By Joe F. Rodriguez
Special to the News
I was, as the saying goes, “on the fence” in regards to whether to officially file for a City Commissioner ballot position to serve on the City Commission.
When I opt to write an OP ED on the San Benito News, it is to make the citizens aware of what I believe is important & relevant to them as stakeholders. This OP ED is a “case in point”.
All doubts about filing for the upcoming City Election came crumbling down after what transpired at the Regular City Commission Meeting on Feb 7, 2017. I have never seen such an egregious and ostentatious case of “self-aggrandizing” and audaciousness. The City Commission’s majority decision on Agenda Item 11 aroused a certain sense of indignation within me.
The agenda item read as follows:
“Consideration and possible action on the submission of a nominee from the City of San Benito to be considered for the 2017 Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame Induction Ceremonies at the Hidalgo Border Fest.
RATIONALE (as submitted to the full City Commission for the nomination):
“ The Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame at the State Farm Arena was created as part of the 2005 Borderfest “A Salute to the Rio Grande Valley”. Representatives from the local libraries, arts, organizations, media journalists and other citizens with an informed understanding of the Rio Grande Valley cultural heritage will serve on the commission for the selection of the inductees.
The walk celebrates the “LIFE, ACHIEVEMENTS and SIGNIFICANT CIVIC CONTRIBUTIONS” of outstanding men and women to communities in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas. “
Previous year’s nominees beginning with the most recent in 2016 have been: Lionel C. Betancourt, Antonio Puentes Gonzales, Martha Ann McClain, Charlie & Bertha Wilson, Victor Garza, Manuel Lara, Luipta Passement, Joe Hodges Hernandez, Mark Moody, San Benito Montalvo, and Cesar Gonzalez.
IMHO, the fair process for selecting a nominee for this honor should mirror the selection process of applicants for a Professional Services position with the City of San Benito. Each applicant submits an RFQ outlining their qualifications meriting their selection and ultimately their hiring.
In this particular nominating process, each City Commission member should have been given the opportunity or option to present a nominee and the nominee’s “achievements and significant civic contributions“. Thereafter, the Mayor should have opened the floor for nominations.
The nominees that were to be submitted were as follows: (FYI……. I have added the accompanying “ACHIEVEMENTS and SIGNIFICANT CIVIC CONTRIBUTIONS” which I sourced from reports from the “Valley Morning Star and the ” San Benito News”)
Mr. Rogelio Nuñez was the co-founder of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito and was the former Executive Director of Proyecto Libertad in Harlingen. Mr. Nuñez was recognized along with co-founders of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center (NMCAC) in San Benito, Mr. David A. Garza, and Mr. Ramón de León, as the “2013 San Benito News Citizens of the Year“. Mr. Nuñez was also one of four recipients of the“2014 Freddy Fender Humanitarian Awards”.
La Casa de Proyecto Libertad is a non-profit organization whose primary mission or goal is to promote the advancement and protection of immigrants fleeing oppressive governments and dire conditions. Thousands of immigrants have passed through their doors asking and receiving aid, legal and otherwise. When the need arose, the organization expanded their services to handle cases of immigrant abuse by so-called coyotes, employers, law enforcement agencies, or domestic abuse. Although the organization received some negative reaction from some members of the community, Mr. Nuñez and his organization remain steadfast in their endeavor to assist those less fortunate who were just looking for a better life for their families.
Mr. Rogelio Nuñez is also widely recognized for his endless contribution and dedication to the field of education. He was a research assistant and instructor at Texas A&I University, University of Texas Pan-American, and UT at Austin. He has testified before congressional committees on the immigration crisis and the subject of underage and unaccompanied young immigrants. He once told me that when he retired, his wish was to write a book. I am hoping he does.
Dr. Enriqueta Lopez Ramos, Phd. Anthropology:
Dr. Enriqueta Ramos is a retired University professor who helped coordinate the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations at the NMCAC in 2015. She is known as an upstanding, outspoken, well-educated resident of San Benito and a board member of the ” San Benito Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitor’s Bureau”. She is also active in the Writer’s Forum at the NMCAC.
Dr. Ramos, in conjunction with her husband and several other retired educators, most recent valuable & significant contribution to the City of San Benito is the founding of a program providing quality tutors, classes in Math, Reading, English, Science, Spanish, and Writing. And it is all free at the San Benito Public Library.
Best of all, Dr. Enriqueta Lopez Ramos is a “True Chicana” in “heart and soul”.
Commissioner Steve Rodriguez:
Steve Rodriguez has been a City Commissioner for the last 1 ½ years.
Following is a recap of what actually transpired and motivated me to say “Seriously?” .
As soon as Mayor Celeste Sanchez finished reading agenda Item #11, City Commissioner Tony Gonzalez immediately motioned to name Commissioner Steve Rodriguez as the nominee. Commissioner Steve Rodriguez seconded the motion.
Commissioner Rene Villafranco then nominated Dr. Enriqueta Ramos as a nominee. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Joe D. Gonzalez. There was no discussion on the merits of each nominee and the vote was 3 for and 2 against the nominee selected.
If you want the rest of the story, CLICK HERE (if you are reading online) or “Copy & Paste” to your browser the following tinyurl link >>>>> http://tinyurl.com/zxyreah <<<<<< and CLICK on AGENDA ITEM 11.
My sources informed me that Commissioner Joe D. Gonzalez intended to nominate Rogelio Nuñez as a nominee. However, he seemed stunned by Commissioner Tony Gonzalez motion to nominate a sitting City Commissioner as a nominee. Although not legally required, IMHO, Commissioner Steve Rodriguez, being the nominee, should have recused himself or abstain from voting.
My personal vote would have been for Mr. Rogelio Nuñez who, besides Freddy Fender, has brought more world-wide recognition than anybody else to the City of San Benito and Texas with the Freddy Fender Museum and the annual Conjunto Festival which just celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
It is what it is; but “It doesn’t have to be that way!” This will be my last OP ED until after the election on May 6. The San Benito News welcomes and encourages anyone to voice your opinion and be heard. Everyone’s opinion matters. It is what makes a Democracy flourish.
I remain “Joe F. Rodriguez” and solely responsible for this commentary!