. Or rather, what they hope they can accomplish with a $93,000 a year price tag. If you haven't picked up a copy, you can log on to their web site at www.thepaperofsouthtexas.com or follow the link on the RGV Politics sidebar.

Monday, August 28, 2006

La Joya...Serving as a sad example to our troubled times...

The political dust in the small South Texas town takes long to settle. Dubbed the jewel of the Valley, recent allegations of nepotism and cronyism by the newly elected school board may have long lasting affects that reach far beyond the city limits of La Joya, Texas. Affects that will stretch across a region thirsty for political change as it is for a solitary rain cloud to cure a parched earth from a much too long lasting summer.
What makes the accusations in La Joya unique, especially in an area of the state as deeply rooted in political corruption as it is on Sunday morning barbacoa, is that the newly elected school board pledged to bring an end to these types of political practices. And it was not so much a political platform, it was touted as a deep personal conviction to do what it takes to ensure these things would never happen again. The enemy was clearly in their sights, and the era of former La Joya Superintendent Filomena Leo was coming to an end. It served as another example of life's musts. Like a rabid dog that needs to be euthanized. For it's own good, as well as ours.
But we're not talking rabid dogs here. And as of late, the current administration would be hard pressed to distinguish itself in a far better league of professional ethics than those of Leo. Especially when, by all accounts, everything politically corrupt about Leo amounted to nothing more than heresay. Which is why the best the newly elected administration could do was remove her from her post for lack of qualifications to serve as Superintendent of schools. Post haste, at that.
The problem with the current administration is that they were smart enough to slip through the cracks to get their piece of the pie. At all costs, especially to the thousands of citizens in the Rio Grande Valley who want more than promises. We want results.
The problem for us, especially those of us who have taken to political blogging as a means to inform people about the right candidate, the ones that will do what's best for the community at large, is that the credibility of such claims are lost. Gone with a nostalgic ideal of wanting to know that this country can still live up to it's original intention. A government by, for, and of the people. Not someone's husband. Not someone's daughter. Not that person who sold the most barbecue tickets for the political fundraiser. But people who care not only about their futures, but ours as well.
The newly elected school board have gotten their say, and have accomplished what they'd hoped for. Their names emblazoned on the masthead. Just another piece of the political pie they so longed for. Their actions to serve as a reminder to any of those across the Rio Grande Valley with the notion of not forgetting when it comes to their own respective school districts, and city commissions that if it can happen in La Joya, it can happen anywhere else as well. If there is a lesson in all of this, for all it's ranting and raving, it is that some politicians need a means to their ends. La Joya just got a taste of how low these types of people are willing to stoop to get there. And that's the sad part for everybody whether you're from La Joya or not.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Official Press Release by the Texas Democratic Veterans Executive Committee endorsing Barbara Ann Radnofsky

For immediate release:
August 23, 2006
Texas Democratic Veterans was formed June 14, 2002 at the Texas Democratic Convention held in El Paso, Texas. We allow veteran and non-veteran members-the only requirement that we have is that all our members support and honor our veterans and military personnel and keep the issues important to them before the Democratic Party of the State of Texas and the Democratic National Committee. We Texas Democratic Veterans are proud of the legacy of leadership of the Texas Democratic Party over the past 130 years.
We see in Barbara Ann Radnofsky someone who, like us, believes that the service of those who have gone before us is something to emulate and respect. She is the daughter of a WWII veteran and the granddaughter of a WWI veteran. Her grandfather was injured in his navy service and proudly served as commander of his American Legion post.
When her father was in prisoner of war camp in Germany and the Nazis visited the camp and told all the Jews to step forward, to a man every prisoner stepped forward. Barbara Ann has repeatedly said during her more than 480 campaign trips across Texas that she is here because of the service, risk-taking, and sacrifice of our veterans, and that they deserve the treatment they were promised.
Barbara Ann's own words: "My parents raised me to believe that we are here on this earth due to the service and sacrifice of others."
Barbara Ann's opponent demonstrates that talk is cheap among too many of our elected officials. Barbara Ann Radnofsky's opponent promised,"I've always said that I would serve no more than two full terms. This may be my last term, or I could run for one more--But no more after that. I firmly believe in term limitations and plan to adhere to that." This was November of 1994, twelve years ago. She signed a contract with America reaffirming her position but broke that contract and pledge when she announced she would run for a third term.
On January 17, 2003, the Bush Administration stopped enrolling new Priority 8 veterans for Veterans Administration medical care, and the president's budget continues this restrictive policy. This has prevented one million veterans, who make as little as $26,902 a year, from enrolling in VA health care. For over three years Barbara Ann's opponent has remained silent.
The veterans of South Texas for too long have been denied the care they deserve. Barbara Ann stood with them and continues to stand with them demanding a new, fully funded, and operational VA hospital in South Texas. For over twelve years her opponent ignored this issue, and after two terms in office Texas is facing closing of veteran's facilities.
Knight-Ridder reported on December 30, 2005 that according to the VA's own data, people who call the agency's regional offices for help and advice are more likely to receive completely wrong answers than completely right ones. It currently takes about $1.4 billion additional funds each year just to maintain current VA services and the federal pay rise.
According to the Veteran's of Foreign Wars and other veteran's organizations, the Bush Administration's 2006 VA medical care budget request is woefully inadequate by about $2.4 billion. Raw data from the Veterans Benefits Administration suggest more than 11,000 of the 696,841 veterans who served in the Persian Gulf have died from various injuries and illnesses. More than 256,000 have filed claims against the government for veteran's compensation or medical care. Though the federal agency cautions that the data are raw and not reflective of mortality rates. "It's significant because it's...more than the casualty rates post-Vietnam."
Barbara Ann has advocated for service members and exposed the ineffective leadership and anti-service bias of her opponent. Veteran's issues in Texas are long-term, critical, and they deserve careful foresight and advocacy in Washington. It is with great pleasure that the Texas Democratic Vetereans Executive Committee endorses a true voice for veterans in Texas, Barbara Ann Radnofsky for the United States Senate.
Texas Democratic Veterans Contact:
Dennis Ferguson
(press release provided by the candidate through email to RGV Politics)

