Controversial RMA appointment will likely stand

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County Commissioner David Fuentes said he will not rescind his uncle’s appointment to the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority (RMA) board.

Fuentes’ appointment of his uncle to the powerful regional transportation board created talk of nepotism for weeks, but the issue is now moot after county leaders declined to place the item up for discussion at their next meeting Tuesday.

“There’s going to be opinions on all actions that we take,” Fuentes said Saturday. “Sometimes we make decisions, and it’s not always the popular opinion.”

Steve Crain, the county’s legal counsel, opined last week that Fuentes’ appointment did not violate state nepotism laws or present a conflict of interest for the commissioner nor his appointee, Ezequiel Reyna Jr., because the position is not compensated. State laws on nepotism only apply to positions that are compensated.

Fuentes toyed with the idea of rescinding his vote, telling The Monitor last week he was still considering the decision. Ultimately, Fuentes decided to stick with his original choice, ignoring questions of perception.

“If you just look at the qualifications, the experience the knowledge, I can’t think of a better advocate for Precinct 1,” Fuentes said, defending his choice.

Reyna, who was a heavy-weight contributor to Fuentes’ election campaign, is set to replace Josue Reyes on the RMA board. His term is slated to begin Feb. 1, but the RMA board of directors must first swear him in.

“I appreciate Josue Reyes and the time he spent on the board serving our community,” Fuentes said. “He is a very professional individual and I appreciate the comments he made the other day.”

The RMA board, which managed over $40 million in revenue last year, did not formally recognize Reyna as a director at their meeting last week because the county had not yet sent the entity a formal notice.

The RMA was established in 2005 as an independent governmental agency created by the Texas Transportation Commission and the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court to accelerate needed transportation projects in Hidalgo County, according to its website.

nlopez@themonitor.com