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Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 17, 2014 10:23
Re: Cortez to give major speech on Valley's economy
Dear Editor

April 9, 2014

Mr.Cortez is right to continue to put the data-based truth out there.

All-too-often the political leadership is given a dispensation to make data free pronouncements that are nothing but a fabrication of erroneously interpreted facts.

I recall hearing Congressman Hinojosa proclaim once at a conference that he was proud of the fact that over 80 percent of GearUP participants were enrolling in colleges and universities. That to me, based on my analysis of the data, was a bunch of hooey. I recall meeting with my former department chair at UTPA and surmising that barely 16 percent of GearUP participants ever made to a post-secondary educational institution. No one ever challenged the Congressman because he was, after all, the chair of the Higher Education Committee of the House.

The issues that Mr. Cortez presents require policy and programmatic responses from those agencies that are charged with bringing about change. The economic development corporations, colleges and universities, the county and municipal elected officials and the Lower Rio Grande Development Council need to develop an accountability and resource based strategy. The one in place, from Mr. Ken Jones, has no baselines or benchmarks that can be referenced before those agencies that were charged with making something happen. All I see is much posturing and aggrandizement by elected officials that are always been recognized for doing something that is commonplace and which does not hold water.

I am looking forward to reviewing the transcript of Mr. Cortez's comments and I hope that his admonishments do not fall on deaf ears.

Baltazar Acevedo y Arispe, Jr.

Waco, Texas.

Re: Wendy Davis meets with leading Valley women
Dear Editor

March 2, 2014

Thanks for the superb coverage of Wendy Davis' meetings with Rio Grande Valley women.

Wendy Davis, Leticia Van De Putte and many Rio Grande Valley women have educated me about the importance of women's and children's healthcare, along with issues of public education, veterans' care and a more creative economy.

I know these women, in most cases, are far ahead of Valley and Texas men in their concern for the overall betterment of a huge and growing Texas.

I hope millions of women, as well as men - and the latter need to put their false sense of male superiority aside - vote for Wendy Davis and Leticia Van De Putte come November.

If Wendy Davis and Leticia Van De Putte win the election, the changes in Texas will resound positively around the nation, and even the world.

Eugene "Gene' Novogrodsky

Brownsville, Texas

Re: Bishop Flores: Border wall is a 'psychological scar' for South Texas
Dear Editor,

November 29, 2013

Thanks for the great article. I was fortunate to witness some of the 1960s’ social justice improvements. Clearly visible then at the front of marches across South Texas to improve the quality of life of its residents were many Catholic priests. In truth, Mexican-descent Texans owe their socio-economic blessings to this type of activism.

Sadly, I also witnessed a deliberate roll back of that church-led activism beginning in the late 70’s. That unfortunate lull (caused primarily by the church’s joining the far-right in the issues of abortion and gay rights) lasted for too long. (Pope Francis has correctly noted that unfortunate path and has promised to change direction to devote precious time on human rights issues that matter such as this one.)

Regardless, I’m glad that the Bishop posse is engaged to achieve immigration reform and finally end the 1960s’ War on Poverty. By the way, San Antonio’s Bishop Siller is equally concerned and leading efforts to get the word out to the decision-makers to do the right thing for the right reasons.

Very Respectfully,

José Antonio “Joe” López

Re: Abbott: We have to address healthcare needs of South Texans
Dear Editor,

November 13, 2013

A joke, it must be, Republican candidate for Governor Greg Abbott's professed concern for South Texas' health needs. Abbott is part of the Republican Party/Tea Party ilk in Austin that refused to expand Medicaid and has done all that is possible to cripple the Affordable Care Act. South Texans are paying a huge price for this neglect.

Toss in the horrible restrictions on women's reproductive health and choice, with an unrelenting effort to kill Planned Parenthood, and one can feel Abbott's joke sadly grow.

Democratic candidate for Governor Wendy Davis doesn't offer such jokes. Her health concerns are believable!

Eugene 'Gene' Novogrodsky

Brownsville, Texas.

