Leaders mull response in tax office case

BROWNSVILLE — Cameron County Commissioners met yesterday morning to discuss what possible action they could take, if any, regarding the tax office following Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre Jr.’s arrest.

Before a closed session in which they discussed the matter, Mary Helen Flores, a resident of Brownsville representing Citizens Against Voter Abuse, addressed the commission during public comments urging them to act.

“I am here today to ask you, as the political leaders of this county, to put your foot down and say no to the corrupt practices that continue to plague our public offices,”

Flores said. “I ask you to do everything in your power to follow the laws and if you are able, please remove the indicted tax office employees from their duties.”

Yzaguirre and three others were arrested on Jan. 6 on various charges including bribery, engaging in organized criminal activity and official oppression. They have not been indicted.

Flores suggested unpaid leave as an appropriate measure to take on behalf of the public.

The issues discussed in executive session pertained to the operation of the tax office and what the process for appointing a new tax assessor-collector is.

However, due to the fact that Yzaguirre is an elected official, the commissioners cannot remove him from office.

The Commissioners Court would only be able to appoint a new tax assessor-collector in the event he is removed from his post following a district court ruling or if Yzaguirre resigns.

Yzaguirre has stated he will continue working until he is acquitted of all the allegations.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and see what occurs on the district attorney side,” said Juan A. Gonzalez, county civil litigation counselor.

Although the commissioners themselves cannot act, any resident of Cameron County who has lived in the area for longer than six months can file a Title 87 petition for the removal of a county official, which Flores said she has.

The commission also briefly discussed the civil legal division chief counsel’s resignation notice before tabling it and appointed Pct. 3 Commissioner David A. Garza the county judge pro tem.