Jul 31, 2009

Looks Like Juan Garcia To Be Confirmed

Last time I saw Juan Garcia, he was just a humble State Representative working to pass the Jennifer Cave Act, now I am proud to see that Juan is likely to be our next Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Former Texas Rep. Juan Garcia of Corpus Christi on Thursday passed the confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee. He therefore is most likely to be headed for confirmation as assistant Navy secretary for manpower and reserve affairs.

Garcia, nominated by President Barack Obama in April, faced no voiced opposition.

The committee chairman said he wanted his nomination to be confirmed by the full Senate before it takes its August recess next week.

When we served together in the Texas House, most of us knew that he was a friend of Obama, where they met as students at Harvard Law School. At a February 2007 rally in Austin, I spoke with both Juan and now President Obama about their time together at Harvard. It was at that time that I took this now famous photo of the two. Garcia was an early supporter of Obama's presidential campaign in Texas and did his best to encourage the rest of us to get behind Obama.

Garcia was introduced to the confirmation panel by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Sen. John Cornyn, both Texas Republicans. Both approved his nomination.

Garcia was accompanied to the hearing by his wife, Denise, and their family, Jack, Luke, Calista Rose, and Lex.

One thing should remain constant, Juan will remain humble. I also expect that he will continue to dedicate himself to the task that is before him. Unlike so many others, this South Texan will make us proud. Best of luck Juan!

"It's Good to Be the King!"

It's a Friday and the weekend approaches. It's good to be back in Texas where everyman can still dream of being king. At least at home. ( ... when she gives us permission.)

Country crooner George Strait seems to think so as he sings "El Rey" in Spanish:


Yo se bien que estoy afuera
I know good that i'm outside

Pero el dia que yo me muera
but the day that I die

Se que tendras que llorar.
I know that you will cry

(Llorar y llorar, llorar y llorar)
crying and crying, crying and crying

Pero vas a estar muy triste
But you will be very sad

Y asi te me vas a quedar.
and so you will stay with me

Con dinero y sin dinero.
with money or without money

Yo hago siempre lo que quiero.
I always do what I want to do

Y mi palabra es la ley.
and my words are the king

No tengo trono ni reina.
I have got no throne or queen

Ni nadie que me comprenda.
and nobody that understands me

Pero sigo siendo el rey.
But I am still the king

Una piedra en el camino
A stone in the way

Me enseno que mi destino.
I show myself that my destiny

Era rodar y rodar.
was rolling and rolling

(Rodar y rodar, rodar y rodar)
rolling and rolling, rolling and rolling

Tambien me dijo un arriero
a carrier also told me..

Que no hay que llegar primero
that it is not necesarry to arrive first

Pero hay que saber llegar.
But it's necesarry to know how to arrive

Jul 30, 2009

Operation Lone Star Update

The Generals came out to participate at the Operation Lone Star event in San Juan, Texas, today. Representative Ryan Guillen is joined by Adjutant General Mayorga and Brigadier General Fernandez who participated in an overall presentation of the program to local officials. Senator Lucio was present as were military observers from the country of Chile. Mexican reporters were asking how we could get Texas Military Forces into bordering states in Mexico to provide similar services. An interesting question.

U.S. Census Gears Up in the Valley

U.S. Census Bureau Regional Director, Gabriel Sanchez, is joined by Senator Eddie Lucio, Representative Ryan Guillen, and myself as we discuss strategies for the 10 year census.

The U. S. Constitution (Article I, Section II) requires that there be a census every ten years in order to apportion the seats in the House of Representatives among the states. Census information is also used by federal, state and local governments to assess needs and allocate funding, by academics to study the changing population, by individuals to trace their genealogy, and for many other purposes.

Ensuring that our community gets its fair apportionment of funding will be dependent on how well we are able to count those physically present in our community.

Jul 29, 2009

Texas Teachers to get Raise

Public school teachers will receive an $800 pay raise that we budgeted for them after the U.S. Department of Education approved the use of federal stimulus funding. I was a proud co-author of legislation that directed Texas' portion of stimulus funding for the pay increase.

Our teachers are dedicated, hard working and the foundation of our public schools. They deserve a larger raise but we had to work under difficult financial circumstances in crafting the state's budget. When we return to Austin next session I will to continue to fight for better teacher pay and strong public schools.

Texas faced a multi billion dollar budget gap that was largely filled by federal stimulus dollars. The budget writers used the funds to pass a balanced budget without resorting to raising taxes. The $800 raise is a minimum across the board raise. Local formula funding will determine the actual amount that could average $1000 per teacher. We also approved a $500 supplemental payment to retired teachers that is under review.

To that group of teachers who paid me a visit in Austin back in February, I can report that your wishes did not go unanswered.

