Sunday, January 15, 2006

It can't be so soon

I was just reading an article in The Monitor about the people involved in "helping" the residents around the contaminated pesticide plant in Mission, Texas. I wrote about this earlier in another post. This is turning into a mess.

To summarize the article, Mauro Reyna, who is running for Hidalgo County District Attorney, paid Ester Salinas, a very prominent "activist" in bringing attention to the plight of the families living in and around the contaminated plant. He says he paid her "a lot of money". Reyna is suing a long list of companies with the help of our County Judge, Ramon Garcia. Garcia claims to not be involved with whatever agreement Reyna had with Salinas. Attorneys are not permitted to share attorney's fees with non attorneys. So, Reyna's contract with Salinas is argued to be void. Whatever payments she received are said to be for hourly work.

Our current DA, Rene Guerra, understandably will not investigate Reyna. I say understandably because it just looks bad to investigate your opponent. Where do you prove you were doing your job and not just trying to destroy the competition. So, Rene Guerra gets a pass from me for not investigating. Guerra did propose that other law enforcement entities cold investigate.

This probably won't affect the case. I don't see how it would. It does cast some suspicion on the arrangement between Mauro Reyna III and Ester Salinas. We all know that the attorneys are in the fight for money. If you look at the long list of well known defendants in the lawsuit overview, you'll see that there is some good money to be made. I don't begrudge the attorneys making money, it's expected. I guess the problem here is how they go about it.

If stuff happens with this matter, we will have the first scandal of 2006. I could not make this stuff up if I tried. Now, Ester Salinas, the strongest voice in the cause appears to have had other motives for bringing attention to the matter. Activist? It doesn't appear so. Hugo Chavez was an activist. He helped people first and then campaigned. Getting paid was not the first thing on his mind.

Of course, as noted in my previous post, I'm suspicious of the people organizing the whole thing. The affected people still live around the site. If it were me and my family living there, I would have moved at the first idea that the pollution could be dangerous. I'd worry about getting out first and then I'd worry about a court battle. If I were one of the "activists", I'd be raising money to move those people out, get them medical attention, and at the end finding them legal representation. Except that they went for the lawyers first. So, is everybody doing right by these families? What if the lawyers can't bring any compensation for another 5 years? Keep in mind, attorneys are not free. A big case like this can be very costly. Any awards would then be split between the lawyers and their clients, who will ultimately receive meager amounts when spread out. Sure, the guilty will pay. Whom will they pay?

The simplest remedy to the whole matter is to make things happen now. Don't make the affected families wait for a settlement or award that may take years or never come. I read a quote in McAllen recently. Do the Right thing. Do it Right. Do it Right now. The right thing is to get these people to a safer environment. The right way is to help them with their housing and medical costs. Most importantly, do these things now, when they need the help. Why is it when people get struck by disaster we jump to give them aid while those who are being slowly poisoned are left there without any? Why don't the "activists" get called on their failure to do something meaningful rather than simply seeking legal action? Do something out of compassion, not compensation.

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