Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Even Better

I found out that the UTPA library also lends video cameras. This is awesome. I don't have any practical applications for one at this time. However, it's good to know in case I need one for a future event.

New Idea

It just occured to me that I can do something that my wife has wanted to do for a while. She wanted to take oral histories of people to bring to the University for archiving. What occured to me is that we can make the recordings on her iRiver, save them in mp3 format and then burn them onto CD. This would preserve the audio in excellent quality.

Borderfest Coming Up

Border fest is from March 2nd to the 5th, 2006. This is one of the big events in the Rio Grande Valley. This year's theme is "Salute to Carnaval". I plan on going with my family. Some of the entertainers at Borderfest this year are:

  • Juan Gabriel
  • Ramon Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte
  • Brad Paisley
  • Jimmy Gonzalez y Mazz
  • David Lee Garza y los Musicales
  • Angela Peterson
  • Ninel Conde
  • Los Palominos
  • DJ Kane
  • Carlos y Jose
  • Solido

You should plan on going if you live in the Rio Grande Valley. It's definitely a fun day for the family.

Oh, wow!

It turns out that UTPA does have sound and video editing computers. I accidentally found where they are stashed. I'm working to figure out how to run the software. I won't be able to edit video as I don't have a video camera to capture that sort of thing.

Texas Young Democrats Hosting DA Candidates

The Texas Young Democrats at the University of Texas Pan American invite you to come and meet the candidates for Hidalgo County District Attorney, Alma Garza, Rene Guerra, and Mauro Reyna, on Tuesday, February 28, 2006. The event will be held at the Social & Behavioral Sciences building SBS101 between noon and 1 PM.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Way to go!

Sally Perez and Michael Garner, campaign workers at Laura Hinojosa's HQ were quoted in Corrie MacLaggan's piece in the Austin American Statesman about the Latino Vote. Woohoo! Way to go you two.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

RGV Life Podcast #9

Adventures in politics, new website, reunion with friends, birthdays in the Rio Grande Valley, barbecue, and fun places for the kids.

MP3 File

Check out this cool radio station

shainelee@yahoo.com (shainelee@yahoo.com) has sent you a message
Personal Message:

Here is the music to which I listen. I am an addict to the services offered by Yahoo!

shainelee's Station

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Looking for some fun

Today, I had wanted to take my kids to the events in Edinburg. Earlier this week, I saw the banner over University Drive in front of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. I woke up a little late today, then went over to the Laura Hinojosa campaign to see what I could do, and got home around 5pm. The kids were ready and waiting to go. So, we went to Edinburg and we couldn't find the event. I hope it was more than just the parade and we simply couldn't find it. In Mission, when we have the Texas Citrus Fiesta, it lasts all day and into the evening. In Hidalgo, the Border Fest lasts all day and into the evening. Suffice it to say, we didn't find anything.

Having set out to have some fun, we aimed to do it. We were out close to the Carmike Theatre and Planet Pizza. Having never been to Planet Pizza and being deficient in fun, we decided to go. We could dig the whole buffet idea. Although it's all you can eat, we don't always eat all we can. It's nice in there, very roomy. The detail is great. It's just missing something. We tried the game room and were disappointed. Many of them were not working, they were either out of order or would just eat your tokens. We had limited options for the kids, so we decided to leave. We probably won't return.

Still lacking fun, we thought about going to The Zone Action Park in McAllen. So we drove over there. At first, we were almost disappointed. The machine by the door that dispenses cards was not working. Fortunately, we found one that does work. We intended to play outside, but the bumper boats were not running and our son is too small for the go-karts. Of course, we're not about to toss the 4 year old in the batting cage. That just left miniature golf, but it was already getting cool. Fortunately, The Zone has more variety in games and a larger percentage of them work. Plus, they have the standard fare in "fun food" like nachos, ice cream, soda, corn dogs, etc... We will definitely return there.

Seeing Old Classmates

Last night, my wife and I went to Tico's on 23rd and Industrial in McAllen to meet some old friends from Mission High School. She and I graduated together. It wasn't an official class reunion, that's still a ways off. We had one friend fly in from Chicago and another friend from Los Angeles. The rest of us are schlepping along here in the Rio Grande Valley.

After having drinks and botana at Tico's, we went over to somebody's house with more beer and had a good time. We chatted, played pool, and watched some funny video clips on the computer. What is really nice about seeing old friends is seeing them again. You share a common history. You can laugh about things you did together or with other people you knew. And, you can also, in a way, see that you're not alone. Other people are struggling as much as you, although in different ways. I guess, it's a sort of reassurance that you're not wasting your life away on meaningless endeavors. Ultimately, what matters is not how much money you made or how many fancy things you bought. What matters are the relationships you have with others and how you touched their lives. That's what everybody remembers about you.

Overnight Poll Results

Here are the results of the survey at SpinRGV for the different elected offices. Let me remind you that the poll is unscientific and probably worthless. But it is fun to see how readers of RGV Life divide up on the election. The surveys are still open if you wish to vote. I'll leave them up until March 7.

Who do you support for Hidalgo County Judge?

Ramon Garcia 17

JD Salinas 14

Who do you support for Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 2?

Hector "Tito" Palacios 4

Gregorio Treviño 5

Who do you support for Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 4?

Don Medina 2

Leonard Camarillo 6

Oscar Garza 4

Who do you support for District Clerk of Hidalgo County?

Omar Guerrero 3

Laura Hinojosa 6

Robert Mendoza 1

Who do you support for Hidalgo County Clerk?

Andrew Perez 1

Arturo Guajardo 1

Balde Morales 3

Jose Angel "Joseph" Campos 4

Who do you support for Hidalgo County District Attorney?

Alma Garza 4

Rene Guerra 1

Mauro L. Reyna 4

Who do you support for 92nd District Court?

Eric Cardenas Jarvis 7

Ricardo Rodriguez 3

Who do you support for 13th Court of Appeals, Pl. 4?

Esther Cortez 1

Nelda Vidaurri Rodriguez 2

Who do you support for Hidalgo County Court at Law No. 1?

Jesse Contreras 5

Judge Rodolfo "Rudy" Gonzalez 4

Who do you support for Texas House of Representatives, District 38?

David Gonzalez 3

Eddie Lucio, III 1

Alfredo Montano 0

Arnie Olivarez 0

Friday, February 24, 2006

Poll: Who do you support for Hidalgo County Judge?

I posted a new poll to find out which way everybody leans. It's totally unscientific, but it should be fun. Visit SpinRGV to participate. Let me know if you want other polls.

I added more polls if you wish to stick around the site and vote. Let's see how close we get to the results after March 7. Go to http://www.spinrgv.com/modules.php?name=Surveys

Firefighters Helping One of Their Own

George Stanley Wyant III, a firefighter with Mission Fire Department, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just before Christmas last year. He is currently on medical leave and is undergoing chemo therapy every other week for six months.

