Sep 28, 2010

Linda McKenna, New President of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership

Joined Linda McKenna, the new President and CEO for Rio Grande Valley Partnership at her welcoming event.

Linda McKenna has a strong background working on health care policy & advocacy, including involvement with the Texas Medical Association political action committee and political campaigns. Linda has been in leadership roles with many local board of directors including the American Heart Association, Harlingen High School PTSA and the Cameron/Willacy County Medical Society Alliance. She was appointed to the Governor's Commission for Women by then Governor George W. Bush and was named Chairman her second term. She is a graduate of Leadership Texas. In pursuit of a career in public service, she returned to college attained a Bachelor's degree in Government and a Master of Public Administration. McKenna is a former Senior Vice President with Valley Baptist Health System and currently serves on the Texas State Technical College Board of Regents. These were all invaluable experiences that make her an ideal choice for such an important Partnership role.

Linda takes over the organization following the legendary Bill Summers.

The Tripa Club To Honor Valente Rodriguez

Hundreds upon hundreds of political activists, business community members, candidates and regular citizens will come together on October 6 to pay homage to a tradition started by a group of close friends. The tradition, the tripa club. The friends, Jesse Trevino, Al Ramirez and Tony "Scooby Doo" Escobedo. Shown with me in the picture above is the head tripero, Mr. Jesse Trevino.

The 48 year-old Tripa Club will honor TV Star and Edcouch-Elsa native, Valente Rodriguez.

The Tripa Club will gather on October 6 at 6:00 p.m. at the Palmer Pavillion in McAllen, Texas, Hackberry and McColl. I plan to be there.

Charlie Cook On The Mid-Terms

Political analyst Charlie Cook said he believes Republicans will re-claim the House in the Fall mid-term elections.

Sep 25, 2010

"Amor Por Juarez"

The El Paso Chamber of Commerce was nice enough to get me an "Amor Por Juarez" t-shirt to show support for our neighbors in the battle against drugs and drug violence. Some of the El Paso delegation who attended our Emergency Preparedness hearing are shown here with me.

Sep 23, 2010

Emergency Preparedness in El Paso

I am pleased to announce that the House Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness will be coming to El Paso tomorrow.

The turmoil in Juarez, the flooding in 2006 and last year's H1N1 scare show that El Paso has unique preparedness challenges. El Paso can play a leading role in Texas when it comes to dealing with major emergencies.

The Committee has three subcommittees. The El Paso hearing will be a meeting of the subcommittee on Border Security, Health and School Related Emergencies, chaired by State Rep. Allen Vaught.

The hearing will take place on campus at UTEP in the El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center on Friday September 24th at 1:30 pm.

In addition to testimony from the mayor and the sheriff, speakers include members of the El Paso Office of Emergency Management, the El Paso Dept. of Public Health, the University of Texas El Paso and the Red Cross.

Sep 20, 2010

Redistricting in Dallas

Owly Images

Chairing the first of three Redistricitng hearings in the Dallas Metroplex. Tomorrow we are in Arlington at City Hall.

Sep 16, 2010

Talking Drugs, Addiction at Texas A&M Commerce

I have just wrapped up my visit here in Commerce. This is such a wonderful community with some great people. The campus is beautiful with a diverse student body. I look forward to visiting again. My thanks to Dr. LaVelle Hendricks for inviting me to speak at the university.

I am now off to Dallas for a series of Emergency Preparedness and Redistricting hearings.

Sep 14, 2010

UTPA's Social Media Conference 2010

Hillary Clinton on Mexico's Bicentennial

Mexico's Bicentennial
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Washington, DC

Happy Bicentennial, Mexico. This September 16th, we honor the heroes of Mexico who first declared their independence from the Spanish Crown 200 years ago, and to all those who rose up to defend Mexico’s ideals of democracy, liberty, and justice during the revolution 100 years later. Thanks to their sacrifice, Mexico today is a strong, modern country with a thriving economy, and one of the world’s most admired cultures.

Our nations are connected by the busiest border in the world, by a rich economic partnership, by a vibrant exchange of cultures, and by the millions of Mexican Americans who have contributed so much to our own nation. Our common history and our common future gives us the courage and the foundation to build an even stronger base for our work together.

