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La Joya Housing Authority attempts to neuter former executive director’s lawsuit

During a two-minute meeting on Saturday night, the La Joya Housing Authority board attempted to defang a lawsuit filed by former Executive Director Frances Salinas.

Tension between the housing authority board and Frances Salinas — the daughter of La Joya Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas and City Commissioner Mary Salinas — became public on Oct. 10, when the board abruptly fired her.

FrancesSalinasFrances Salinas, though, hadn’t posted the agenda 72 hours before the meeting, which left the board on shaky legal ground.

When the board attempted to fix her mistake by holding a new meeting, Frances Salinas filed a lawsuit against the housing authority. Along with the lawsuit, she secured a temporary restraining order against the housing authority, which prevented the board from fixing her mistake.

That forced the housing authority to find an attorney. He advised the board to void everything they approved on Oct. 10, which would neuter the lawsuit.

“We’re doing our best to bring this housing (authority) back to par,” said board member German Reyna.

Neither Frances Salinas nor her attorney, Dennis Ramirez of Donna, could be reached for comment.

The board meeting took just two minutes Saturday night.

Board Chairwoman Maricruz Sifuentes started promptly at 7:30 p.m. She asked the board for a motion to nullify the Oct. 10 meeting.

Without any discussion, the board voted 3-0 to “cancel, revoke or rescind all action taken at the Oct. 10 board meeting” and adjourned at 7:32 p.m.

With the lawsuit pending, Sifuentes and board Vice Chairwoman Sylvia Garces Valdez declined to comment on the decision.

In a motion filed Friday, however, attorney Timothy Daniels of San Antonio, who represents the housing authority, said that nullifying the Oct. 10 board meeting would leave the lawsuit toothless.

“The issue of any potential violation became moot once the LJHA board voided all actions taken at the October 10, 2018, meeting,” according to the motion Daniels filed on Friday.

Nullifying all action from the Oct. 10 meeting leaves Frances Salinas in limbo.

While the board technically un-fired her, she remains locked out of the building, unable to access housing authority computers and blocked from signing checks. The board also hired a consultant, Cristi LaJeunesse, to replace her.

Hidalgo County Court-at-Law Judge Albert Garcia will hold a hearing on the lawsuit and the temporary restraining order at 9 a.m. Monday.

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