George has been with the Mission Fire department since he was 16 years old. He started out as an Explorer, became a volunteer at the age of 18, and attended and graduated from the firemen’s academy after graduating from high school. He has continued with his education by getting certifications to deal with on-the-job situations and other life-saving certifications that he has been interested in. He has also taught some first aid, CPR and other miscellaneous classes during his employment with the fire department.

This man’s life is firefighting. He thoroughly enjoys the job and the fact that he does get to help people, even if he has to see the ones that are lost. He comes from a family that has a history of firefighters. This is one reason why he chose to be a firefighter. He had great role models and decided to follow in some of their footsteps. There are family members that are firefighters all over Texas and even a cousin that is a Navy firefighter. His great grandfather helped found the fire department in Waco and there are still relatives that work in that area. He has a great uncle that is a Fire Chief, a great aunt that is an Assistant Fire Chief, and his mom's dad helped found the volunteer fire department in Mission and helped build one of the first tankers that Mission Fire Department had, in approx. 1970, with an uncle, Hollis Rutledge Sr. and possibly Ray Landry who his mom believes was the fire chief at the time.

The fire department has chosen to show how much they care for George by having a fund raiser to help pay for his medical bills. The chemotherapy, and other routine visits, is proving to be costly for him. Mission, Harlingen and Brownsville fire departments are joining in the effort to try to raise $10,000 for his medical costs. The president of the Mission Fire Department IAFF Local 3609 is heading this up. They will be filling up firemen helmets all over the intersections in Mission on Saturday, February 26, and in Brownsville as well and Harlingen Fire Fighters will be coming to Mission and helping in this endeavor.

George is planning on returning to fire fighting and continuing his education when he is well enough. The fire fighters are hoping this will help him out and ease some of the stress. For now he is home with his family. He is married to Gloria and has two sons, Joseph, who will be turning four in a few days, and Theodore, who is 18 months old. George is turning 28 today (February 24). He will not be learning of this fund raiser until today and it will probably make his birthday even better.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Starting a New Site

I am starting a new site for Rio Grande Valley politics at Spin RGV. I haven't fully customized it pending input from members. I don't want to be king of the site like some other sites that popped up where they restrict your participation. Where's the fun in that? The site will allow you to remain anonymous, just don't publish your personal info.

All members have the ability to write articles that will come out on the front page (subject to approval, of course). There are also forums wide open for all topics. Cool, responsible members can gain privileges like being a moderator and the ability to approve articles.

Feel free to join and kick the tires a little bit. If you want to start posting, dale gas. Just give me time to customize it some more. I barely activated the site today. I had the idea a while back, but wasn't sure about making it. Tell me how you like it.

I'm still going to run RGV Life, it'll just be less about politics.

I went to vote

I walked by the polling location at the Pan Am library and saw that they have a space for the Republican Primary. So, I thought, what the hell? I'll vote. So, I took my license, the worker got my precinct off the computer and I was sent over to the Democrat side. I must have signed up as a Dem back in my youth. I'll need to fix that. In the meantime, I got to vote in the Dem. primary. So, it's over for me. It doesn't matter what the candidates do anymore, my choices have been cast. I can finally step back from all the reading and writing about politics. I'm free! By the way, if you support Kinky Friedman, don't vote. He needs people who have not voted to get him into the general election.

I also want to take the opportunity to let you know that Votexas kicks ass. The polls used to have a giant printout with voter info for your precinct. Then, the workers would look for your name line by line and cross you off. It's much faster with the computers because they can find your info with your ID number. Then, the voting machine adjusts itself according to your precinct. And then, you get your precinct's ballot. This means that you don't have to wait for the machine set up for your precinct. You can use any available machine. The process is so much faster. The machines are easy to understand,they are touchscreen, and can be in English or Spanish. Once you make your selections, it gives you a chance to review your choices. Afterwards, there is a red button at the top that lights up for you to press it and cast your ballot. I can't wait until November 7th to vote again.

I think that the whole process will be much faster this year on election day due to the improvements.

Some Old News

Somebody gave me a reference to this article and I looked it up. It started me thinking, if you can raise money without being in a race, perhaps I ought to start fundraising. I have no hope of winning an office. I'm just not as smooth as some of the candidates. But if I start a campaign fund and run for offices, knowing I won't win, then I'd have the benefit of an office to work in and the excuse to throw barbecues to raise more money. Should I? Naah.

This is from the Rio Grande Guardian. Run a search of "Sylvia Handy"
Though not on ballot, funds pour into Handy's campaign

WESLACO - Hidalgo County Commissioner Sylvia Handy does not have an opponent in the upcoming election. In fact, she is not on the ballot. However, that did not stop campaign contributors giving her $83,500 during the last reporting period.

Handy’s campaign finance report shows the Weslaco commissioner spent $33,475 during the July 1 to Dec. 31, 2005, period. During the same period she received $83,500 in campaign contributions.

During the first six months of 2005, Handy reported campaign contributions totaling $6,870. She has an outstanding loan of $100,000.

As the Guardian reported at the time, Handy held a meeting at Tony Roma’s restaurant in McAllen on Dec. 15, 2005, to discuss the coordination of campaign activities by a slate of countywide candidates in the eastern part of the county...

...according to unnamed sources at the meeting, Handy asked each candidate to contribute $10,000 towards her Get out the Vote effort in Precinct 1. Handy would not confirm this to the Guardian and did not return calls about her most recent campaign finance report.

...Of the $83,500 collected over the past six months, $21,500 came on or after Dec. 15, Handy’s campaign finance report shows...

I took out the names of who attended the Tony Roma's meeting and who contributed. You can probably look up campaign finance reports for the latter.

Top Overnight Recordings

Here are the overnight hits on the recordings of last night's forum:
Interview with Ricardo Rodriguez 3
Interview with Judge Rudy Gonzalez 1
Interview with JD Salinas 2
Fight for the DA's Office 5
Short Interview with Dora Salinas 2
David Gonzalez for Dist. 38 Rep. 0
Ramon Garcia Vs JD Salinas 10
Arnie v Eddie v David 0
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia 2

It looks like readers of this blog are Hidalgo-centric based on the lack of interest in the Dist. 38 candidates. Also, it looks like you are really interested in two offices, County Judge and District Attorney. I see this as you guys either want to see some blood or it's a sign of looming change. What is your interest in these races?

Let's Refrain From Prostituting

The Upper Valley and Lower Valley chapters of the National Hispanic Organization (NHPO) helped sponsor three debates, moderated by KGBT Channel 4 News and held at the student center of the University of Texas Pan American. As Shaine Mata mentioned, several candidates showed up and conveyed their impressions. The event featured, among two other races, the District 38 race for the Texas House. It seems to me that these Tex. Rep. candidates failed to distinguish themselves from one another.