Re: Hinojosa: With hindsight, DPS would not have set up Valley checkpoints
Dear Editor,

October 19, 2013

What I take from the results of the ill-advised DPS valley checkpoints program is as follows:

(1) The absorption into the U.S. colossus in 1848 instantly turned South Texans (former citizens of Tamaulipas) into strangers in their own homeland. This “colonial” style of governing in Texas continues to this day. In my view, that’s why there is so much difference in social-economic-political factors north and south of Highway 59.

(2) There was a time when “Rinches” intimidation was common throughout South Texas. The horrid storm trooper methods were reluctantly accepted by Mexican-descent citizens as a method to cope. Make no mistake. The DPS “Oops” moment when they removed the checkpoints was due to the fact that Rio Grande Valley residents of all backgrounds are not going to take it anymore. That’s why it’s important for citizens to voice their displeasure when they see officials abusing their power.

Not that they were acceptable even then, but such treatment of loyal citizens belongs in the 1950s, not the 21st Century. Now, if State Senator Juan Hinojosa and other community leaders can help us stop and get rid of other Republican-owned Voter ID, redistricting, and racial profiling, South Texas Mexican-descent citizens can begin to enjoy everyday life without officially-sanctioned intimidation.

José Antonio “Joe” López

Universal City, Texas.

Re: Why did anybody in the Valley speak up against Ted Cruz
Dear Editor,

October 19, 2013

What leaders are you talking about in the Rio Grande Valley? There are none. All who were there when Cruz spoke were there to find out how they were going to fill their pockets.

Kiko Salazar

Via Email

Re: Why didn't anybody in the Valley speak up against Ted Cruz
Dear Editor,

October 14, 2013

What made anybody in The Rio Grande Valley, besides Aaron Peña, think that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who knows NOTHING about the economic or health situation of our people, would do anything to alleviate the dire situation? I guess everybody in The Valley was fooled by the Hispanic name. This guy is a “showman” for the rich, who cannot be trusted, and nothing more.

Placido Salazar

San Antonio, Texas

Re: López: Tejano history barely dodged the SB 1128 bullet
Dear Editor,

July 29, 2013

Mr. López kept referring to us as "Spanish Mexican." That's one of the problems right there. We are not Spanish, we are not European, foreigners, or immigrants.

When the word "Mestizo" was first coined it was referring to people who were 98 percent Indigenous and two percent Spanish. Mexican Americans should embrace the factual truth that we are also Native Americans and inherently belong to this land.

I am very displeased that the Tejano Monument on the Capitol grounds has a Spaniard looking over the land and people he will conquer for his King! I also don't like it when the word "Hispanic" is used to identify us!

Anita Quintanilla

Austin, Texas.

Re: Vela wins praise for opposing 'border surge' legislation
Dear Editor,

July 3, 2013

I just read your article concerning Congressman Vela's actions and feel like I've died and gone to Valhalla where real warriors with courage abound. I only wish Jay (Johnson-Castro) was here to read that. Thank you very much for a wonderful 4th of July. I will toast Congressman Vela, a real American.

John Neck

Brownsville, Texas

Re: Treviño: I will pray for Wendy Davis
Dear Editor,

July 2, 2013

'Stand up. Be Counted. No Matter What!'

That is what I did yesterday. Standing up for Women’s Rights in Texas. The amazing feat by Sen. Wendy Davis last week, as well as Monday’s rally in Austin, and the subsequent extreme outpouring of support, prompted us to visit our state Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.’s district office. We wanted to show our solidarity with these women, and made our concerns clear: “Senator, with all due respect to your personal religious beliefs, we, as your constituents, are counting on you to represent us fairly. After all, it is the Voters who elected you, not the Church!”

To their credit, state Reps. Lucio III and Oliveira voted against the devastating bills now before the legislature (SB5 and HB16, newly named SB9 and HB2), which infringe on womens' constitutional rights. These bills, if enacted, will change the time at which a woman can legally obtain an abortion from 24 to 20 weeks; this provision is in violation of federal law. In addition, the bills restrict the dispensing of the abortion pill, impose the requirement of physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30 miles radius, and, most concerning, requires clinics to upgrade their facilities to ambulatory surgical centers, meaning only fiv of the 42 clinics statewide currently can meet this standard. These restrictions will be devastating to women’s health in Texas; therefore, we urgently need all of our representatives to stand up for the majority of their constituents!

