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MEDA rebuffs city takeover of board

MEDAlogo_TNEditor’s note: For more news about the standoff between MEDA and the Mission City Council, see the web-only story about last Thursday’s MEDA meeting. Look for the headline “MEDA board tells council, ‘slow down’” at www.progresstimes.net.

After rebuffing the Mission City Council’s push to replace their entire board of directors with a council-appointed board, MEDA (Mission Economic Development Authority) accepted the resignations of seven board members Tuesday evening.

The action was part of a plan to downsize the board and presumably begin a winding down of MEDA operations before turning over duties of the economic development authority to MEDC (Mission Economic Development Corporation).

MEDA board member Geoff Hall said Wednesday, “There was a directive by the council to lower the number of board members; we’re trying to be responsive to that.”

The city wants to appoint the seven council-appointed MEDC board members to the MEDA board, wresting control of the not-for-profit corporation, which has been the official economic development arm for the city since 1989.

While MEDA board members have said they intend to comply with the city council’s wishes to turn over MEDA’s economic development activities to MEDC, they feel the changes are coming too quickly. They want time to make sure there is a plan in place to handle the contracts and multi-year development agreements MEDA has with other entities to bring jobs to Mission.

“We’ve been looking for a plan from the city,” Hall said Wednesday. “We simply haven’t seen a coherent explanation of what the city’s planning to do with the assets of MEDA as to its employees or its development agreements or any of those kinds of things. We continue to ask those questions of them, but they haven’t been forthcoming. So, it’s premature to consider a wholesale resignation from the board with the ability of the city to appoint those members.”

The city appeared prepared to take action to address those concerns with two resolutions on the agenda of a council meeting held Wednesday morning. However, after MEDA failed to relinquish control of their board to the city council, the city fathers decided to take no action on either resolution.

The answer to the MEDA employee question was to be addressed in the first resolution expressing the city’s intention to take whatever action is necessary so all employees of MEDA become MEDC and/or city employees. The second resolution was to state the intention of the city council to continue to delegate its economic development activities to MEDA.

Those intentions could be a thing of the past since Mayor Norberto Salinas, in an interview after the council meeting said, “The resolution was that they were going to resign yesterday and we were going to appoint the MEDC board members to take over MEDA. Apparently that’s not going to happen.” The MEDC board will start functioning as the city’s economic development arm, he said.

The MEDA employees will still have the option to become employees of the city or MEDC, he said, adding that he hopes they do come to work for the city.

Salinas also said the best thing for the city is to have the MEDC board keep the money it used to distribute to MEDA and have MEDC handle economic development for the city – the way that Edinburg and McAllen and other cities do it.

“There’s no sense in having two boards,” the mayor added.

Also on Wednesday’s city council agenda was the appointment of MEDC board members Polo de Leon, Cathy Garcia, Ricardo Martinez, Norberto Salinas, Linda Requenez, S. David Deanda Jr. and Jody Tittle to replace resigning members of the MEDA board. However, since MEDA did not choose to amend the corporation’s bylaws to allow the council to appoint its board members, the city could not take action on this item.

The seven MEDA board members who resigned at or prior to Tuesday’s board meeting are Dr. Henry Smith, Lorraine Kolenda, Paul Curtin, Pete Jaramillo, Dennis Burleson, Sandra Vecchio and Danny Carrera.

The remaining MEDA board members still serving include Chairman Robert Goodwin, Vice-Chairman Ben Olivarez, Geoff Hall, Keith Moore, Keith Padilla and Dr. David Heflin. Mayor Salinas also continues as a board member. However, the city manager is no longer a member of the MEDA board since the corporation’s bylaws were amended Thursday, Mar. 17, to reduce the size of the board from 15 to seven, eliminating the city manager position on the board.

MEDC Elects New President

The MEDC board also met Wednesday, Mar. 23, to elect a new president. The action was necessary since the city council removed President Joe Roseland from the board following a sharp disagreement between Roseland and the mayor at the last MEDC meeting held Feb. 22. Cathy Garcia was elected president and S. David Deanda Jr. was elected MEDC secretary.

Roseland had served on the MEDC board for almost 15 years and has been a staunch supporter of the mayor. When Roseland questioned if the budget needed to be amended and if public hearings needed to be conducted to comply with the council’s order to de-fund MEDA, the mayor apparently felt Roseland was challenging the council’s authority and asked Roseland to resign. Roseland refused, later saying he was just trying to do what the city council requested in the correct way.

MEDC took no action Wednesday evening on resolutions similar to the ones considered by the city council earlier in the day. However, following an executive session, the board authorized the [MEDC] president to look into the hiring of a consultant to facilitate the possible transition of economic development activities of the City of Mission to MEDC and place this item on the agenda of a future meeting for possible hiring.

City of Mission dissolves MEDA Originally published Friday, February 18
Mission Councilwomen barred from MEDA executive session Originally published Friday, March 4
Council removes Roseland as MEDC board president Originally published Friday, March 4
MEDA to discuss merger with MEDC Originally published Friday, March 4
MEDA board considers mass resignation Originally published Friday, March 11
Mission council supports MEDA board restructuring Originally published Friday, March 18
MEDA board members tell council, 'Slow down' Originally published Friday, March 18
Council strips MEDA's authority Originally published Tuesday, March 29, 11:24 p.m.
Mission rescinds MEDA's authority, hires its employees, except Townsend Originally published Friday, April 1
MEDA Timeline Originally published Friday, April 1
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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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