Attending were Arnie Olivarez (Harlingen insurance man), Eddie Lucio III (son of Sen. Lucio II), and David Gonzales (first assistant to the Cameron County DA). One Democratic challenger, Alfredo Montano, was absent having been forced to do attorney things in Corpus Christi rather than campaign in Edinburg. The lonely but "optimistic" Republican, Luis Cavazos, sent word that he would answer questions during the General Election.

Among those present, I was mostly disappointed by Arnie Olivarez's presentation. He looked like he was running for president of the die cast consumer credit card club. He wasn't presentable, hunching over the podium and speaking in stiff, military-like thoughts. He didn't strike me as someone with much vision either. Arnie even failed to capitalize on his greatest asset -- his business sense -- when Lucio III fumbled his wrap up by saying "the small business owner out there has the real solutions to the problems; I'm hear to listen to you (paraphrase)," Arnie failed to pounce. Instead, Arnie immediately followed by saying....You know what, it wasn't that memorable. But, had he stated "You're right Eddie The Third. I am that man! I do have the solutions. Listen to Eddie and vote for me, Arnie Olivarez, small business owner!," it would have been dynamic. But it didn't happen. What a blown opportunity.

There certainly was some anticipation in the run up to hearing the Senator's son be his "own man," but it quickly died when one figured out that while the sultry Lucio III gave many textbook answers to first tier questions, he offered nothing more than empty platitudes for the complex issues. Clearly, Lucio's conservative strategy assumes that he has the nomination to lose.

Mr. David Gonzales seemed to be a real nuts and bolts issues man. But, he'll have to work much harder than this Channel 4 debate if he is to overcome Lucio's lobbyist polish and Arnie's money. For example, Mr. Gonzales failed to mention any of the strong arming going on by Sen. Lucio (how can any upstart raise so much money and pick up so many endorsements if not for the Senator's heavy brow beating?) or Arnie's lack of public service (city council in 1980 isn't much to run on). Well, maybe Mr. Gonzales deserves credit for being his "own man," rather than finding it paramount to stand over the plastic veneer finish of Lucio III.

Also, no candidate really discussed how being sired by an entrenched Senator qualifies anyone for state representative. Do they have a regency criterion over there in Cameron County? In fact, hearing The Third talk about having the contacts necessary to be an effective leader sounds to me an awful lot like the stuff Becky Armendariz Klein put out in her helpless race for U.S. House District No. 25 against Rep. Lloyd Doggett. She trumped her contacts with Pres. Bush and other dignitaries as how she could affect change in the Valley. These things sounded like lobbyist one-liners. And, the people roared back. Becky was trounced at the polls. (Ah, Becky, where have all the clowns gone?) I guess the people know that when candidates prostitute themselves this way they're as empty as their calling for public service.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Call for New Legislation

I am going to ask our local Reps to call for new legislation requiring people to stand still for a camera. As it is, I'm not that good a photographer. It's that much tougher when people move. Aaron Peña is always on the move as seen here:

We chatted a bit about blogging. Those of you out there blogging, you know that it's a brotherhood of sorts. In some ways, we came to agree, it's not only documentation of a topic, it's documentation of one's life. If you go over to Aaron's blog, you can't say, with a serious face, that he's not doing anything. He tells you what he's up to. The blog also serves as a record of one's life. In my case, descendants will know that I was out learning about candidates. Perhaps this will inspire some of them to do the same. There is also a record of what one believes and if those beliefs change over time. We decided in a bipartisan way that we're cool. Who says Dems and Republicans can't get along?

Fight for the DA's Office

This was a two-on-one fight. Alma Garza and Mauro Reyna were taking whacks at Rene Guerra. The DA was swinging right back. Unfortunately, the audio is not that great on this recording. I haven't mastered sound editing, so I don't know how to clean up the sound for you.

Arnie v Eddie v David

This debate was amongst Arnie Olivarez, Eddie Lucio III, and David Gonzalez. I have not followed this race very closely, but learned much from the debate. I only got to chat with David Gonzalez. You can tell that David really wants to serve the public. Arnie strikes me as a very practical man. Eddie, damn he's smooth. Unfortunately, I only got one picture of the three and Eddie Lucio moved. Sorry, Eddie. This is my only pic. I'm going to hell for this.

Ramon Garcia Vs JD Salinas

This was the first debate of the evening. It wasn't a catfight; but there were some good jabs. I am not sure I learned anything new, but I'll have to listen again.

Other Notables

There were other notables at the event. See if you recognize them below. I did not interview them because they were busy chatting with other people or on the phone. Despite my attendance to these things and my asking people questions, I'm still a bit shy and feel anxious about introducing myself.

Where's Waldo?

Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia

I finally got to meet current Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia. And I thanked him for the County Christmas party as I should have back in December. We did not have a lot of time to talk as we were close to the start of the event.

David Gonzalez for Dist. 38 State Rep.

I met Edie de la Fuente, Field Director for David Gonzalez. She then introduced me to David. When I first saw him, I thought he was a student. He looks pretty young. I had a chance to read his push card and asked him to elaborate on the issues a little more. That's him on the left. I did not have a chance to interview his opponents Arnie Olivarez and Eddie Lucio III.

Short Interview with Dora Salinas

I ran into JD's mom and I asked her how the campaign is doing. She was glad to give me an update. She's a very nice, friendly lady.

Early Voting in Edinburg

I went to Pan Am to do some spreadsheet work for the campaign, but I took a trip to the bookstore to sell some of my wife's old textbooks (I needed the cash). I saw that there was stuff going on down the street, so I decided to see what was happening.

I came across some people holding signs outside of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. I walked by and said hi to some of the workers.

signs in front of Ramon Garcia's Office.
Tent in front of Ramon Garcia'sThis is the scene as you walk up to Judge Ramon Garcia's Office. It's an ocean of signs. They also have a tent out where voters can stop by for some food. I don't know how true it is, but I heard that he's going to be partying the whole time for early voting. As you can see, the Judge's practice is right down the street from his County office.

The first candidate I met was Ricardo Rodriguez. I took the opportunity to interview him.

Across the street, there is also another meet and greet with Judge Rudy Gonzalez and Laura Hinojosa. So, I went over there to check things out. I interviewed Judge Rudy Gonzalez.

I also ran into Laura over there. I'm taking on the added job of taking pictures for her campaign scrapbook.

Then I went back across the street and got a chance to talk to JD Salinas. I interviewed him too.

I did not get a chance to speak with Judge Ramon Garcia, he wasn't outside of his barbecue. I'm sure I'll get a chance tonight at the UTPA debate. I'll try to get an interview although I have class during the meet and greet.

So, that was my lunch hour. I recommend, if you don't know yet for whom to vote, that you make an effort to come to Edinburg and meet the candidates. They are willing to talk to you and let you know more about themselves. Usually, in the news or commercials, they don't have a lot of time to elaborate. In person, you get a better feel for who they really are. I was a little put off by the major work that Ricardo Rodriguez is doing. After meeting him, I must say that I like him. Since his office is a new one, with no incumbent, I think it's OK to let you know that I have decided to support him. I have met Eric Cardenas briefly, but there was no connection.