'Stand up. Be Counted. No Matter What!' That’s what I’m doing today, by writing this letter.

Madeleine Sandefur

Laguna Vista, TX

Re: Treviño: I will pray for Wendy Davis
Dear Editor,

July 1, 2013

Pray on, Ms. Ramona Treviño, for Texas State Senator Wendy Davis.

She'll take the prayers, and then continue to work for safe and feasible abortion for all Texas women, while also supporting comprehensive health care for these women, thus reducing the need for abortion.

By the way, deep South Texas Representatives René Oliveira and Eddie Lucio, III, certainly not in favor of abortion (who is?) voted against the restrictive bill - thus backing Senator Davis.

Thanks Representatives Oliveira and Lucio for Texas women's right to choose; the bill if passed in this special session will make it virtually impossible for a poor and middle class Texas woman to obtain an abortion.

State Senator Eddie Lucio, in favor of the bill, has listened to opponents, and his very polite office staff in Brownsville and Austin have, too.

Thanks for the listening, Senator, but no thanks on the vote!

I hope the Senator withdraws his support of the bill, and dramatically joins in an effort to create an excellent health care system for all Texans.

What a great surprise that would be: very wealthy Texas becoming the United States leader in healthcare, and also accepting federal Medicaid funds, plus restoring funding to Planned Parenthood.

I, too, pray, Ms. Treviño, but for different results than yours!

Eugene "Gene" Novogrodsky

Brownsville, Texas

Re: Valley mayor says he will share a stage with Sen. Ted Cruz
Dear Editor,

June 19, 2013

Thank you Mr. Taylor and the Rio Grande Guardian for the 'Valley mayor says he’ll share a stage with Ted Cruz' article. Mayor Villarreal’s response to Senator Cruz’ staff’s request is typical of South Texas hospitality. Having met the Mayor personally during one of my early Texas history presentations at the RGC Library, I have no doubt of his cordiality, open mind, and his sincerity in “getting things done” for his constituents.

My unsolicited advice to my fellow Mexican-descent Mayor Villarreal is simply this. Sir, understand who you are dealing with. It is obvious that the Cruz staff is only interested in a photo-op and here’s why: (l) Senator Cruz said that he was going to Washington DC to dismantle it. (2) He does not believe in the 50-United States national framework, i.e., Medicare, Social Security, public education (a vital institution in the RGV), etc. (3) Based on his non-performance since he got there, he’s still on that path. (4) As a Tea Party politician, Senator Cruz is not interested in helping, but in obstructing. And (5) Since he is not a Texas native, he is clueless as to why Immigration Reform is crucial to the needs of South Texas families.

The truth is that many RGV residents still need a helping hand to escape their suffering cycle of despair. Immigration Reform is part of that equation. Clearly, Senator Cruz does not support that goal. Based on his very well-known arrogance, neither does he appear interested in being recruited to help reach it. Thank you.

Very Respectfully,

José Antonio López

San Antonio, Texas

Re: Sad Anniversary
Dear Editor,

June 18, 2013

Anniversaries can be wonderful times of celebrating – births, marriages, years of employment. They can also be times of sad remembering - deaths of family members, friends, a vibrant parish.

June 18 marks the 10th anniversary of one such sad event – the destruction of Holy Spirit parish in McAllen. On that day, under the former bishop’s order, staff were fired, locks changed, and armed guards took up positions. (Monitor stories of June 2003 reported on the events for two weeks.)

Through a court order, staff were reinstated. It became, however, a hostile work environment, bent on forcing a number of them to quit under a new pastor put in place for just that purpose. I, in fact, was “fired” from my volunteer position as coordinator of the peace and justice committee.

The parish had been so vibrant, so life-giving, so justice-oriented. For many, none of those qualities can be found there anymore.

The saddest thing of all, and which should lay heavily on the shoulders of the former bishop and the current pastor, is the number of people who have left the church. These people have left not only the parish, but the Catholic church as well. Children and adults who witnessed and were subjected to this hostile take over have suffered. Those who were children at the time cannot understand why a bishop, a priest, would do this. Their faith has been shaken to the core, and a bishop and a priest are responsible.

