CONSIDER THIS: The Unfortunate Legacy of the Board President

Managing Editor

Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez

After listening to Wednesday evening’s special meeting of the San Benito CISD Board of Trustees, the legacy of Board President Yliana González became immediately apparent… and unfortunate.

During a discussion about the district’s on-site health clinic administrator, Richard Garza of ISD Managed Care Services, and a $315,000 lien the Internal Revenue Service placed on SBCISD payments owed to him, González was unfathomably critical of the San Benito News stories that brought the situation to light.

Specifically, González said, “I know that sometimes misinformation is given over to the San Benito News or another media source without first going through administration, so it’s portrayed in a very negative manner.”

The “misinformation” González is referring to originated from an email that SBCISD attorney Tony Torres sent to the board. The email confirmed an IRS lien in excess of $315,000 that was placed on future payments the district owed to Garza. Simply put, the information in our stories exists in the realm of reality; otherwise, what was the board discussing Wednesday if not these very matters? Why unanimously agree to provide Garza with a 60-day written termination notice, as the board did on Wednesday, if what was exposed supposedly derived from misinformation? Unless, of course, Torres misinformed the board since it was his account that served to corroborate our report.

“Although the concern is there,” González continued at Wednesday’s meeting, “I just want to make the community very much aware that the services being rendered to the employees have not been negatively impacted, even though that has at some point been portrayed that way in the newspaper, because that’s what happens when misinformation is given over to the media again without first going through administration, who has a clear picture of what’s really going on in the district.”

For nearly a month, Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ismael Cantu did not return our calls requesting comment, so it’s rather convenient for González to task the same administration that has not been accessible in recent weeks to be responsible for transparency. Consider that our sole reliance on this administration for corroboration indicates that our stories would be held hostage by Cantu, who has already developed a reputation for attempting to prevent controversial stories from being “leaked” to the media. Of course, this could have always been the case since González admittedly perceives our stories as “negative.” As a matter of fact, I’m certain that González and Cantu would have liked nothing more than to avert any media coverage of the clinic administrator’s predicament.

In response to González’ claims that the lien situation was “portrayed in a very negative manner,” I find it absurd and even comical to entertain the alternative: that the placing of an IRS lien in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars on an administrator that provides on-site health services for the largest employer in the city would somehow be perceived as a positive occurrence. We reported the stories objectively, but if the district resultantly experienced besmirchment it’s due to the unflattering nature of the situation at hand.

“Information is given over to the media when it shouldn’t be, and I understand that and it’s usually misled and misrepresented,” González further remarked while addressing Garza at the meeting. She was referring to Garza’s reluctance in providing documentation validating his attempts at resolve with the IRS, reasoning that his personal affairs would consequently be disclosed to the media. At one point, González added, “It (lien) may not be impacting the service that we’re providing the employees and their families, but it’s reflecting in a negative way on the district. It being in the newspaper and it being maybe exaggerated to some extent… it’s a bad reflection on the board.”

By this point, I deduced that González may not have bothered reading our stories, especially since they contained Torres’ verbatim quotes from his email correspondence with the board. Stated plainly, to identify our coverage as “exaggerated” is to call into question the very manner in which González was informed of the lien.

More importantly, González’ belief that information should not be shared with the media remains chief among my concerns.

In the hands of any local government’s administration, information subject to public record is already filtered by the time it reaches the media. When administrators are approached by a reporter requesting comment on a potentially controversial story, they usually opt to submit a prepared statement, in which names are omitted, originating circumstances are withheld and matters of concern that one would think warrant transparency and sincerity are vague in presentation. Judging by his previous attempts to control what we print, Cantu, I fear, may have gone a step further – such as claiming ignorance or expressing outright denial – if I wasn’t already armed with substantiating information in the lien story. In fact, his response was to not respond.

It then stands to reason that what González may actually intend to occur when preferring for administration to release information requested by the media is to withhold the data in question, which ultimately keeps our readers (a.k.a. the public) uninformed.