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Issue of Violence Plaguing the PSJA School District...What it boils down to

Growing up in the Tri-City area, a child learns one of life's harshest realities early on. The word fair is a concept reserved for those that count themselves among the more affluent members of the community. It is a keen understanding that to have is to be treated with respect, and to have not is something they tend to push further and further towards the edge of long forgotten, or never really went anywhere with anything in the first place. Our community is not mutually exclusive from those around it, but the politics of the situation seems to lend itself a little more to the problem.
In an article by James Osbourne in today's issue of The Monitor titled, "Eyebrows rise after mayor's son nets contract", Osbourne tackles the issue of questionable contracts being awarded to a son of a friend's friend. The same ol' twice removed scenario of business that has become the accepted norm in this community, but is a taste that is beginning to fall flat in places like La Joya, or Edinburg. Hector X. Palacios, owner of HXP Counseling and Consultant Services, was awarded a one year contract with the district in the amount of $93,000.00 effective at August 15th's PSJA school board meeting. What makes this interesting, is as the report stated, Hector X. Palacios is the son of the City of Pharr mayor, Leo "Polo" Palacios. What he's being asked to provide the district is detailed in the article, with the overall sentiment being that Mr. Palacios will provide a thirty hour anger management course for those students who are deemed "at risk" by the school district. Mr. Palacios is quoted in the article as saying, "In these classes, the focus is more on intervening for kids who are at risk to join gangs. I'll help them think consequentially and to empathize..Like I tell everyone, it's just a piece of the pie. It doesn't guarantee an end to violence in the schools."
An interesting choice of words, and no doubt will garner the approval of the many around him who have hired him in the first place. But for those of us who grew up knowing the exact impact violence has had on our school district, words like these echo the tired stale sentiment of not knowing what to do, but trying in vain to figure it out once they get there. That's fine if the school board wants to talk athletic uniforms, and what next week's school cafeteria lunches will consist of. When it is dealing with children that far exceed a solution that is based upon telling them what the consequences of their actions are, or having a security camera that will somehow magically instill the fear that they will get caught, there is not the vaguest idea what the problem is. Much less an honest offering of real solutions that will last. Real solutions that will change the amount of violence that occurs in our schools. Real solutions that will profoundly affect these children in a more positive light, so that they themselves can serve as positive role models in the community. This is what it boils down to, positive reinforcement. It is perhaps the naivest of concepts, given the cynical environment our children are being raised in. But it is at the root of what is affecting these children in the first place. To be "at risk" doesn't mean you've been singled out in the first grade and your adminstrators are going on a hunch that you just won't cut it in a society you're so desperately rebelling against. "At risk" means you've had your share of troubles, and if we don't scare the living wits out of you, you're bound to do much worse. Which consequently affects who? Who's life is inevitably tarnished by the violence and accusations of incompetence? Not the children we really need to be caring about in the first place. It tarnishes the reputation of a school board that would much rather bandage a downward spirraling situation by paying someone close to a six figure contract on the slightest hope that if even one child is reached, something has been accomplished. Indeed, hope in a magic bottle when the truth of the matter is, the money may have been better spent on hiring a district school psychologist who may be more qualified, and could perhaps offer better solutions to what a $93,000.00 a year contract and school surveillance cameras could offer. Caring. A sentiment that is obviously not at the level the local school board, and those surrounding it, are willing to reach. Or pay for.

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