I've put too much time into this already, so I need to get to work before I flunk. Just remember, go out and meet the candidates if you can. And, don't forget to vote! Take advantage of the early voting so you don't have to stand in line on March 7th. Good luck.

Interview with JD Salinas

I interview JD Salinas. My MP3 player ran out of memory, I recorded some long podcasts last night, so I did not get the whole interview. Still, I'm glad that I was finally able to speak to JD and ask him stuff for myself. I sound like a dumbass again because I couldn't figure out what to ask him at the start. Geez! How embarrassing.

I learned that he has a master's in public administration. He also also talks about the indigent healthcare a little more. I asked him about tuberculosis, and I wish I could remember what exactly he told me. It had to do, generally, with there not being enough funding to treat TB in the County and in the county jails where many of the inmates come from Mexico and carry TB with them. He also tells me that the Sheriff's Dept. is underfunded. He plans on approaching improvements by both applying for grants and cutting costs. He was telling me that he doesn't see why, if Hidalgo County has the largest budget ever, there would be departments that are underfunded. If I get another chance, I'll see if I can get a full interview.

Fast forward to about 40 seconds.

Interview with Judge Rudy Gonzalez

I interview Judge Rudy Gonzalez outside his office at the BBQ. I sound like a dumbass because (I am) I asked him why he's running for office when he's already judge. You know, nerves. I don't have any training or the confidence of a reporter, I'm sure you can tell.

In any case, the audio is not so great. Again, it needs editing, so there may be long stretches in which there is no speaking.
The judge seems like a decent fellow. He was telling me that he tries to work with some of the younger criminals to get them help in leading better lives. Fast forward to about 1:20 where the interview begins.

Street Interview with Ricardo Rodriguez

I ask Ricardo some questions about himself. His was my first interview, so I wasn't sure what to ask. I decided to interview him about something with which I identify, being migrant. He seems like a good guy, not arrogant.

Bear with me on the audio, the computers at the UTPA labs don't have audio editing software that converts from MP3 to WAV for editing. I'll have to edit these at home. You may have to fast forward a bit to the actual interview. The end is just me walking around taking pictures, so there isn't anything interesting. This will be cut later.

Went to see candidates

Listen to RGV Life audio blog entries. Usually if I can't access a computer for quick notes. This is not part of the RGV Life podcast.

MP3 File

Retro Update
Went to visit Ramon Garcia's early vote shindig at his office next to the elections office. Got to interview the candidates. Plan on going to the UTPA forum.

Learned more about JD than is available on the push cards and website. Got to interview other candidates as well.

Working and Studying

In the photo to the left is a pic of the plane with a Ricardo Rodriguez banner circling over McAllen, yesterday.

Today, I'll be volunteering for a few hours and then I'm headed to UTPA. I haven't been posting too much because I'm trying to keep up with homework and reading for class. I have my first Cost Accounting exam coming up and I really need the practice.

I'll be attending the event at UTPA tonight. I'll record the candidates, take photos, and then I'll run over to the computer lab to post all the latest for you to see and hear. I'll just share my overall impression of the event afterwards, no time to go into too much detail. It takes me a good hour or two to write a long entry. I hope to meet Judge Ramon Garcia to see if he's cool.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Fwd: Meet Your Candidates at the Student Union

I got this today in my email.

Melissa Benavides *********@panam.edu wrote:

Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 16:03:59 -0600
From: Melissa Benavides <********@panam.edu>

Subject: Meet Your Candidates at the Student Union

Meet Your Candidates
You are invited this Wednesday to a Moderated Debate
February 22, 2006
Student Union
Hosted by Student Union, NHPO, and Channel 4

5:30 - 7:00 pm Candidate Reception
7:00 - 7:28 pm Debate Hidalgo County Judge
7:35 - 8:33 pm Debate Cameron County State Rep. Dist 38
8:40 - 9:08 pm Debate Hidalgo District Attorney
Doors open at 6:20 pm for UTPA students, faculty and staff with a UTPA ID.
Doors will open to the General Public at 6:40 pm.
If special accommodations are needed, please call (956) 316-7989.

It's Party Time!

Today is the first day of early voting in the Rio Grande Valley. In Hidalgo County, particularly, the political landscape is all Democrat. There is no Republican in sight, so the primaries ARE the election. Understandably, it's party time. Many of the campaigns are having big bashes to help turn out the vote. This morning, I was at a barbacue for the Laura Hinojosa Campaign. I drove by Ramon Garcia's campaign earlier today and saw something going on. Later I heard that his people will be partying for two weeks. Tomorrow, I'll be stopping by to get some pics and maybe even meet the judge.

I even saw an airplane flying over McAllen with a banner for Ricardo Rodriguez dragging behind. The campaign workers tell me that it's been out on the weekends. Overall, this is an exciting time. This is especially true with the new electronic voting systems. Campaigns will have information about the voting come in overnight and will be able to focus their efforts.

Earlier today, I also ran into some campaign workers for Gregorio Treviño, for HC Commissioner Pct. 2. They're supporting Greg because they think Tito has been there too long. The way it was described to me is "ya se creen caciques". I don't know what a cacique would be in English. His job on a ranch is to boss the hired hands around. He was supporting the challenger because he wanted to see some change after so many years.

I also ran into supporters of Mauro Reyna and Rudy Gonzalez. If you don't have a chance to meet the candidates themselves, before you go vote, you should talk to the campaign workers and find out more about the candidates. If you get a chance, stop by campaign HQs to pick up some food and then go vote.

I realized earlier today that I won't be able to vote in the primaries because there are no Republican candidates. I'll have to wait until November to rubber stamp the Dem. candidates who win the primaries. In the meantime, I'm having fun.

Lots of food for early vote

Listen to RGV Life audio blog entries. Usually if I can't access a computer for quick notes. This is not part of the RGV Life podcast.

MP3 File

Laura Hinojosa has a barbecue for voters across the street, at Williams & Williams, from the City of McAllen tax office on 15th and Cedar. Inviting people to come over. We had lots of food to give away.

Early Voting Barbecue

Listen to RGV Life audio blog entries. Usually if I can't access a computer for quick notes. This is not part of the RGV Life podcast.

MP3 File

Laura Hinojosa has a barbecue for voters across the street, at Williams & Williams, from the City of McAllen tax office on 15th and Cedar. Inviting people to come over.

Just across the street

Listen to RGV Life audio blog entries. Usually if I can't access a computer for quick notes. This is not part of the RGV Life podcast.

MP3 File

Discovered that Ramon Garcia has an office down the street from the County Courthouse. It makes the whole argument of being a part-time county judge moot. If he shows up at his business, it's not a big deal to go to his county office.

Don't tell me how to vote

Listen to RGV Life audio blog entries. Usually if I can't access a computer for quick notes. This is not part of the RGV Life podcast.