Still, do not mistake our insistence on reporting these types of stories for a bloodthirsty bias hellbent on the total destruction of the school district, or any government entity for that matter. I understand the propensity to uphold confidentiality in the midst of sensitive affairs. I also understand why it’s imperative for public servants to portray an image of success when faced with failure, of control when plagued by chaos in order to protect the institution they’re entrusted to serve. Such actions, however, must be conducted within reason. Being a leader, after all, is about more than exhibiting strength for the sake of strength; it’s conceding today what could be a victory tomorrow. For instance, if Cantu and González had responded to our calls and represented the district well during a time of peril, their plight would have been afforded equal coverage. The alternative, in González’ case, was to remain silent until the next meeting, where she complained about the sharing of the same “misinformation” that ironically allowed her to use sound judgment when holding Garza accountable for his business practices and the negative stigma the district has incurred as a result.

Bottom line: We at the News serve only to inform the public while González advocates for an environment that suppresses information and stifles public knowledge and awareness. Limiting the sources of our information to a singular administration reeks of police state tactics in which the press is controlled by an iron-fisted government. This is the legacy González has built during her tenure as board president – leadership that has created a toxic environment where teachers and non-teaching professionals refrain from publicly agreeing with me for fear of retaliation, where the administration favors clandestinity in lieu of veracity, and where there’s no room for freedom of the press.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, Ms. González, but it’s the News that decides how and when we run our stories. This is one group of people you cannot control.

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    • Big Griff on May 6, 2014 at 6:52 am
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    BLAME OBAMA….!!!!

    • Too little, too late on May 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm
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    Thank you michael. Great investigative reporting….

    • sadbuttrue on May 4, 2014 at 11:37 am
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    I hope that San Benito finally gets some elected officials in office and on the school board that actually care about the city and education of our students…… But I hate to say it, our voters tend to be very narrow minded and are not going to vote for the better candidate if he or she is not home grown. This is a great little city but it’s own is holding it down. Sad

    • RosalindaG.Garcia on May 4, 2014 at 10:11 am
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    To Paco 69:

    I was addressing my comments toward VMS and praising SBN. You don’t need to be feisty and rude.

    Thank you for reading my blog.

    • Riannefontanot on May 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm
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    Rust: Ascendant meat, however illusory our identities are, we craft those identities by making value judgements. Everybody judges all the time. Now, you got a problem with that, you’re living wrong.

    Read more:

    • Riannefontanot on May 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm
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    I agree with Wilma. Very well written editorial.

    • Do svidana SBCISD on May 3, 2014 at 8:10 pm
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    The President is doing a terrible job, it is criminal. By far the worst president in history of presidents!

    • Larry on May 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm
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    To paco69: “pretty pathetic”…At least Rosalinda uses her real name…. Now who’s pretty pathetic?

    • paco69 on May 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm
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    Rosalinda, your nothing but a puppet for Oscar and Anna!. Didn’t you immediately go outside during the last school board meeting? I wonder why? It also seemed the last time Chuy talked you weren’t there either. For a person that likes to run her mouth, you sure can hide just as fast. Can you do a better job as president?

    See that the problem with San Benito, instead of trying to fix the problems, you all are just worried about bashing each other. PRETTY PATHETIC!

    • RosalindaG.Garcia on May 3, 2014 at 10:03 am
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    To Paco 69:

    Do you notice that Valley Morning Star does not have any stories on what’s going on? And it is important information for the public to be informed like someone not paying their IRS taxes.

    Maybe the Valley Morning Star just gave up since they receive no cooperation from the board president or Superintendent? I am disappointed with VMS and will continue to renew by SB News subscription.

    Thank you Michael, Franco, rest of staff, from custodian all the way to editor for not giving up and not being biased.