Fortunately, however, many feel the demise of their parish has helped them see themselves as church, as Vatican II taught. Although the event of ten years ago marked the death of a vibrant parish, new life has sprung up from the ashes of people’s pain and helped them find new life beyond the confines of a church building and an authoritarian hierarchy.

Sister Moira Kenny

McAllen, Texas

Re: Years and Confusion

Dear Editor,

March 3, 2013

I flip the calendar; the year is 2013, the month March.

February was Black History Month, but the efforts to overturn the Voting Rights Act took me back to the 1950s, even the years before and after the Civil War. Will the Supreme Court agree that there is no need for the act, thus giving many states, including Texas, the chance to dilute black and Hispanic votes via reactionary redistricting and various voting obstacles?

What a sad end to 2013's Black History Month.

March. Women's History Month, with Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature refusing to accept federal health funds - funds that our taxes created - along with their endless attacks on Planned Parenthood, which, by the way, is the best program to continue if one wishes to minimize the need for abortion. So here is 2013, and for Texas women it might as well be the 1950s, and even a century before.

Looking ahead, September will be Hispanic Culture Month, and what kind of racist state and federal laws will start and end that month?

Others might casually move from month to month, with scant concern for their designation. I can't. I know too much history.

It is distressing to see the Supreme Court, many states and the federal government eroding in various ways human rights, rights that belong to all citizens, as well as immigrants, regardless of their legal status.

Eugene 'Gene' Novogrodsky
Brownsville, Texas

Re: Lucio: My bills will help students struggling in poor-performing schools

Dear Editor,

March 2, 2013

The name "vouchers" has been made the derogatory "curse-word" of those that live off of school tax dollars.

The most descriptive name is "parental-choice scholarships". They are scholarships that are designed to give parents a choice of which school they want their child to attend.

Stated this way, what parent would not want choices of which school they send their child to?

Bob Schoolfield
Texans for Parental Choice in Education

Re: Canseco refuses to accept CD 23 defeat

Dear Editor,

November 8, 2012

What’s with Quick Canseco not wanting to accept defeat gracefully? It’s not like it was a close race, nor is it like he should feel that he will be missed by the majority of working class residents of District 23, who voted to kick him out. Please, Quico – do not let the door hit you on the way out.

Placido Salazar, USAF Retired Vietnam Veteran

San Antonio, Texas

Re: County judges: Unity is key in push to get I-69 designation

Dear Editor,

August 11, 2012

As one who travels the Rio Grande Valley regularly, the absence of a major interstate access to Brownsville has stood out like the proverbial sore thumb for what seems forever. I agree with Judge Garcia and I encourage him to keep at it. As an aside, in my view each of the roads he mentions should have been upgraded to interstates in their own right years ago.

As I briefly mentioned in my Open Letter to Ted Cruz, the economic difference between North and South of Hiway 59 is practically like night and day. It is time that Texas and the U.S. spend some time in the only metropolitan area in the nation that official policies have generally and consistently ignored.

That attitude is also the reason why the Rio Grande Valley does not have its own full-service Veterans Hospital. An alliance of local leaders and officials is a must to demand only fairness for Valley residents.

Thank you,

José Antonio “Joe” López
San Antonio, Texas 

Re: Attorney gives his explanation for lawmaker's indictment

Dear Editor,

July 3, 2012

The recent indictment of Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez smells of "politica." Why would Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra allow the grand jury to be used in this manner? It is political. I guess its true what they say that a grand jury can indict a turnip if it does not bleed water. Mando Martinez has been a very strong advocate of Veterans issues. He has gone to bat for us on several issues. In the state legislature, he is the one to go to.

This matter should have been taken care between attorneys representing both parties and if the issue was not resolved, a case should have been filed in a civil court, not a criminal court. The charge alone whether warranted or not, puts our State Repesentative in a negative public light.

Representative Martinez will survive this bad publicity. We need Mando in Austin. 

Arturo 'Treto' Garza
Vietnam War veteran
Harlingen, Texas

Re: Garza: Harlingen must do more to secure VA hospital

Dear Editor,

July 2, 2012

My Dear Brother Marine Treto,

I have read the information on the Harlingen's VA Health Care System in your area of the Texas Valley.

