LETTERS: On Mercedes transparency, respecting the dead, border wall and property taxes

Texas has public information and public meeting laws to promote open and transparent government. A Rio Grande Valley city skirting these laws, however, is the City of Mercedes.

Public transparency in Mercedes

Texas has public information and public meeting laws to promote open and transparent government. A Rio Grande Valley city skirting these laws, however, is the City of Mercedes.

Recently the Mercedes City Commission removed its open forum portion of its public meetings without informing citizens who were at that meeting. In commenting to a reporter about this issue, an arrogant and showboating-city commissioner accused these citizens of being chest-pounding and indirectly smearing the city by constantly complaining that the world around them is crumpling.

These citizens just want an open and transparent city government, as required by state laws. They believe that there is no accountability with many of the city’s spending transactions that might be excessive, illegal or unnecessary.

For the last several months, a citizen requested public information dealing with a city commissioner who before being elected to this office in 2017 was sued as a private individual. Requested is information on whether the city commission paid this commissioner’s legal expenses associated with the lawsuit.

According to the city’s financial policy, a payment for materials or services requires the commission’s vote and approval during an open meeting. There is reason to believe that during a Dec. 5, 2017 meeting such a vote took place during executive session. If so, would it not be illegal?

Silvestre Moreno Jr., Mercedes

Respect our dead

What if trees were permitted to grow through your grandfather’s headstone and through his coffin? What if his cemetery encouraged visitors to play Pokemon Go over his grave? What if his headstone needed to be replaced and the cemetery refused to inscribe it with his identification? What if the cemetery outright lost his burial site?

There are the actions alleged to happen at the National Park Service in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

At Gettysburg, over 7,100 were killed and 10,800 missing. On Cemetery Hill, about 3,500 soldiers are buried from the Civil War with over 1,500 unknowns. Originally thought to be only Union soldiers, over time analysis has proven at least eight Confederates are buried there.

Several FOIA requests have been made over the years. But the National Park Service, which is entrusted with the care of these American dead, does not apparently know how many remains exist. Over 100 soldiers have been “lost!” Furthermore, they refuse to correct their desecrations, as noted above.

This treatment is uncaring and disrespectful. Only the Department of the Interior can be relied upon to fix this. The National Park Service seems not interested.

What if these remains were your great-grandfather’s?

Raffi E. Andonian, Santa Fe, New Mexico

‘Build the wall’

This is in response to Dr. Phillip Zwerling’s recent letter. The Rio Grande Valley has many conservative citizens who take offense to liberal ideology and so does my whole family. I truly don’t believe any of these liberals want to be great again. I would drop my subscription, but for the little news I do read. Build the wall soon, President Trump.

Louise Minton, Mission

Property tax solution

In regard to Dale Craymer’s Feb. 11 column concerning replacing property taxes with increased sales taxes, while I agree with him on disliking the property taxes in Hidalgo County and that our state has one of the highest property taxes in the nation, I have reservations with his implied conclusion that raising property taxes is the best way to fund established and new taxing districts. For quite some time, I have opposed creating a new taxing district for the proposed hospital district. I have opposed it not because I am against better health care for our citizens or the new UTRGV medical school, but simply because property owners cannot afford more taxes. I have offered the proposal of minimally raising the sales tax to pay for this. I have suggested this on several occasions, but have never heard a why-not. I am concerned that this article is the first salvo in an attempt to gain support for property taxpayers to pay for a new hospital (healthcare district). I would like nothing more than for our community to find a way to fund indigent healthcare and the new medical school, but it must not be totally on the backs of property owners as has been proposed and defeated twice already. Our elected representatives need to be more creative and start thinking outside the property tax “box” to get this done.

Hank Boardman, Mission