By J. NOEL ESPINOZA
Special to the NEWS
San Benito Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees President Michael Vargas appeared with a duo of lawyers to his Oct. 31 petition hearing seeking his removal from office.
The petition was filed by concerned San Benito citizens who believe Vargas should be removed from the school board after his July 5 arrest for driving while intoxicated in Harlingen.
The hearing was presided by Retired Judge Manuel Bañales at 107th District Court in Brownsville while the lawyers representing the board president were State Representative Alex Dominguez, a former Cameron County commissioner, and Jose Caso, a lawyer who has been representing Brighton Group, the company assigned by the SBCISD school board to oversee the construction of three major projects of a $40 million bond approved by voters last year.
“(Jose) Caso representing Vargas seems like a conflict of interest because the company Brighton is managing our building projects, $40 million worth,” said Janie Lopez, one of the San Benito residents who filed the petition to remove Vargas. “It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know too much about lawyer ethics, but it doesn’t seem right.”
On Monday, Palacios said Caso has not been working for Brighton the past two months.
“He (Caso) doesn’t work for us,” Palacios said. “He formed his own law office and it’s no longer working for Brighton.”
When asked whether Caso representing Vargas will raise any issues after working for Brighton, Palacios said it shouldn’t.
“It’s not weird,” Palacios said. “He’s a licensed attorney and he can take any clients he sees fit. It has nothing to do with me or Brighton Group.”
Palacios added that he has zero business relationship with Caso. Later in the phone conversation, Palacios added that he will sue if the NEWS indicated that Caso works for Brighton.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the Nov. 8-14, 2019 issue of the NEWS.