Mexico and the United States share so much. With confidence in our democratic institutions, our shared values, and our unwavering friendship, we will continue working together to confront the challenges in the 21st century, and to build prosperity and peace for all of our people.

As we celebrate 200 years of your independence, we look forward to a long future of friendship and close cooperation. Viva Mexico!

Sep 13, 2010

My Busy Committee Schedule

Sept. 17
10:30 AM House Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness (Hearing Notice)

1:00 PM House Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness (Hearing Notice)

Jack Evans Police Headquarters, 2nd Floor Media Conference Room
1400 S. Lamar Street
Dallas, Texas

Sept. 20
12:00 PM Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Redistricting (Hearing Notice, Hearing Notice)

George Allen Courthouse, Central Jury Room
600 Commerce Street
Dallas, Texas

Sept. 21
10:00 AM Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Redistricting (Hearing Notice, Hearing Notice)

Arlington City Hall Council Chambers
101 West Abram
Arlington, Texas

Sept. 22
10:00 AM Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Redistricting (Hearing Notice, Hearing Notice)

UT-Dallas Campus
Room CN 1.112 of the Conference Center
800 West Campbell Road
Richardson, Texas

September 24
1:30 PM House Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness
(Hearing Notice)

UT-El Paso Campus
El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center
El Paso, Texas

October 18
11:00AM Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Redistricting (Hearing Notice, Hearing Notice)

John Gray Center
Building A, Richard Price Auditorium
855 East Florida Avenue
Beaumont, Texas

October 20
11:00 AM Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Redistricting (Hearing Notice, Hearing Notice)

Harrison County Courthouse
District Courtroom, #1 Peter Whetstone Court
Marshall, Texas

Sep 7, 2010

Public Redistricting Hearing - Sept. 20 - Dallas

September is going to be a busy month for my legislative schedule.

Of great importance will be my work on the subject of redistricting chairing a joint subcommittee hearing in Dallas on September 20th.

The meeting will between the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, Subcommittee of Downtown Dallas Redistricting as well as with the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting.

The joint subcommittee hearing will be held at the George Allen Courthouse, Central Jury Room, 600 Commerce Street, Dallas, Texas, 75202. The joint subcommittee hearing will begin at 12:00 Noon to receive public testimony.

Hope to see you there.

Sep 3, 2010

Enjoy Your Labor Day Weekend

"Outside a person's love, the most sacred thing they can give is their labor." So said a wise man. Now with the end of this business day, it is time to lay down the work for an extended weekend of faith, family and friends. Again, enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!

Sep 2, 2010

Thanks to the McAllen Chamber for the Special Recognition Today

My sincere appreciation to the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and Steve Ahlenius for the beautiful plaque they presented me with at Thursday's luncheon. The McAllen Chamber does great work. There were over 250 community and business leaders at the event.

As South Texas goes, so goes the state and the nation and the McAllen Chamber has done so much to champion our community. Texas has fared better than most of the nation in this recent economic downturn thanks in large part to a diverse and vibrant economy. I am honored to be recognized by this outstanding organization.

We recently lost a tireless advocate for South Texas with the passing of Mike Allen. He helped create this model of service that balanced the spiritual, social and economic needs of our community. The Chamber has been shaped by his influence and I am proud to have known him and called him my friend.

The Chamber has over 2000 members and represents business throughout the city of McAllen and all of South Texas. There were business people from Mission to Raymondville present at the luncheon and I know Mike was there in spirit too.

Thanks again to the Chamber for the recognition.

Good Day McAllen Luncheon

Good Day McAllen Luncheon
Thurs. Sept. 2
McAllen Country Club
11:30 - 1:00PM
call 956-682-2871.

Sep 1, 2010

Redistricting: A Public Discussion

Reps: Redistricting could negatively impact Rio Grande Valley
1 September 2010
Steve Taylor
Rio Grande Guardian

WESLACO, Sept. 1 - GOP efforts to create a new conservative congressional district in Corpus Christi could result in the Rio Grande Valley losing its two experienced U.S. House members, Solomon Ortiz and Rubén Hinojosa.

That was one of the scenarios painted by Texas House members at an in-depth meeting about redistricting hosted by the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by TXU on Wednesday. The scenario seemed to take members of the audience by surprise.