Jul 27, 2009

Operation Lone Star Coming to Valley

I am glad to announce the return of Operation Lone Star to the Rio Grande Valley. The dates and location for Operation Lone Star 2009 have been set for the months of July and August in Hidalgo, Cameron, and Starr Counties.

Operation Lone Star is a joint project of the Texas State Guard and other Texas Military Forces, state health and human services agencies, county health departments, local service groups and volunteers from all over the United States.

During a recent gathering of Texas Military Forces, I met with Commanding General Christopher J. Powers and members of the Medical Corp. to discuss the upcoming Lone Star program in the Rio Grande Valley.

Operation Lone Star is a valuable service to communities along the Texas-Mexico border. It certainly represents the best in public service, fulfilling our moral and civic duties by bringing critical medical and dental services to needy Texans.

Operation Lone Star brings free medical and dental services to under-served communities along the Texas border. There will be eight medical sites that will be set up across seven South Texas counties, including two sites in Hidalgo County. The services include immunizations, sports physicals, blood pressure screenings and more.

This year marks the 11th anniversary of Operation Lone Star, which provided health care to more than 13,000 South Texas residents in just two weeks last year.

My office has participated in previous Operation Lone Star events. I applaud the efforts of personnel from the Texas State and National Guards, along with those from the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps Reserves who take part in this humanitarian effort each year.

I am continuously impressed by the professionalism of our military forces who are involved in Operation Lone Star. The humanitarian benefits of this program are enormous for our community here in the Rio Grande Valley. In addition, to benefiting needy Texans this program has an additional benefit of preparing our servicemen and women for the trials they may face during emergencies, natural disasters or wartime.

Operation Lone Star sites for July 27-July 31

Brownsville: Raul A. Besteiro Middle School, 6280 Southmost Road
Raymondville: Raymondville High School, One Bearkat Lane
San Juan: PSJA High School, 805 W. Ridge Road
La Joya: Dr. Javier Saenz Middle School, 39200 Mile 7 Road, Peñitas

Operation Lone Star Sites for August 3-August 7

Rio Grande City: Ringgold Middle School, Fort Ringgold Campus

Doors open daily at 8:00 a.m. and close at 4:00 p.m. at all the sites.

Operation Lone Star VIP DAY July 30, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. at PSJA High School Cafeteria, 805 W. Ridge Road San Juan, Texas. Site Tour at 11:00 a.m.

I will be traveling with military personnel to the Rio Grande Valley for Operation Lone Star.

Mission Accomplished

Knock one off the "bucket list" it's time to head home. It was a special vacation. Little Anthony and I rode those cable cars hard but the work back home remains. Many of us in the Texas Guard will be participating in "Operation Lone Star" to help the needy along the border with free basic health care. Operation Lone Star is a two-week medical operation run by Texas military forces and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

God willing, I will be there. The office is always open. Feel free to give me a call if you need something.

Jul 26, 2009

The Cable Car and the Dragon

The Cable Car and the Dragon is a well-told children's story which takes place in San Francisco. The story is about a famous cable car and a Chinese dragon. On our tour we came across a really cool embodiment of the two. A fire breathing touring car in the shape of a fully articulated dragon.

Jul 25, 2009

Cable Cars and Painted Ladies

We rose before the sun, had our morning breakfast and made our way straight to the San Francisco cable cars on Market and Powell. We were in luck Anthony grabbed the front standing position on the rail and I followed right behind him. Anthony who is fourteen years old can still identify with the descriptive phrase, "giddy as a school boy". At this moment, on a cool summer day with my smallest child beside me in the city that I love, that phrase, in relation to myself, is all too descriptive.

Anthony took the Flip video camera and filmed our entire ride down to the waterfront (I've cut it down in size to the last four minutes). With one cable car ride under our belt we took a short walk over to Ghiradelli Square and tried to duplicate a photo we took together six years ago. Ah, but the years have passed. Anthony is no longer a young child and I ... well I ... let's just say the Autumn of life beckons.

Not on this day, not in this town, those sirens of the inevitable will have to suffer in their silence as little Anthony and his dad are on mission - our Summer sojourn of 2009. Our mission, to explore the great American city and ride everyone of it's cable cars. A great metaphor for life - I think - to love, to live, to learn.

To achieve a great quest, one must first consult the great oracle of knowledge from the region. We did so and commissioned a guide of the great city on Mr. Toad's Tours of San Francisco. This three hour tour taught us much of the history and sites of the city. This included the "painted ladies" - a term given to Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings painted in three or more colors that help embellish the architectural details. The top photo shows us in front of the famous "painted ladies" near San Fransisco's Alamo park.

As the tour comes to a close, it has become at 54 degrees unbearably cold (hard to believe I know) so we decided to ride on of the antique street cars back to Union Square. San Francisco has done a remarkable job in recommissioning old street cars from other countries for use in their city. We road a 1928 "Peter Witt" street car from Milan, Italy back to our hotel.

