Kino's valedictory
Tue September 15, 2009 5:10 pm

From the press release:

Rep. Ismael “Kino” Flores, D-Palmview, whose legislative seniority and expertise have allowed him to successfully champion issues that are crucial to South Texans – including securing more than $1 billion for public education, transportation, and health programs for the Valley – on Tuesday, September 15, announced he will not be seeking reelection to an eighth two-year term in 2010.

Flores said his decision was influenced by recent indictments issued by a Travis County grand jury over information he says was properly submitted on his personal financial report.

The veteran lawmaker said he must concentrate on clearing his good name, but expressed regret that as a result of the controversy, Hidalgo County and the Valley are going to lose crucial power in the Texas Legislature.

“I worked effectively, fought hard, and delivered for South Texas,” he said. “I will not apologize for standing up for our region.”

Flores said he has never done anything to bring discredit to himself, his family, and his constituents. “When I was first elected to represent my constituents, I took an oath of office to uphold the laws and ethics rules of this great state,” Flores said. “At no point during my public service have I intentionally or knowingly violated any state law or rule.”

* * * *

I had dinner with Kino in McAllen last March, shortly before the March 4 primary election. I was there to write about his race against Sandra Rodriguez. Kino knew that his days were numbered – not because he expected to lose the primary (he didn’t expect to lose, and he didn’t) – but because he was old-style. After dinner we walked out to his pickup, the bed of which was full of signs featuring his first name. Kino puts up his own yard signs. “There is no other Rep like me,” he said.

Rodriguez told me during my trip to McAllen that Kino controls one of the local school boards in his part of Hidalgo County, and he knows where the teachers and other school employees live. Those who refuse to display his yard signs are in jeopardy of losing their jobs, she said. I don’t know whether this story is factual, but it is believable.

I suspect that even if Kino had not run into legal trouble over his failure to disclose certain contributions, he might have decided to end his career. He had no future in a House in which the speaker was named something other than Craddick. At a breakfast early in the session, before committee appointments were announced, Kino told me that he expected to be reappointed chairman of Licensing and Administrative Procedure, DBA liquor reg and gambling. I didn’t say anything, but I was surprised that Kino couldn’t read the tea leaves. There was no way that Joe Straus, whose family has horseracing interests, was going to put his future in the hands of Kino Flores. Without any hope of having influence in upcoming sessions, I doubt whether Kino would have stuck around to be a back-bencher and collect his $600 a month. He was right about one thing, though: “There is no other Rep like me.”

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