I still remember when Lazaro O. Camarillo III and I visited Your Veterans Movement for a Full VA Hospital in Harlingen, back in 2010.

You should be commended for all your time and relentless effort to bring this important and necessary VA Hospital to your area.

You are doing a great job! Keep it up and never give up.

Here in Victoria, Texas, the VA Clinic lease will expire at the end of July and the VA has selected a place which is not to far from the present sight of the existing VA Clinic.

The VA Clinic provides Health Care for veterans in Victoria as well as Veterans that reside in the eight surrounding counties.

As Volunteer Chapter Service Officers, we have moved to the Texas Workforce Solutions building. This entity has provided us with an Office space, free of charge so we can continue our quest in helping Veterans and their families in filing the necessary VA Forms for VA Benefits which they have earned through Their Honorable Military Service.

I thank you, and I wish you GOD's Speed.


Martin Garcia, Cmdt
MCLeague, Jack Ringel Det # 540
Victoria, Texas
Kilo Co. 3/4 3rd MarDiv. 67/68

Re: How come the VA continues to thwart our elected officials?

Dear Editor,

June 13, 2012

I have not forgotten our previous discussion regarding establishment of a full service VA facility in the Valley. I agree with your article in the sense that many candidates for elected office, particularly for congressional seats, make empty promises that they cannot or will not deliver on.

I believe we took care of that matter here in El Paso. I am hopeful that the message goes beyond West Texas.

Although we have an independent V.A. Clinic here in El Paso, we have also been knocking on the congressman's door to move to establish a full-service health care facility here as well. The local congressman did not see this as a priority until he got in trouble seeking his 8th term. His response to your requests for support fell on deaf ears, as did many of our requests! We decided we had heard enough empty talk with little action!

We voted for a change and are more hopeful that the incoming congressional representative will be more responsive and attentive to our Veterans' needs. We are establishing alliances now to ensure that a full-service VA health care facility is a top priority item in our next congressional representative's agenda. The VA will not do it on its own. This objective requires a strong congressional representative to carry the ball and lead the effort on our behalf. Without that leadership, it will not happen! After all, if our congressional representative does not lead, there is no incentive for others to follow!

We have reactivated the American GI Forum here also. One of our primary objectives is the establishment of a full service VA health care facility. As commander of our local chapter, I will lead our forum to ensure that this objective stays alive in the next congressional representative's agenda from day one!

I look forward to sharing communications with you on how our communities can help each other in our "Common Cause."


Carlos Rivera, Commander
American GI Forum - Paso del Norte

Re: TCCRI cites alleged Valley Medicaid fraud in letter to Suehs, Wilson

Dear Editor,

May 27, 2012

Raul de la Cruz's story on fraud is well recieved. But, we must take this issue further. We respectfully request that fraud also be examined into the new players in the Medicaid program, the MCOs and PBMs. These companies have a long and storied history of fraud, deception and misappropriation of public funds. Fraud happens everywhere, not just in South Texas and not just by providers. These "new players" have and do exhibit the type of fraud we all want stopped.

Nario Rene Cantu, R.Ph.
Cantu's Pharmacy
504 S. Closner Blvd.
Edinburg, Texas 78539

Re: TAB weighs in on medical transportation row

Dear Editor,

May 1, 2012

Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond is looking at coins not people. Since it is obvious he does not require HHSC services for medical care he should adequately discuss his concerns with the people who provided excellent care to HHSC beneficiaries until actions he lauds were implemented. His comparing the fraud with transportation services is absurd.

These regulations are not applying to other HHSC concerns such as child neglect. If parents are not inclined to obtain the treatment provided by their physician they should be reported to the authorities for child neglect. It is inconceivable to me how the HHSC can be so wrapped up in cost control and so lax in child welfare. I chaired the Cameron County Child Welfare Board for several years I would without doubt report this type of neglect to the appropriate authorities. The physicians as well should do the same. Your reporter, Mr. de la Cruz, may want to interview members of the State's Child Welfare representatives and author an article disussing their findings.

I applaud Mr de la Cruz for his article featuring U.S. Representative Hinojosa. Conversely, I am disappointed in his article giving Mr. Hammond an audience discussing his misguided views.