Great history in these street and cable cars but like so many other things it's simply a vehicle to share the important things in life. Sharing life with the people you love. A father and son holding on to the precious passing moments in life. It's been a great day. Tomorrow we continue anew. We aim to enjoy it.

Good day!

Trains and Trolleys

With recent news about wayward public officials, I guess it's good to know where your elected official is when he is away from the community. My son and I (shown here in a 2003 photo) have escaped the heat for a short weekend trip to San Francisco. This time instead of riding trains, as we did in our last trip to Springfield, we aim to ride every trolley car in San Francisco before our time here has ended.

Our first aim this morning is to get to the trolley cars early before the tourist rush crowds us out. Life is too short and we aim to grabbed it by the horns and enjoy the ride. It's like Argentina ... only better!

UPDATE: We took the cable car from Union Square down to Ghiradelli Square and tried to duplicate the same photo from 2003.

Jul 23, 2009

Nicolas Palacios Jr. 1947 - 2009

Nicolas Palacios Jr., 62, died from a heart attack Thursday, July 23, 2009, at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, CA. Our condolences and prayers are with the friends and family of Nick Palacios. He was a dear friend whose absence will be missed.


EDINBURG - Nicolas "Nico" Palacios Jr., 62, passed away Thursday, July 23, 2009 at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, California.
Mr. Palacios was born in Parkin, Arkansas and had lived in Edinburg most of his life. He was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Edinburg.

He is preceded in death by a son, Nicolas Santos Palacios; his father, Nicolas Palacios Sr.; and a brother, Ernesto Palacios.

Mr. Palacios is survived by his wife, Frances Palacios of Edinburg; 7 children, Jaime (Lupita) Palacios of Brownsville, Ricardo (Denise) Palacios, Joseph (Karla) Palacios, Criselda Palacios, Dr. Melva Palacios, Mario Palacios and Guillermo Palacios all of Edinburg; 12 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; his mother, Lucia Palacios of Edinburg; 4 brothers, Fred (Maria Elena) Palacios, Juan (Rita) Palacios, Judge Terry (Hope) Palacios all of Edinburg, and Rene Palacios of Weslaco; 6 sisters, Teresa (Pedro) Leal of Elsa, Janie (Rodolfo) Zamorano, Olga (Ricardo) Rodriguez, Judge Mary Alice (Pedro) Palacios-Hernandez, Julie Ann Palacios and Patricia (Alfredo) Garza, all of Edinburg.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 9 p.m., with a 7 p.m. rosary Sunday, July 26, 2009, at Memorial Funeral Home, 208 East Canton, in Edinburg.

Funeral service will be at 1 p.m., Monday, July 27, 2009 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Edinburg.

Interment will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Edinburg. Pallbearers will be Federico Palacios Jr., Ruben Palacios, Juan "Sonny" Palacios Jr., Omar Palacios, Ernesto Palacios Jr. and Rene Palacios. Honorary pallbearers will be Joel Carcano Jr., Pedro Leal Jr., Rodolfo Zamorano Jr., Eric Caceres, Alfredo Garza Jr., Judge Ricardo Rodriguez Jr., Judge Mario Ramirez and Mayor Richard Garcia.

Funeral services are under the direction of Memorial Funeral Home in Edinburg.

Jul 18, 2009

"The Wall" - A Powerful Indictment

The director of the movie, "The Wall", Ricardo A. Martinez, was surprised by the full house reception by so many from the Valley to his "small budget" documentary about the border wall. I greeted him and complimented him on his work. I was pleasantly surprised by the humble nature of Mr. Martinez and was struck at how grateful he was that a public official attended his premiere.

I told him that the honor was mine and that he was doing a great service to all our constituents on the border (and for that matter all Americans) for exposing the misguided and wasteful structure that these difficult times and shortsighted politicians have saddled us with.

I make these statements as a "law and order" moderate/conservative who has spoken out against the rise of drugs and drug violence along the border - long before it was fashionable to do so. After any reasonable cost-benefit analysis of this issue makes it is readily apparent that the costs far outweigh the benefits when it comes to the wall's construction and maintenance. Lastly the wall fails to address the fundamental issues causing our country's immigration problem.

Sadly, I told him, he was doing the job that most public officials were failing to do, even at this late date when the cost of the wall has skyrocketed and it's effectiveness brought into question. I apologized for those in our local community that failed to have the foresight and collaborated to bring about the project. He remained humble and was startled by the reception and praise he was receiving by the attendees.

On Saturday, July 18th, the film comes to San Antonio at the Guadalupe Theatre. Thereafter the film will be sold on DVD and I recommend it to all taxpayers who are interested in receiving a point of view rarely shared by politicians.

