EDINBURG, RGV – State Representative Terry Canales was awarded the Texas Press Association trophy for “Transparency in Government” on Friday at City Hall, Edinburg.

The award was presented by Donnis Baggett, executive vice president of the TPA.

Donnis Baguette

Canales, who represents District 40 in the heart of Hidalgo County, was accompanied by his spouse, Erica Canales. He noted in his acceptance speech that TPA, established 1880, is one of the oldest press associations in the U.S.

The award was merited, according to Baggett, because Canales provided diligent work in pressing for more and greater transparency in government at local, state, and national levels. Among other measures, he introduced and passed House Bill 214, requiring the televising of Supreme Court proceedings.

Canales stressed the importance of full disclosure, noting how important it is for citizens to know what their government is doing and “how their taxes are spent.” Edinburg City Councilmen David Torres and Gilbert Enriquez joined Mayor Richard Molina in congratulating Canales. They voiced appreciation for Canales’ work on behalf of the city and the wider community.

In his remarks, Canales acknowledged he was “a little choked up” because the award meant a lot to him and because the issue meant a lot to him.

Here are most of Rep. Canales’ remarks:

“The government exists for the people and by the people. The government doesn’t get to decide what is good for us to know and what isn’t good for us to know. Yet the obfuscation is deafening. The malady is pervasive. But the silence that reverberates within us shows discord and distrust in the government that we created.

“I am greatly honored to receive this award from an organization that I deeply admire. But the very idea that we’ve got to single out a legislator for an award to fight for transparency shows how pervasive the problem is. Transparency should be inherent. We shouldn’t have to give this award. Transparency is the cornerstone of who we are.

“Our forefathers had deep rooted beliefs in a strong free press so much that Thomas Jefferson said that if it was left to him to decide whether we should have a government without a free press or a free press without a government, he would gladly choose the latter.

“During my time in the legislature I have fought tirelessly because I believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant for corruption. The public has a right to know what their local, state and federal governments are doing with their tax dollars. Since being elected I have co-authored legislation and authored legislation for recorded meetings, city councils, governments, community colleges, across the state of Texas, including some of the highest courts.

“I know the people of Texas have an inalienable right to know what their government is doing. The basic tenet of a democracy is transparency. The truth never damages a cause that is just. If the public cannot find out what their government is up to, they have no way to hold them accountable. Government exists to serve the people – all of them.

“Information on how our officials conduct the public’s business and spend our tax money must be readily available in a manner our citizens can easily access and understand.

“I would like to close with a quote from Patrick Henry, one of our founding fathers, who said: ‘The liberties of a people never were nor ever will be secure when the transactions of their government may be concealed from them.’

“I am deeply honored. It means a great deal to me. It means a great deal to my family. And I want to thank the Texas Press Association and let them know I will partner in fighting with you until my last day in the Legislature. To make sure the public has a right to know how, what, where and when, this government is doing.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows, from left to right, Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, Erica Canales, state Rep. Terry Canales, Mario Lizcano, director of corporate affairs for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, and Donnis Baggett, executive vice president of the Texas Press Association.