Edinburg’s new city manager is well-schooled in city ops
Texas Rangers visit city hall twice
By Gregg Romero Wendorf
Pilar Rodriguez, the former PSJA Bear, McAllen assistant manager, and RMA executive director, is now Edinburg’s new city manager after the city council approved his hiring during a special called meeting last Friday. He begins his new job July 2.
Rodriguez’s hiring comes on the heels of former City Manager Richard Hinojosa’s sudden resignation June 4 just prior to a city council meeting that would have evaluated his work performance, discussed that performance, and then decided what action, if any to take, moving forward. Hinojosa’s contract was set to expire this November.
It is still unclear how this plays into Hinojosa’s sudden resignation as city manager, and it may be a simple coincidence, but a day after he resigned, a Texas Ranger showed up at Edinburg City Hall with a subpoena for Hinojosa’s computer and cell phones, according to at least three sources who asked not to be named in this story.
Approximately two weeks prior to Hinojosa’s resignation, according to the same sources, a Texas Ranger visited city hall with another subpoena in hand asking for financial records tied to past city financial transactions.
What the purpose of those two subpoenas were isn’t clear. To date, no city official has been charged with a crime.
Asked last week to comment on Hinojosa’s tenure as Edinburg city manager, Mayor Richard Molina said, “He had been with the city for many, many years in different capacities – grants writer, planning and zoning director, city manager. I think that while he was there, he did an excellent job. He’s an Edinburg guy, born and raised. Last week (the week of June 1) he told me, ‘Sir, today is my last day. I’m going to be going on vacation with my wife.’ I know he has family in Austin, and he’s been visiting there pretty frequently since I’ve been mayor. I know that his contract will be up in November 2018, and he was looking to retire. I wish him well, and I know he’ll do well whatever (he may choose to do in the future). He turned in his letter of resignation effective immediately (June 5). Any questions about why he didn’t give (the city) 30 days’ notice, you’d have to ask him. He resigned, so the city won’t have to pay out any money left remaining as part of his contract.
When Hinojosa resigned June 5, his name was indeed on the city agenda, but according to Molina, that was because some council members had pointed out that the city council needed to get a written evaluation done on the city manager.
“Putting Mr. Hinojosa on the city agenda was just a formality. In fact, I had recommended last year (before Molina was elected mayor) that each councilman and the mayor do their own evaluation (of Hinojosa); but it never came out. You have to have at least an annual evaluation. Mr. Hinojosa was into his third year (as city manager) and no evaluation with regard to his work performance had ever been done.”
Hinojosa stepped up to the job as city manager after Ramiro Garza resigned in 2015.
Enter Pilar Rodriguez
After Hinojosa’s resignation, it only took the Edinburg city council 10 days to name his successor: Pilar Rodriguez, who is currently serving as executive director of the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority (RMA).
Three years ago, Rodriguez was a finalist for the Edinburg CM position, but lost out to Hinojosa. After last week’s special meeting during Rodriguez’s new-hire was announced, Molina issued a prepared statement: “It was long overdue that he brings his expertise to Edinburg. The public will not be disappointed with his appointment.”
Echoing Molina’s sentiments, Edinburg Councilman Gilbert Enriquez said, “Mr. Rodriguez will bring the knowledge, stability, and guidance Edinburg needs.”
Asked why he decided to leave the RMA and accept the Edinburg offer, Rodriguez said, “It was a really tough decision, because a lot of the things going on at the RMA are really exciting right now; but I spent 20 years in local government with the city of McAllen prior to coming over to the RMA, and so that’s something that I wanted to get back into, was local government at the local level.”
Born and raised in Pharr, PSJA class of 1987, Rodriguez went to Texas A&I in Kingsville where he got his degree in engineering. After that, he spent the next approximately 20 years with the city of McAllen. To say he’s excited about his move to Edinburg would be an understatement.
“Edinburg has a lot of energy, and there is a lot going on in that town with regard to a lot of growth. They’ve got the university, and Edinburg has a lot of development going on. The city has got a lot of new venues that have opened or are fixing to open. Edinburg has got some really good retail anchors; great medical (services and opportunities); so they’ve got a diversity of things that just from a city management standpoint make it a very exciting opportunity.”