Tenant commissioner may be removed from La Joya Housing Authority board for failing to attend meetings

This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 18, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.

Tenant Commissioner Jose Armando Salinas may be removed from the La Joya Housing Authority board for failing to attend meetings.

Jose Armando Salinas represents housing authority tenants on the five-member board. He hasn’t attended a board meeting since Sept. 4.

20191018 JoseArmandoSalinas“They haven’t contacted me about that,” Jose Armando Salinas said Tuesday, adding that he hadn’t always been properly informed about board meetings.

Jose Armando Salinas didn’t attend board meetings on Sept. 25, when the board canceled the meeting for lack of quorum; Oct. 2, when the board approved a contract with Executive Director Ruben Villarreal; and Oct. 7, when the board approved a contract with attorney Javier Villalobos.

“It is mandatory for Board Members to attend all meeting (sic) either regular or special, unless the member has a very good excuse,” according to the board bylaws, which the housing authority released under the Texas Public Information Act. “If a Board Member fails to attend two (2) meetings in a row, he/she is subject for dismissal from the Board.”

The bylaws don’t include a definition of “a very good excuse” or provide any examples. Who would determine whether or not an excuse is “very good” is similarly unclear.

Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas, who appoints the housing authority board members, may also remove a member of the board for inefficiency, neglect of duty or official misconduct.

Before the mayor removes a member of the board, however, he must provide that board member with a copy of the charges and the opportunity to appear at a hearing.

Mayor Salinas said he asked the housing authority for records that show whether or not Jose Armando Salinas failed to attend board meetings.

“When they officially tell me” that he missed at least two meetings and violated the bylaws, Mayor Salinas said, “then I’ll take action.”

Mayor Salinas appointed Jose Armando Salinas, 54, of La Joya to the housing authority board on Feb. 28.

He was controversial from the start.

Border Patrol arrested Jose Armando Salinas on Nov. 7, 1993, when agents at the Falfurrias checkpoint caught him with about 45 kilograms of cocaine, according to documents released by the National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. District Judge Hayden W. Head Jr. sentenced him to 87 months in federal prison.

Jose Armando Salinas initially aligned himself with housing authority board Chairman John Pena and board Vice Chairman Jorge Bazan.

They split when Pena and Bazan supported Villarreal, the former mayor of Rio Grande City, for executive director.

Jose Armando Salinas supported Claudia Alcazar, the interim executive director.

After the decision, Jose Armando Salinas criticized them on Facebook and stopped attending board meetings.

After the decision, Jose Armando Salinas criticized them on Facebook and stopped attending board meetings.

“I agree with him on a lot of stuff,” Pena said. “But he needed to attend the meetings, no matter what happened.”

Jose Armando Salinas also accused Bazan of attempting to remove him from the board because he owed more than $1,000 in rent.

“I guess he forgot when I was on their side and helping them out, and they couldn’t make a meeting without me,” Jose Armando Salinas said. “They would come to my apartment and they would be here. They didn’t want to go to a meeting if I was not there with them. And now they’re acting like that against me.”

Jose Armando Salinas paid $700 in past-due rent on Oct. 1 and another $440 on Oct. 2, according to housing authority records.

“So I think that’s very unfair on their part,” Jose Armando Salinas said. “That shows me what kind of persons they are.”

Bazan didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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