Over the past few days, local news outlets have reported on issues revolving around the actions of several political entities from the city of Weslaco, and their apparent connections to Rio Grande City.
In one report, newspaper reporter Elizabeth Findell writes about about a 16 page publication entitled ‘The Truth; Answers that Flow’, that circulated around Weslaco just days before early voting began which compares Weslaco’s Water Treatment Plant to Rio Grande City’s Water Treatment Plant. The publication mentions Weslaco Commissioners John Cuellar, Jerry Tafolla, Joe Martinez, Lupe Rivera and David Fox, but excludes Commissioner Olga Noriega and only references former Mayor Miguel Wise. Although the publication features the city’s official logo, and the City’s official website, City manager Leo Olivares (former Rio Grande City, city manager) claims the City did not pay for the publication’s production, but admits city staff helped in providing information for it.
An uncredited editorial printed in a Valley publication questions whether taxpayer money was used to pay for the publication which it describes as ‘campaign material’. “It sure reads like campaign fodder,” states the editorial, “But, if so, we don’t understand why the city of Weslaco’s website address is featured prominently on nearly every page, and… [that it does not include] Commissioner Olga Noriega, who is backing the opponents to incumbent commissioners Lupe Rivera and Joe Martinez, also gives us pause… Until more details about who paid for this publication are forthcoming, it is hard to determine if taxpayer money was involved. And taxpayers have a right to know such information.”.
Findell’s report highlights the publication was produced by the public relations firm Indigo Connections, and declares no one from the firm has yet to confirm who paid for the production of the 16 page tabloid.
In another report, one Valley publication describes a lawsuit recently filed by DKIII Hornback Enterprises who, in an amended complaint, insists Weslaco Commissioner Jerry Tafolla offered then-Economic Development Corp. board Director David Suarez a bribe to kill a contract with DKIII. The suit suggests Weslaco commissioners didn’t want the EDC hiring DKIII to build an event center and offered the payment for Suarez to bring in a contractor allied with the commission majority. The complaint says the commissioners have instead favored contractors recommended by Rio Grande City’s Leo Lopez. Tafolla denied the bribe ever occurred, and Mayor Pro Tem John Cuellar questions the timing of the claim; days prior to upcoming elections”.