Robert Bennett
(via email)

Re: Sister Marian Strohmeyer passes away

Dear Editor,

April 20, 2012

I am so saddened at hearing of the passing of Sister Marian. She was one of the most inspirational women I have ever met. She  was a part of my life when we were all working as advocates for Central American refugees and working in response to Valleyites who were suffering from AIDS and had no one to turn to in their darkest hours. Then, of course, there is her legacy of Comfort House.

A star was born, which lit up the lives of countless, whose suffering went unnoticed or scorned. That light may be dimmed on this earth but her legacy will be an eternal light for those of conscience to follow. Good night, dear Sister, thank you for leading the way, for some us to follow in your wake.

Linda Yañez
Edinburg, Texas

Re: Lawsuit aims to allow voters to register on the same day as the election

Dear Editor,

April 18, 2012

Mr. Juan Angel Guerra deserves praise for his lawsuit. I would strongly support the lawsuit that would allow voters to register and to vote on the same day. The American GI Forum is uniquely recognized as the organization which fought strongly to eliminate the infamous Poll Tax, which for so long disenfranchised poor people who could either not afford the fee, or if the boss paid the fee, then the worker had to vote as instructed by the boss.

It seems that every time we turn around, there is an effort by certain elements to keep our voters away from the polls, whether through redistricting, Voter ID, etc.

If a U.S. citizen qualifies to register 30 days before the election date, what could possibly change his/her status or eligibility to register and to vote, on the same day? Too many of our men and women in the military have been deployed to other countries, to establish democracy, with the right for those citizens to vote and several paid the ultimate sacrifice or had their lives altered forever. So why do we, as American citizens in our own country, have to jump over politically-motivated hurdles, to exercise our right – and our obligation to cast our vote?

Josemaria Vasquez, American by birth Veteran by choice
State Vice Commander
Dr. Hector P. Garcia American GI Forum Org of TX

Re: Martinez thanks Peña for his help with campaign

Dear Editor,

April 11, 2012

I don't think Ms. Martinez does herself any favors by allowing her political consultant to make divisive statements like the one he made in this article. Mr. Peña is engaging in the same old tired "us vs. them" tactic, pitting his self-righteous description of Republicans as pro-life, pro-family and religious against Democrats as pro-LGBT. As a gay man, I find this extremely offensive. Ms. Martinez should ask Mr. Pena to apologize or fire him as her consultant. Also, I hope you will be "fair and balanced" by asking for a comment from Eli Olivarez, Nathan Schwarz and Dolly Elizondo on what Mr. Pena said.

Daniel Graney
San Antonio, Texas

(Editor's Note: Yes, Mr. Graney, we are going to ask Mr. Schwarz and Mr. Olivarez if they wish to respond to the comments made.)

Re: Sepulveda named Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority executive director

Dear Editor,

February 25, 2012

Mr. Pete Sepulveda, man of many hats, will now concentrate on the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, as its executive director.

Congratulations. He very well knows the county's ins and outs.

And now it is time for him to "direct" the CCRMA to stop its desire to build the West Loop Toll Road/Parkway.

Local control - and one hears about it daily - sometimes can be unfair and immoral as with communities' anti-immigration laws.

But in the case of the West Loop Toll Road/Parkway local control is for the good, as Brownsville officials and citizens do not want the road; they have another vision for the eight-miles of railroad track once it is abandoned: a hiking, walking, biking, jogging and nature swath.

Mr. Sepulveda should heed the city, stop the road and move on to other projects he said he wishes to accomplish, ones that do not divide neighborhoods.

Cameron County officials, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, South Texas state and federal elected officials and the Texas Department of Transportation should join with Brownsville as it begins to enact its ambitious environmental aims that will also economically benefit hundreds of thousands in Deep South Texas.

Now a plea: Mr. Sepulveda please take the lead in your new post, and support the city's move towards wise planning and creative local control.

Support that concept, and thus take a huge step on behalf of the city's (and yes the rest of the county's) future, not one of more carbon monoxide, reduced health potential and millions in debt.

Eugene "Gene" Novogrodsky
Brownsville, Texas