Jul 17, 2009

"The Wall" - A Documentary

The documentary "The Wall", premieres tonight at 8 p.m. at Cine El Rey, in McAllen, Texas. This movie chronicles the effects of the border wall construction on surrounding communities along the border.

I have looked forward to attending tonight's premiere in that it should raise awareness to a problem in search of real solutions. I have made my feelings clear about a project that I believe history will undoubtedly see as an expensive failure that came to symbolize the fears of a nation at the beginning of the 21st Century and the failure of it's leaders to look beyond the simplistic for solutions. The unforgiving view of history will not look kindly on the local governmental officials who collaborated in it's construction. I am hoping tonight's movie tells the story of the human cost this misguided project has spawned.

Ultimately, we the citizens of this country must hold our officials accountable to find real solutions to the immigration question and not be satisfied with grand expensive symbolism that may temporarily satisfy the fears of a nation only to later realize that the problem remains as does the continued expense from a feel good project that failed to deal with the underlying problems of immigration.

I hope to see you there if your in town and would like to hear your feedback on real permanent solutions that confront us on this difficult question.

THE WALL Screening & Director Q&A
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, July 17
WHERE: Cine El Rey, 311 S, 17th St., McAllen
COST: $5 at the door
ONLINE: http://www.thewalldocumentary.com

Jul 14, 2009

Dress for Success RGV Rings Closing Bell at NASDAQ

The Rio Grande Valley's Dress for Success organization does fine work serving women in need of assistance entering the job market. At 3:00 p.m., Texas time, representatives from the Valley organization will participate in the closing of NASDAQ Stock Exchange with the ringing of the closing bell.

The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations known as NASDAQ, is an American stock exchange. It is the largest electronic screen-based equity securities trading market in the United States.

The group is in New York to attend their annual conference.

Jul 12, 2009

Texas State Guard: 2009 Annual Training

I had the pleasure to work as (XO) executive officer to Major Craig Nunez who acted as Commander of the annual training exercise. My appreciation is also extended to Commanding General Christopher J. Powers for his lifetime of military service. The general will be entering retirement and we wish him the best. Here is a clip from one of his last speeches to the soldiers.

Jul 8, 2009

On The Road Again

I'm heading out on a road trip again. This time it's to Brownwood, Texas, with a short layover in Austin.

Stopping in Austin for a little work and other essentials is perfectly understandable but Brownwood, Texas? What for you ask?

Brownwood is a small Central Texas city of about 19,000 people. It serves as the county seat of Brown County, Texas. The heritage of this community is agriculture, oil, railroad and military. People in Brownwood like to say that their city, "Feels like Home" and for at least four days that exactly what it will be for me ... home.

The Texas State Guard, of which I am a member, has it's annual training exercises in the city of Brownwood. Just outside the city is Camp Bowie, once the largest World War II training facility in the nation. In the forties, it grew to be one of the largest training centers of the state. It is therefore appropriate that the Texas military forces gather in this location for their annual training exercises.
I have never been to Brownwood and I'm quite frankly looking forward to it. It's about 140 miles to the Northwest of Austin in an area of Texas that I have not traveled much.

My first stop is Austin. I will arrive to participate in a small reception that supporters have organized for me this afternoon.

The following day it's on to Brownwood.

Jul 4, 2009

My Best to You this 4th of July Weekend

Enjoying the ever popular fireworks show on South Padre Island with the kids and grand kids. Priceless.

Jul 2, 2009

Special Session Is Over I'm Going Home

House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2 passed. Senate Bill 3, which had the comprehensive development agreements tied to private toll roads, did not have the legislative support to get a floor vote. Therefore, our work here is done and it's time to go home.

Fallen Caryatid With Stone

by Auguste Rodin

The B. Gerald Cantor Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford University
Palo Alto, California

The following excerpt is by
Dan Bowman
from the Blog Archives at

So I was thinkin'...
...about how I was going to comment here about how you really need to be able to see the beauty in things. ...to look past the surface. ...or look at the potential. ...or just think about it for a minute.

Yeah, there's non-beauty out there. ...and perhaps close by. ...and sheer horror. ...but is that worthy of much time spent in contemplation, other than to learn from it? ...or to try to change it?

But to be able to open your mind and your senses, to be able to look and see...
...and to be able to at least try.

Years ago, Robert Heinlein used this statue in one of his stories to attempt to show beauty where apparently there was none. His words:

This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She's a good girl---look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone, not even the gods...and still trying to shoulder her load, after she's crumpled under it.
But she's more than just good art denouncing bad art; she's a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women---this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It's courage...and victory.
Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn't give up...she's still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her...she's all the unsung heroes who couldn't make it but never quit.

Robert A. Heinlein,
Stranger in a Strange Land
...and then I'm reinforced with some emails.
...and by garret ... with two photos.
...and I go on about my day.