    • houndfan88 on May 3, 2014 at 12:03 am
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    i think the whole city is fed up with the whole school board for making a mockery of san benito ..its time to clean house san benito and get rid of everyone who thinks they belong on the school board…especially the president and her lackeys….GO VOTE SAN BENITO…

    plus am i the only one here who thinks that mr. rodriguez of san benito news should one day run for school board in the future or maybe as least he has more brains and knowledge that everyone else up there put together…


      • Reform San Benito on May 3, 2014 at 10:56 am
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      You can still vote Rodriguez this election — JOE F. RODRIGUEZ!


      For a better San Benito!

    • WeThePeople on May 2, 2014 at 10:46 pm
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    Mr. Editor. Again, great work! Looks like this lady has no interest in transparency and open governance of the SBCISD. Sad. Let her continue to talk…she makes her own argument for getting the boot! Incompetence to the core.
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.- Abraham Lincoln

    • Dallas Ray on May 2, 2014 at 9:52 pm
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    Cool! I was not once upset about the result… but I was upset that she ran in the first place. I don’t care about politics. I do care about productivity and intelligence. If you knew us closely, you’d know these things. Oh and by the way, when I choose to communicate publicly, I do so *as me*. Thanks to Michael and the crew for supporting this mode. Your comment does nothing to promote Yliana or Choooooooooo-eeeeeeeee. It only befriends what many folks already know.

    • Reform San Benito on May 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm
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    Negative is a relative term, Yliana. When your chestnuts are in the fire, every whisper is perceived as a personal attack.. It’s tough when you know you’re messing up and you know everyone else knows, too, and they’re not pleased with you. Even an innocent news story reporting facts and occurrences is too much to bear. The shift in power will soon be forced upon you and you’re dreading it. The walls are closing in and you know it. You feel it and it’s real. Real scary…real freaky…to be stripped from power before your time. To exist in a political coma: Able to be cognizant but unable to control your extremities and the world around you any longer. Not much more negative than that.

    • paco69 on May 2, 2014 at 8:59 pm
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    Mr. Editor
    Why do you keep bashing the president? The last time I checked the board is a majority.I don’t see you bashing anyone else. Is it because the others don’t have the guts to comment. Most of them vote and only one takes the blame. But then, you are with the others as you have shown. Anna and Oscar are just there for “reasons unknown” and you don’t seem to bash them. She’s just cleaning up all the crap from the previous bunch!!

      • Dallas Ray on May 2, 2014 at 10:05 pm
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      This poor jotting makes no sense at all. This poster is undoubtedly uneducated. I’d relish the chance at a formal public debate with this no-mind. I love an easy win.

    1. June Aguilera, Anna Cruz, Fatima and Julian Huerta, Hector Leal and Oscar Medrano did not state that the San Benito News printed misinformation, exaggerated and portrayed stories negatively. Yliana Gonzalez did; thus the response. Also, the absurd idea that the San Benito News is “with” anybody is a canned response common among many who reject accountability.

    • paco69 on May 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm
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    OH Dallas , your still upset because she beat your wife… have her run again so she can lose again!!

      • Paty on May 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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      Hahahahahahaha! This is sooo funny! Is that all you have? You should be glad that someone would even take interest in trying to make a better San Benito. You’re so petty paco.

    • Hounder50 on May 2, 2014 at 7:27 pm
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    Give em hell Michael!!!!!

    • Old Maintenance worker on May 2, 2014 at 7:26 pm
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    Her legacy will also be the maintenance department micro-manager. She was always more concerned about maintenance than student achievement. She always wanted to protect her father and his friends. It was always known if you didn’t like something just go to her father and his daughter would put pressure on administration to change it. He and his friends were untouchable. What a great legacy Ms. President.

    • Wilma on May 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm
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    Very well said Mr. Rodriguez!


    • Dallas Ray on May 2, 2014 at 5:18 pm
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    If I had made as many stupid, foolish, and outright wrong moves as Yliana has, I would be permanently blushing from embarrassment. It’s my opinion that she’s both too dull and conceited to feel the shame that she ought to. I feel sorry for her.

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