“I am stunned. I had no idea this was going on, that we could lose our congressmen,” Mercedes Mayor Joel Quintanilla told the Guardian, at the end of the meeting. “It is a huge concern. We would lose so much. We are a fast growing region with strong needs. We cannot afford to lose representation.”

The three Texas House members who gave their views on redistricting were Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, and Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen.

Gonzales was not able to contribute as much as she would have liked to the debate because she had to leave half way through the meeting to catch a plane. Martinez and Peña spoke with some expertise as they sit on a joint House committee that is looking at the redrawing of political lines in Texas.

Peña gave the most detailed explanation on how the Valley could lose political clout in Washington. He said some Republicans want to create a new Hispanic-opportunity, conservative-leaning district that would be anchored in Corpus Christi. In order to do that, Nueces County would have to be split from the Valley.

Under the plan, Ortiz’s district would be anchored in Brownsville, Peña said. However, to make up the numbers for the loss of Nueces County, Ortiz’s district would have to move westward into Hidalgo County. Peña said Weslaco could find itself split between two congressional districts. “That scares the hell out of me,” said a Weslaco resident in the audience. “Me, too,” said Peña.

However, Ortiz’s district could be moved even further west than Weslaco, depending upon what the Census count shows. “It may go as far west as San Juan or Pharr,” Peña said.

If that happened, Hinojosa’s District 15 seat would have to move westward too. The Mercedes Democrat could be moved out of his traditional base of Edinburg, the Mid Valley and the Delta region, potentially forcing him to run in McAllen, Mission and western Hidalgo County, much of which he has never represented before. This could make him vulnerable to a challenge in the Democratic Party primary.

Under this scenario, Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, would be moved out of Hidalgo County altogether, Peña explained.

“I’m not telling you it will happen. I’m telling you it could happen. Weslaco is in danger if being split and we need to fight to prevent that from happening,” Peña said of the Republican-backed plan.

Peña is a member of the House Committee on Redistricting. He has been participating in redistricting hearings across the state, including three in South Texas. He explained the current state of affairs.

“The Republicans are in control,” Peña said, pointing out that the GOP holds every statewide office in Texas as well as majorities in the state House and Senate. “When the (congressional) map is drawn they (Republicans) are going to have a significant say on how that map looks.”

Peña said that unlike Nueces County, where the population is “flat,” Hidalgo County is growing fast. For this reason, he said, it deserves greater representation, not less. However, he pointed out that redistricting is not conducted based on fairness. “It is a game of politics. We are historically a Democratic region and so we are the first ones likely to get cut to our disadvantage because we are not in control of the process,” he said.

Peña concluded his remarks by claiming Republicans are trying to make a clean sweep of the Texas House seats in Nueces County. “Corpus has trended conservative. There is a growth of conservative Republicans in Corpus. The real shocker of this next cycle is there is a potential for Corpus to go all Republican based on redistricting,” he said.

Martinez said he was concerned about South Texas’ loss of seniority in Washington if the region’s congressional lines are radically redrawn.

“In Congress, seniority matters,” said Martinez, pointing out that Ortiz is among the 40 most experienced members in the U.S. House. He asked the audience if a freshman House member could bring in as much as federal funding for the ports of Brownsville and Corpus Christi as Ortiz can and does. He then answered his own question. “Probably not, the funding may decrease. We need to think about seniority.”

If Ortiz’s district is anchored in Brownsville, “a Hidalgo County candidate could not win that seat,” Martinez said.

Because the population of Texas has shot up over the past decade, it could be rewarded with three or four extra congressional seats. Rep. Gonzales said the Valley deserves to have one of them because it is one of the fastest growing parts of the state.

“We have the opportunity to gain an extra congressional seat and even, possibly, another state representative seat. If we gain another congressional seat it means more money for the Rio Grande Valley. The Valley needs to get as much representation as it can,” she said.

However, if Nueces County is split from the Valley, Hidalgo County has no chance of anchoring a new congressional seat, Gonzales warned. She said Corpus Christi would lose out too, because Ortiz’s seniority would be missed.

“They lose and we lose. They lose because they lose a senior congressman. We lose because we have lost their population to sustain another congressman. That can be dangerous for us,” Gonzales said.