MP3 File

Feb 21st is 1st day of early voting. If you vote early, you will save yourself time and trouble on March 7th.

Getting a lot of feedback on Laura Hinojosa's speech in Palmview. I'm getting positive and negative comments. Comments from anonymous people showing big anti-Laura bias. I won't delete those comments.

I want to bring information to others and they decide. I believe that people should make informed decisions, but I won't tell them how to vote. I expect the same respect in return. I will, however, express my opinion, which is different from telling you how to vote. I can't act on rumors because they are unverifiable.

Discuss how I am arriving at a decision. Don't think I can vote Dem in the primaries.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Year Later

Listen to RGV Life audio blog entries. Usually if I can't access a computer for quick notes. This is not part of the RGV Life podcast.

MP3 File

My daughter's school gives out awards for performance on TAKs last year. Idea is to inspire other kids to do better. I think it's too late at this point. They are not going to improve overnight.

I go to support my daughter, but I think it's absurd to have it so late.

This year the standards "got tougher". TAKS tests children on the "minimum" of performance and they can't even do that. I tie it into Core Knowledge Curriculum.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Popular Speaker Downloads

I've had a chance to check out the downloads of the speeches given at the Fiesta Ballroom in Palmview last Friday. These numbers don't mean anything more than how much interest the candidates create. I can't tell if the interest is for or against the candidates. All I can tell is how many times certain speeches were downloaded. Here they are in order of popularity:
If anything, I would guess that the most downloaded speakers represent the races with the greatest interest amongst you.
If you know of any other events where there will be a mix of candidates speaking, I would appreciate knowing so that I can attend and record those speeches as well. Today, I finally hit 1 GB of bandwidth usage for the whole month of podcasts and audio blog entries. This is good and bad. It's good because I have room to grow. It's bad because my recordings aren't so popular yet. So, I figure I can record more speeches since I have so much extra bandwidth available.

Shaine L Mata
Read my unsolicited opinions at

RGV Life Podcast #8

The podcast is a little over 12 Mb, under an hour. I go over some of the topics on the blog, but decided to depart from the format for the second half. I talk about tostadas, being migrant, and how my family wound up living in Mission. As soon as the primaries are over, I will be able to go back to what RGV Life originally covered.

music: romany dance by hellozero.

MP3 File

Going for Barbacoa

Listen to RGV Life audio blog entries. Usually if I can't access a computer for quick notes. This is not part of the RGV Life podcast.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Post Event Notes

Yesterday, I posted an announcement about the event tonight. I started helping Sally with folding some flyers and getting ready for the event in Palmview. Later we went to Palmview to prepare the location. When we got there, the ballroom was still locked. Rose, Kino's staff member who organized the event, made some calls to have the place opened up. It was during this time that the cold front decided to move in, so we were freezing and getting wet.

Once we got in, we started setting up the tables and decorations. Sally and I went back to the headquarters to pick up a couple of 4 x 8 signs to put on some really high-visible locations that JD's people missed. Before leaving, we put up some lawn signs outside, or attempted. The dirt is REALLY hard to penetrate out there. From there, I went for my people (family) and we arrived a bit late, but in time to catch the speeches.

The equipment used to record is an ordinary iRiver T10 MTP, which records and encodes in mp3 format. These recordings use the built-in microphone on the iRiver. The camera is a Nikon Coolpix 5600. It's a good camera, I'm just a lousy photographer.

I haven't decided whether or not to put the recordings in the podcast feed. I took out the direct mp3 links too. I am not sure if I should force people to visit the site to hear the recordings or just distribute them freely through the podcast feed. The reason for this is that I went through the trouble of bringing the media to you, which anybody else could do, yet don't. I'd appreciate feedback on the issue.

I took some other pictures. One is of Sally hiding her face, but I won't post it, she obviously did not want to be seen on the web. Michael Garner, seen sitting here, is probably as much of a ham as me.

And these two are my people, Magnus and Tien. I did not stay to interview and schmooze with the candidates because we wanted to take these two to watch Curious George. By the way, I recommend you go watch the movie with your kids. It's funny, and very innocent. You walk out feeling... happy.

Jesse Contreras Speech

Jesse Contreras speaking at Fiesta Ballroom event sponsored by Kino Flores and western Hidalgo county mayors. Speech is in Spanish.

Arturo Guajardo, Jr. Speech

Arturo Guajardo, Jr. speaking at Fiesta Ballroom in Palmview. Event sponsored by Kino Flores and western Hidalgo County mayors. Speech is in Spanish.

Ricardo Rodriguez Speech

Ricardo Rodriguez speaking at the Fiesta Ballroom in Palmview. The event was sponsored by Kino Flores and western Hidalgo County Mayors. The speech is in Spanish.

Laura Hinojosa Speech

This is Laura Hinojosa speaking at the Fiesta Ballroom in Palmview, Tx. The event was sponsored by State Rep. Kino Flores and western Hidalgo County mayors. The picture is lousy, but better than the others I took. I did a poor job on this. The speech starts in English and ends in Spanish.

DA Rene Guerra Speech

This is Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra speaking at an event at the Fiesta Ballroom in Palmview, TX. It was sponsored by State Rep. Kino Flores and western Hidalgo County Mayors. The speech is in Spanish. No picture available.

JD Salinas Speech

This speech is at the Fiesta Ballroom in Palmview, TX. The event was sponsored by State Rep. Kino Flores and western Hidalgo County Mayors for JD and other candidates. The speech is in spanish. Both Pictures are lousy, sorry.

State Rep. Kino Flores Introduces Candidates

This is State Rep. Kino Flores introducing the candidates at Fiesta Ballroom event in Palmview, Tx.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Mixed reactions drawn in attorney straw poll

In the mercifully short program that was produced by the Foundation (who gets high marks for compiling the program if not for pretesting the sound and lighting), several key Hidalgo County politicians seeking election tried to withstand opponent and member scrutiny. Most made decent appearances, some simply withered before your very eyes.

The results of the straw poll can be seen on Rep. Aaron Pena's website.

It would appear that the Ramonistas and the Cardenistas have fallen out of favor with their fellow attorneys, losing the straw poll among the Hidalgo County bar. At last night's Hidalgo County Bar Foundation debate, scores of attorneys and other professionals flooded the Cimarron Country Club to listen to several Hidalgo County-wide candidates offer their insights and views on several tough questions offered by the Hidalgo County Bar membership. Jerry Polinard, poli sci prof at UT-PanAm, moderated. It was a political feast.

First in the line up were the county clerk candidates. This five-way race didn’t field the most presentable of characters and nothing really distinguished them. While everyone wants to “modernize” the county clerk’s office and bring efficiency, none offered much outside their banal promises. However, Andrew Perez did state that he was one of the better educated in the bunch. Too bad he finished a very distant second.

