No sane individual can disagree with The Monitor’s Thursday editorial calling on Hidalgo County Commissioner David Fuentes not to appoint his uncle to the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority Board as it violates nepotism laws. Webster’s defines nepotism as: “favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship.” Neither you, I, nor Fuentes can change that definition. If his uncle, Ezekiel Reyna Jr., attends meetings, makes decisions, votes or directs projects then he will be doing “work” for the county because he has volunteered to do specific jobs. There is no mention of pay in the definition.
Most certainly, there are those who could twist this basic definition around to make it beneficial to them or their families but then that is what the law is meant to prevent. The presence of nepotism, and its cousin cronyism, are two of the factors that continue to fuel dishonest politics in the RGV. It makes no difference that Mr. Reyna will not be paid for his services. He will be responsible directly or indirectly for the rewarding of millions of dollars and in that capacity responsible to all the taxpayers. Only by rescinding his nomination can Precinct 1 Commissioner Fuentes do his part to pull the RGV out of its current position of government by family and power, not by law.
Ned Sheats, Mission
Wiktionary — The Free Dictionary defines nepotism as: “The favoring of relatives or personal friends because of their relationship rather than because of their abilities.” This definition of nepotism aptly fits the action of Hidalgo County Commissioner David Fuentes in the appointment of his uncle to the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority Board.
In defending his decision to appoint his uncle, Fuentes is using semantics and points to the Texas Ethics Commission as well as The Texas Attorney General’s Office stating that he has done nothing wrong. While technically that may be true; the following is from the TEC website A Guide to Ethics Laws for State Officers and Employees. “As a public servant, you owe a responsibility to the people of Texas in the performance of your official duties….As a public servant; you should act fairly and honestly and should avoid creating even the appearance of impropriety.
Commissioner Fuentes should hold himself to the highest standards as a public servant. In the public sphere, favoritism, cronyism and nepotism undermine the common good. When someone is granted a position because of connections rather than because they have the best credentials and experience, the service that person renders to the public may be inferior.
Because favoritism is often covert but in this case overt, Fuentes undercuts the transparency that should be part of governmental hiring and contracting processes.
I applaud The Monitor for calling out Fuentes and I am very disappointed that not one public official has spoken out on this act of nepotism. Their silence speaks words about their political ethics.
Robert C. Bonds, McAllen