San Juan fires city attorney as new administration takes over

SAN JUAN — The city commission’s first move under new Mayor Mario Garza, a former commissioner, came Wednesday as they fired City Attorney Javier Villalobos.

The commission then voted to hire Rick Palacios, and his law firm, as the new city attorney. Palacios has been the attorney for the city’s Economic Development Corporation and is also Edinburg’s city attorney.

Villalobos did not attend Wednesday’s special called meeting.

The three commissioners on hand, Pete Garcia, Jesus “Jesse” Ramirez and Raudel Maldonado, voted unanimously on both motions.

“Nothing against Mr. Villalobos,” Garza said after the meeting. “But we’re just going to take another route since this is a new administration coming in. Speaking with the city manager, there was some stuff that had been pending for a while — I can’t really discuss what — under his watch, as far as reviewing some of the contracts and stuff like that, had been delayed for some time. So we as a commission decided to go another route.”

Garza said Palacios and his firm — Palacios, Garza & Thompson — have been doing a “wonderful job” at the EDC.

Before the meeting adjourned, Garza made a final declaration.

“At this time I’d like to put on the record that Garza, the attorney, has no relationship with myself or my family,” he said.