The appellate court primary contestants quickly offered their promises of impartiality. There are three seats up for grabs in the six-member appellate court. The listed candidates pretty much fell along geographical boundaries. Gina Benavides, local litigator, quickly kicked into trial attorney mode as she immediately went for the jugular, stating that her incumbent opponent was ranked last in an approval poll taken of appellate court justices. Gina’s running for13th Court of Appeals, Place 5, against Justice Errlinda Castillo. Errlinda said she needed more staff. Local justice Hinojosa faces Rose Vela in the general election (a no show, maybe because she’s Republican). Local attorney Esther Cortez is trying to unseat Justice Nelda Rodriguez; Esther's big thrust was that Corpus Christi people shouldn’t tell Valley people how to judge cases; and in fact, “Corpus Christi might as well be Mars.” I wonder how this plays out in Nueces County or on her impartiality when looking at other region’s cases. Gina will likely pick up the win.

Fidencio Guerra, candidate for County Court at Law No. 6, had a numb reaction when asked his opinion about making the ignoble list of 5 worst judges by the Texas Observer. “I’m not familiar with that article and never heard of the publication.” (The Texas Observer is a liberal rag with an intellectual following.) But, to his credit, Fidencio shrugged off the article stating that he doesn’t care what those in Austin or Dallas say about him, only those in the community who elect him. Hmm. Yet, he is still poorly viewed by the DA’s office, and he has such a rotten judicial temperament the stench of which has permeated the State of Texas so badly that he ranks as the only Democratic district judge to make the liberal publication. Still doesn’t care I’m sure.

Well onto the district clerk’s office featuring Laura Hinojosa, Robert Mendoza, and the perennial no-show Omar Guerrero. The likable former bailiff, Mr. Mendoza, did speak to his experience in the courtroom – as a bailiff – as proof that he knows how to get things done efficiently at the Hidalgo County Courthouse. (Let's hope it's not with a badge and a gun, like those Santa Rosa cops.) Ms. Hinojosa, on the other hand didn’t flex such virility. On the contrary, she seemed meek, soft-spoken, and a bit repetitive, although she did have a message for which Mr. Mendoza couldn’t counter: a long history of proven public service.

The square off between Yao Ming-like Jesse Contreras and Lollipop Guild member Rudy Gonzalez produced a few other oddities. When accused by Jesse of campaigning from the bench and soliciting for contributions in his judge's chambers, from attorneys present on called cases, Rudy not only conspicuously refused to condemn the practice but he also didn't deny the activity. Is this when we begin to ask the difference between legal and ethical?

The DA's race will likely see the reelection of 20 year incumbent Rene Guerra. Not only did he demonstrate a keen knowledge into the black pit known as the Hidalgo County District Attorney's office, he charismatically swiped away his challengers (well-known criminal defense attorneys Mauro Reyna and Alma Garza) like a black bear batting around honey jars. They may be right: he may be too entrenched in bureaucracy to have any fresh ideas on modernization, he may be slow to prosecute voting irregularities, he may even depend on politiqueras, but so what if you cannot demonstrate your shrewd competence on call rather than plainly dtate "i'm better and smarter, vote for me."

The race of the evening, between The Ramonista versus JD, proved entertaining: Ramon accused JD of taking on too much debt through county commissioners and bankers; JD accused Ramon of investing more time in practicing law than working as a county judge; Ramon demanded JD reduce his commercials so his mother may again see her novelas; JD said he would work with the commissioners; etc. Well, I think the attorneys spoke clearly on this issue. Ramon overwhelmingly did not gather the support of his own professional peers, leaving JD (the non-attorney) with the unofficial endorsement: 70% Juan De Dios “J.D.” Salinas, III, 30% Ramon Garcia.

Oh, one more race: Eric "I really, really, really, really want to be judge" Cardenas Jarvis looked tired, resigned, and dejected in his debate with former Edinburg city council member Ricardo Rodriguez. Such disposition did bear out very much along the same lines as his biggest fan, the Ramonista: 69% Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr., 31% Eric Cardenas Jarvis.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Podcast #8 in the works

In order to avoid some of the time crunch experienced last week in producing the podcast, I have begun recording some of the show tonight. I've broken up the show into segments rather than one long recording to facilitate editing and to allow for re-recording in case it's needed. After that, it's no big deal to paste the segments together and then export the mp3. Another benefit is that I may be able to fit the whole week's worth of posts in around the 30 minute range and allow time for your comments. I'll take my wife's iRiver to the event tomorrow. I hope to get fair recordings of the candidates for the show, or as separate podcasts.

Don't Blame Tax Cuts

Don't Blame Tax Cuts: "Federal deficits finally are getting action in Washington this year. President Bush attacked them in his State of the Union speech Jan. 31, calling for spending restraint. And Democrats are upset that President Bush's 2003 tax cuts supposedly are not prod..."

Bam! Pow! Take that, big spenders. This is really funny:
"Democrats will fight the president’s anti-widow and anti-children agenda," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,

Widows would be helped if we got rid of the death tax. Children don't pay taxes, but their parents do. Help the parents and you help the children.

Then there is this:
From 2003 to 2005, federal revenue rose to $2.15 trillion, a 20 percent rise.

So, if tax cuts result in a 20% increase over 3 years (about 6.5% a year), then Congress has been spending more than that each year. Republicans aren't going to get slack on this one. They can't blame Democrats for spending like lottery winners because they aren't in power. Yeah, yeah, the Dems are going to say all kinds of stuff about starving children, starving old people, taking wheelchairs away from the disabled, and giving tax breaks to the rich; yada, yada. Sadly, the press won't call them on these lies and Americans will buy into the nonsense. It bothers me that Dems, known for their ability to stay out of people's business and handle money, may gain traction in the coming elections. I can't feel bad for the Republicans in Congress. They brought it on themselves.

Hope arrives for La Joya Water

Hope arrives for La Joya Water: "AUSTIN - A state agency approved an $8.9 million loan to the beleaguered La Joya Water Supply Corp., paving the way for what the corporation hopes is a comeback...."

It looks like La Joya Water Supply is getting their act together after going into receivership. Of course, it's going to cost customers $8.9 million to help fix the problems created by the company's management. Let this serve as a reminder to us residents of the Rio Grande Valley that we need to be vigilant about who runs our public services. If something is wrong, complain, complain, complain. If you keep silent, you allow injustices to continue.

New program at Hidalgo ISD

New program at Hidalgo ISD: "Students will get more than a high school diploma"

This is great news and a great program for the Rio Grande Valley. The education system spends too much money trying to get slow kids up to speed with the others. Those who are gifted or even average are often ignored. Programs like this reward those students who have the desire and work ethic to get ahead. It's about time we start pushing those who can rather than drag those who can't. Despite the romantic notion, not everybody is equal. Some are born with more talent; some are born hard workers. The rest of us, well we'll get by.

