CONSIDER THIS: The End of the Beginning

Managing Editor

Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez

Monday will mark the beginning of the end for at least 11 campaigns in San Benito, and with them the colorful signs that have dotted the Resaca City’s lush landscape over the last few months, the aggressiveness of block-walking hopefuls hoping to earn voters’ trust at their doorsteps and the opportunistic photo ops that the candidates indubitably seek.

That’s right, folks. Politicians are the original photobombers.

But what will we learn from this particularly-active election cycle that we didn’t already know? Before voters hit the polls on Monday, the first day of early voting in the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District and San Benito City Commission races, let’s recap much of what was discussed by the candidates when recently approached by the San Benito News for comment.

• Street repairs are still at the forefront of municipal concerns despite the obscene amount of money that has already been spent on repairs and the tax increase citizens incurred as a result – we knew that, so let’s move on to another matter.

• Business growth remains stymied due to San Benito’s quaint confines and its neighbors’ suffocating extraterritorial jurisdiction – gotcha… and just so we’re clear, we figured that one out when time began.

• Excessive spending continues to be a hallmark of school district leadership – no… really?

• Years of school board infighting has taken its toll on the community’s image and the spillover is beginning to adversely affect the district’s day-to-day operations and even the students’ academic performance – I won’t even dignify the palpable with a response; let’s just concede to the truth, shall we?

• Everything’s great with the city and school district – now our intelligence has been insulted.

Though imperative to address, it’s not enough that these matters have been acknowledged over the years. After all, candidates’ mere admission of existing problems doesn’t necessarily score them any points with the public. Consider the current state of discontent, in which the citizens of San Benito are no longer asking for answers but demanding them, and it becomes evident that public servants must evolve as the city’s infrastructure and school’s integrity continue to be compromised. Tantamount to current elected officials’ responsibility to grow in order to meet the ever-growing needs of a conflicted community, challengers vying for a seat at the decision makers’ proverbial table must also exhibit the ability to evolve as the problems that lie before them will surely do over time.

In the spirit of challenging local candidates, I presented two school district hopefuls who happened to be in the News office on Friday with the preliminary STAAR test results for fifth and eighth graders in San Benito. After observing that the passing percentages for a few campuses were in the 30s and 40s, one suggested solutions and refrained from attacking the current administration and school board – this despite being openly critical of them in the past – while the other sat with his colleague and exhibited genuine concern. The two discussed the scores at length and shared ideas on how to turn them around.

I must admit that I was impressed with their restraint. With two reporters in plain view, they could have easily seized the opportunity to publicly lambast their opponents – incumbents seeking reelection – by blaming them for leadership that led to substandard scores. And who would have blamed them? Instead, they opted for thoughtfulness and reflected on the situation at hand, and they did so privately. (Well, they tried. I’m a skilled eavesdropper.)

When Monday comes, it’ll be the public’s turn to reflect, and all that has plagued the city in recent years will be on the hearts and minds of voters who enter the polls. Still, I’m left with a sense of optimism that somehow, the controversies, scandals and outright strife San Benito has experienced in recent years may have actually served to push ourselves to be better; to put an end to what could have been the beginning of San Benito’s ruin.

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    • DelaSera on May 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you Mr. Rodriguez for this information. Who is the developer that caused the city to change the EJT?
    Years ago the School Board gave Harlingen the land around the golf course. SB seems to give in too easily.

    • Goldberg on May 1, 2014 at 12:11 pm
    • Reply

    Woopie woke up feisty this morning talking about dumps, rags and pussy.

    • Denny Crane, Jr. on May 1, 2014 at 9:32 am
    • Reply

    The newspaper is a rag? What newspaper are you talking about?

      • WeThePeople on May 1, 2014 at 10:20 am
      • Reply

      Woopie III obviously is talking about that ‘other’ periodical in Harlingen. You know…the ambulance chasers. Now that one is a RAG. LOL.

    • WeThePeople on May 1, 2014 at 9:31 am
    • Reply

    Politics corrupt?? There isn’t even written policy in City government for what ethical behavior should even look like! See here…

    I disagree on the SB News! They are one of the last hopes to expose the corruption in this dump.


  1. Mr. Editor, it is interesting that you mention “Extraterritorial Jurisdiction” in your commentary.


    However at the January 8, 2013 Regular Meeting of the City Commission, the current City Commission voted to “reduce” the ETJ from “two miles” to “one mile”. In essence, the City Commission ceded or gave up territory. I was present at this particular meeting and there was no discussion as to why the Subdivision Ordinance was being amended; Mayor Joe Hernandez asked for a motion to approve, the motion was made and the vote was unanimous. You can read the minutes of the January 8 City Commission Meeting; focus on agenda item 7.

    Why did the city amend or change the Subdivision Ordinance, you ask?

    This was done to accommodate a developer who in the middle of 2012 did not wish to abide to the requirements of the “Subdivision Ordinance”. He was developing some property outside the city limits but within the “two mile” ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) of the City of San Benito.

    Against the advice of the city staff professionals “not to approve” because it was in violation of the “Subdivision Ordinance”, the City Commission voted to approve the final plat. However, because of an absence within the City Commission, the vote was a tie and therefore, legally the City Commission had “thirty days” to bring the agenda item back for another vote to settle the tie.

    However, the City Commission opted not to include it on the agenda and reschedule it for another vote. Henceforth, the original motion with a tie vote was “automatically approved” after the thirty days expired. with no action by the City Commission.

    It was month’s later in January 8, 2013 that the City Commission decided to unanimously adopt Ordinance 2103-4 whereby reducing the ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) from “TWO miles” beyond the city limits or boundary to “ONE mile”.

    So, as you approach the voting booth and if you agree with this particular type of City Commission action, please don’t vote for me because “I stand in complete contrast and disagreement with this type of government”.

    City Ordinances should not be amended to accommodate any developer or party when it is the taxpayers who lose.

    Ironically, at the last few City Commission meetings during the last two months, a topic of discussion in Executive Session with the City Attorney has been “ETJ issues”.

    Joe F. Rodriguez

      • WeThePeople on April 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm
      • Reply

      As more progressive cities are trying to extend their ETJ, our elected officials are giving ours away to their favorite contractors!!
      WOW. Thank you Mr. Rodriguez! Perhaps the SB News will bring this story more to light? If this information doesn’t speak to the issues of compadrismo, misuse of power and corruption at the City, I don’t know what does! All the more reason to vote for change!

      • Reform San Benito on April 29, 2014 at 3:04 pm
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      Mr. Rodriguez, PLEASE submit this as a letter to the paper so voters w/o a computer can read how badly this city commission screwed SB and us citizens. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

      • Joe F. Rodriguez on May 1, 2014 at 9:57 am
      • Reply

      ***** CORRECTION to my Comment Above *****

      After checking the MINUTES (item #19) of the June 5, 2012 , my comment above that the City Commission motioned to APPROVE the P&Z recommendation to approve the preliminary plat against City Staff was INCORRECT.

      The actual motion made was to “APPROVE the recommendation of the City Staff to deny the variance requested.

      However, “the required four (4) votes to overturn Planning and Zoning approval of the Preliminary Plat were not met and the subdivision was automatically approved.

      The rest of my comment (ETJ changes) I believe are true as stated.

      My apologies for the ERROR.

        • WeThePeople on May 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm
        • Reply

        Doesn’t really matter since they are giving away the ETJ anyway! (which in the real world wouldn’t make a lot of sense particularly if it is to benefit a private party, friend or foe, instead of for the common good).

    • WeThePeople on April 29, 2014 at 12:14 am
    • Reply

    Write on, Mr. Editor!!

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