2019-03-13 / Front Page

8-liner issue comes back to Lyford commission

BY ALLEN ESSEX
Staff Writer


YOLANDA TAMEZ, left, and David Medina address the Lyford City Commission. Tamez owns Horseshoe Entertainment and Medina owns 8-liner machines at several “maquintas.” (Photo by Allen Essex) YOLANDA TAMEZ, left, and David Medina address the Lyford City Commission. Tamez owns Horseshoe Entertainment and Medina owns 8-liner machines at several “maquintas.” (Photo by Allen Essex) Lyford city officials on Monday once again heard an appeal to reopen a game room that had been closed twice by law enforcement.

Yolanda Tamez and David Medina said fees for a city permit to operate Horseshoe Entertainment, the 8-liner game room, should not be charged for the year when it was closed. Cameron and Willacy County Task force raids caused the closings and the persons arrested on gambling promotion were eventually cleared, with all charges dropped.

El Toro was closed Sept. 2, 2016, when a task force called Operation Bishop North, led by Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz and Willacy County DA Annette Hinojosa, raided the maquinita. El Toro had also been raided in 2015 by a group of lawmen led by Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence.

Since then, the game room has been closed more than a year and Medina, who owns 8- liner machines and Tamez, who owns the El Toro business, asked if a year’s worth of permit fees (about $8,000) could be waived.

Mayor Jose G. “Wally” Solis said that commissioners should consider allowing El Toro to reopen.

“We never closed it down,” he said, meaning the city government.

But City Commissioner Albert Cavazos, who is running against Solis for mayor, said it is a conflict of interest for the mayor to be involved in such a discussion since Medina is the mayor’s son-in-

Rental trailers were also seen at game rooms in Sebastian at the time.

Lyford Police Chief Andy Maldonado said a raid was not being conducted, just that the owner was making a theft report.

In other business on Monday, Lyford commissioners terminated an agreement with Sigler, Winston Greenwood Engineering, then replacing it with a revised agreement with that company to design water system improvements.

An agreement with Langford Community Management Services for a 2019-2020 Texas Community Development Block Grant for an (El Toro) sewer lift station rehabilitation project. An agreement with Langford for a drainage pump station on 8th Street Central Park project was also approved. law. On Tuesday, Mayor Solis denied any personal involvement in the maquinta industry but that Lyford is desperate for business investment and sales tax revenue.

City Attorney Rick Hoffman was present, but did not comment on the issue. But commissioners once again tabled the issue of renewing El Toro’s city permit to operate a game room in Lyford. Hoffman only said the city’s 8-liner ordinance needs to be revised.

Solis said there is a state law that allows the maquinitas to operate.

Two unidentified men in the audience who work for El Toro Game Room were listening but not commenting.

On Tuesday, police cars and rental trucks were at El Toro, apparently moving gaming machines.

An agreement with Perez Engineering for a CDBG project for a storm drainage pump station for Central Park was also approved. It will be funded by a Texas CDBG Disaster Relief program.

During the later part of the meeting, the mayor objected to a planned trip by Maldonado to the Texas Emergency Management Conference April 15-18. An identical, but less expensive, program will be held in May in Harlingen, Solis said.

Maldonado said his expenses for the San Antonio trip were being paid by the City of Raymondville. Commissioners approved Maldonado’s trip, the mayor said.

He had objected because of the need to save city funds, stating the city would be losing two days of Maldonado’s pay and also wouldn’t have his services for those days.

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