Winning bid for 8-liner machines

Winning bid for 8-liner machines: "A North Carolina man has bought machines seized in raids"

This is a little fishy. How is it too expensive to destroy these machines? A good sledgehammer for about $30 and some six-packs for off duty officers would have got the job done. With this precedent, we should consider selling all the seized cocaine and marijuana too. This will get many many cars and equipment.
I know gambling is illegal, unless it's the lottery (because it's for the children). It just seems odd that the police knew exactly where to go in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties. They simply decided that they would tackle illegal gambling one day and they start busting people. What triggered the sudden interest? There are plenty of those places around. Why these, specifically?

Police officers charged with oppression

Police officers charged with oppression: "Two Santa Rosa Police officers charged with official oppression involving gun incident."

Finally, we know what "official opression" means. At least it's official. I hate un-official opression.

Dime Con Quien Andas...

Dime Con Quien Andas...: "...y te dire quien eres.U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar -- a so-called Democrat from Laredo, Texas -- wants to give $100 million dollars to the Minutemen, the racist, gun-toting vigilante group.

If you would like to help Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) win re-election, visit his site at http://www.henrycuellar.com and click on the "Contribute" link.

Unpaid Taxes

Unpaid Taxes: "Two candidates for county office share a business that didn't pay its franchise tax until The Monitor asked them why.County judge candidate J.D. Salinas and county clerk candidate Arturo Guajardo Jr. are two of four partners in Hidalgo Investments Inc., which didn't pay the tax as it was supposed to last November. The candidates say they didn't know the tax had not been paid.Guajardo, of course, put his name and picture on the county clerk website when he's just a deputy clerk. If he gets elected, I wonder if junior will steer county business to his firm, the way his father steered PSJA school district business to his store."

Sometimes, you want to support candidates, and then you learn stuff that makes you iffy. I would say do a split vote on these guys. If you vote for JD, forget Guajardo. If you vote Guajardo, forget JD. I don't think it's cool for candidates who will be working together this closely, if they win, to be in business together. Let's say JD is County Judge and Guajardo becomes County Clerk. The opportunity for them to try shenanigans is just too great to pass up. Forget the taxes, I can believe that taxes could go unpaid. They won't be the first people to miss the tax deadline. You just pay a penalty and pay your taxes. You're off the hook and the state is happy. I'm just frowning on the business parter/co-worker relationship that these guys want to pull.


I found this in yesterday's news, which gives more details about the connections between them and FNB: County Office Candidates Involved with Development Company; Pay Taxes Late. Again, paying taxes late is OK, it happens. Ironically, some of the investments of Hidalgo Investments, Inc. were tax lien properties.

I'm still going to the event tomorrow; there's free food.

Meet and Greet

There is an event being held on Friday evening, starting at 6 PM at the Fiesta Ballroom in Palmview. There will be music, food, and drinks. It's a good opportunity to meet some of the candidates. It's also a good opportunity to meet the organizers of the event. The event is sponsored by the following:
  • State Rep. Kino Flores
  • Mission Mayor Beto Salinas
  • Granjeno Mayor Rafael Garza
  • Palmhurst Mayor Ramiro Rodriguez
  • Peñitas Mayor Pro-Tem Marcos Ochoa
  • County Comm. Pct 3, Joe Flores
  • Palmview Mayor Jorge Garcia
  • Alton Mayor Salvador Vela
  • Abram Mayor Norma Estrada

You will have the opportunity to meet:

  • Arturo Guajardo, Jr
  • JD Salinas
  • Ricardo Rodriguez
  • Laura Hinojosa
  • Jesse Contreras
  • Rene Guerra

My mind is made up for District Clerk, but I haven't decided on the other offices. This is a good opportunity to meet some of these guys for the other offices. It's also a good opportunity to talk to the sponsoring politicians.

If anybody has news about any other events, please let me know. I'd like to meet some of the other candidates. I recommend meeting candidates before making up your mind, if you have the opportunity.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Not feeling well, today.
I'm text messaging from bed. No blogging today. It's such a nice day too. Have class tonight.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Job Hunt

Just in case nobody donates money to RGV Life, I have filled out applications for some job openings at UTPA. I just finished printing them all out and am headed over to Human Resources to sign and turn them in. Working at Pan Am would be really convenient for me to be able to finish my degree. It would be just one drive each day for work and class. If I get in, it will be at least a 2 to 3 year commitment for me while I finish school.

People keep asking me my major, which is Finance. I am thinking about adding Accounting to it. Then they ask me where I want to work afterwards. People think I would go into banking or some other securities type business. The truth is, I don't care where I work. As long as I can help the business make money and get well rewarded for it, the type of business is of little consequence. I simply like business. It could be the sale of products, services, or even what I do here, produce intellectual property. I really like making things happen more than I am enamored of any field. After working at the restaurants and Confetti, I came to realize that it's not so much about what you know that makes a good employee (I've had to train some). It's how hard you are willing to work and how willing you are to learn.

Working at the Campaign Tomorrow

I'll be working at the Laura Hinojosa campaign tomorrow. It's crunch time, so Sally called me up to ask if I could stop by. Woo hoo! I can't wait. I've got to study for BLAW tonight, or else I'd go today. I'll let you know my contribution.

Missing children may be in Mexico

Missing children may be in Mexico: "PALMVIEW - Shortly before classes were scheduled to begin at 7:45 a.m. Monday, Jose German Rodriguez, 31, walked inside E.B. Reyna Elementary School and quietly took his two sons...."

More on the missing boys. This is sad. Unfortunately, it's not unusual. Many custody battles here end up with a parent taking the kids to Mexico. Sometimes they are never seen again. Sometimes the other parent sends them back. I hope this lady gets her sons back.

Valley drivers feel the love at the gas pump

Valley drivers feel the love at the gas pump: "McALLEN - If you're still searching for a V-Day gift, you could always get her a tank of gas. And if you act now, you may be able to get it before she realizes gasoline prices have dipped below $2 to their lowest level in months...."

I think I saw gas at $1.85 in Edinburg on Sunday when I came in to upload the podcast. We didn't want to turn back, so I filled up down the street at $1.87. After seeing average prices in other parts of the country, it's another benefit of living in the Rio Grande Valley.

I'm selling out

I added some Paypal donation buttons to the side because I am a total sellout. Somebody mentioned that I have marketable skills, so we'll see if that's true. I don't think I have enough talent or contacts to demand a crapload of money like the Rio Grande Guardian, so I am going for small donations. This offsets some of the hobby costs like hosting the podcasts and getting new equipment. I'm working on a sob story for later to see if I can squeeze more money out of you, my readers.

I am learning more about podcasting. I realize that my calm, cool manner is probably not the most exciting for listeners, so I need to work on that. I thought that perhaps I had 2 or 3 readers and listeners. After installing the stats counter, I realized that I am getting a lot more visitors than I thought. Therefore, I realize that I have some obligation to improve the quality of the blog. So, your support is appreciated and I will rise to the challenge. Thank you in advance, if you choose to donate. If you don't donate, you can still mooch for free. It's still a hobby, so I won't be stopping anytime soon.

Podcast Archive

Podcast Archive
RGV Life Podcast #16
RGV Life Podcast #15
RGV Life Podcast #14
RGV Life Podcast #13
RGV Life Podcast #12
RGV Life Podcast #11

RGV Life Podcast #10

RGV Life Podcast #9

RGV Life Podcast #8
RGV Life Podcast #7
RGV Life Podcast #6
RGV Life Podcast #5
RGV Life Podcast #4
RGV Life Podcast #3
RGV Life Podcast #2
RGV Life Podcast #1

Boys Kidnapped from School

Monday, February 13, 2006

Good day at UTPA

Today was a good day at UTPA. I took some pictures to put our camera to work. These are on the way to my Cost Accounting class. No point to these, just for fun.

Actually, I've always wanted a picture of the cornerstone at the Fine Arts Auditorium. It didn't come out too well. I think I need overhead light for shadow. Anyway, the Grand Lodge of Texas laid the stone back in 1969.

There was no purpose to this picture, it just seemed like a good image.

Again, no purpose. It was just on the way to class.

I can't figure out why these pay binoculars are there. What were they thinking?

Nice water feature from two different views. The landscapers put this in recently.

UTPA College of Business Administration. This is where I hang out.

This is the COBA Student Lounge. I often do my school work in there. It also serves as my on-campus podcast studio. Behind me is the TV we have set to Fox News all day. Not pictured here are the vending machines, sink, and microwave. It's a cool place to hang out.

Judge for yourself

This is my first post on RGV Life. Thanks to Shaine Mata for making it happen. One of those recent blogs explained the importance of blogging for him; it encouraged me to try to contribute to his discussion on RGV life in general. I hope my writing will be a productive use of readers' time.

My first piece, "Judge for Yourself," concerns the race for judges in the Valley. It occurred to me that in having honest discussions about politics, nobody every really talks about the judicial election process. Here we have this third branch of government, designed to interpret laws and make objective decisions over the first and second branches, but whose participants (in Texas at least) must pander their thoughts and opinions to voters and political power brokers in order to obtain a position. Don't we desire objectivity in the third branch? Then why must the judges run for election, rather than become appointed? Of course, an appointment process invites its own form of cronyism and favoritism, but at least we know a judge’s will doesn't bend to the political electorate: the same people whose fate the judges are paid to pronounce.

But, at least we have the opportunity to reject those we find disagreeable. It's as much a pastime to observe Rio Grande politics as it is to point out the flawed characters of our fellow Hidalgo County judges. I think it's important to point out the hard work the rank and file judges undertake. Hidalgo County's dockets are as crowded as they come across Texas. It takes a special person to want to tackle that kind of workload.

Yet, there exist the few who do more of a disservice by their judicial service than without their presiding majesties. In fact, Hon. Fidencia Guerra, Jr., has been named one of the worst judges in the State of Texas, by the Texas Observer. I've heard rumors of a hand puppet-talking, sexist judge, but I never knew them to be true, until now. I've heard rumors of DWI judges, too, such as the trial and tribulations of Hon. Rudy Delgado. (It turns out Judge Delgado employed the same criminal defense attorney, Mr. Al Alvarez, that District Clerk Omar Guerrero hired for his pre-election DWI arrest.)

It's not that I'm against their service. We should be happy people do desire to carry their share of public service. (It’s like Shaine Mata said, Americans have a greater sense and culture in community service than others, namely Mexico.) It's that I'm bothered by feeling that this is the best we can put up as a county. Routinely laughed at and criticized by those outside the area, we must take the obvious examples of moral turpitude to consider the qualities of judges--we have to, it's our responsibility under the current system of electing them. We need to scrutinize the judicial candidates, learn what history of public service they maintain? Some semblance of community service and humanitarianism would be better than a successful attorney seeking another feather in his hat. Why do they seek positions of power? Even asking, how do they react to other person's arrest record? A condemnation of shameful acts should be valued over a laissez-faire approach for compadres.

In the meantime, I'm happy to hear more about the judicial candidates. Please let me know what you think. How do they differ? Why choose one person over the other? Unsubstantiated accusations of corruption cannot be sufficient to disfavor anyone, but perhaps their history and attitudes toward legal positions could be a tell-tale sign of their character.

Trying Out VoIP Through Gizmo Project

I am trying out a communication service that allows me to make calls over the web. It's an open standards service, which means it's compatible with other services. The reason for using it is that we don't have a home phone and it can be expensive to make long calls on my cell phone. So, this offers a good alternative for me to make phone calls where I'm going to be on hold for many minutes. They charge about 1 cent per minute, a bargain compared to the 10 cents per minute my cell phone charges. Of course, if any of you use this service, it is free for computer to computer calls.

The main reason I decided to use the Gizmo Project is because the software will allow me to call guests to the podcast and record the conversation so that I can add it to the show. So, I am hoping to have phone interviews in the future. My Gizmo Project user name is shainelee and my SIP is 1-747-638-0861. I don't think it's an active phone number, just an ID for finding me on the web.

Adult Day Care is an RGV Phenomenon

I was reading this story by Corrie MacLaggan of the Austin American Statesman. She's the reporter who interviewed me and a couple of friends earlier this year. This is one of the stories she was researching during her trip. Apparently, the adult day care centers are only successful here in the Rio Grande Valley. When my grandmother was still alive, she used to tell me how the centers she frequented would kiss up to her for her to visit them.

Overall, the daycares helped her a lot. She had fun playing bingo, reading, watching some of her friends dance, and the drama of elderly lovers. They also made sure she made it to doctor appointments. If she had trouble resolving something, the centers would make phone calls on her behalf. On occasion, they would go to South Padre Island or some other place for a change of scenery. For my grandmother, the daycare center was like a job she would go do and then come home in the afternoons. She often admitted that it kept her from feeling lonely. The centers also saved her a little money when she would have lunch there.

Overall, I have a favorable opinion of Adult Daycare Centers. They do give our elderly the attention they need without the institutional coldness of a nursing home. This is true because the patrons are free to choose which day care they frequent. This is not true of nursing homes where patients are not free to change from one to the other on a daily basis, if they choose.

I guess this is one of those instances where our culture embraces something that is not as widespread thoughout the rest of the United States. I'm telling you, we are unique.

REPUBLIC OF THE RIO GRANDE: Remember Former Edinburg Mayor -- He's Back

REPUBLIC OF THE RIO GRANDE: Remember Former Edinburg Mayor -- He's Back

El Presidente of the Republic of the Rio Grande has a good discussion going on over the Joe Ochoa v Richard Garcia race. It's a good sourc of information about politics in Edinburg. Then, there is also http://edinburgpolitics.com which seems promising.

Crap! I just checked Edinburgpolitics.com, they locked out discussions and even the public forum. Your participation is not wanted there, apparently. So, now it's just press pieces. So, visit the Republic of the Rio Grande instead.
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