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This story will take a little digging, but The Advance News received it late Tuesday, July 28, on deadline day, of course. Here’s what we have so far: Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo “Ricky Rod” Rodriguez typed a letter Tuesday addressed to the Office of the Texas Attorney General, seeking an opinion on the county’s behalf tied to federal monies related to COVID-19 and the CARES Act. It seems that a private individual had filed a public information request seeking any and all information as to how Hidalgo County will spend, or has already spent, the millions it has received courtesy of the CARES Act. How many millions, you ask? Approximately $81 million. To be precise, $81,297,094. Now, as part of those federal aid dollars, Hidalgo County apparently doesn’t want to disclose how those dollars will be spent, or on what. In his letter to the AG, Rodriguez writes: “The County asserts that the responsive information is excepted from disclosure under the (Public Information Act).” Why exactly the county believes those public dollars to be exempt isn’t spelled out in the DA’s letter, but he promises that a brief will be forthcoming, explaining why Hidalgo County believes its COVID-related CARES Act monies should be exempt from public eyes. By the way, CARES stands for “The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” which is a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Trump back in March of this year. It was meant to help limit the pain caused by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many ways those monies can help relieve some of the economic pain. Why Hidalgo County doesn’t want that information to be disclosed to the public should be explained later this week. All in all, Hidalgo County received $151 million in CARES Act money. It doled out $114 per person to the cities, but kept $315 per person for those who live and/or work in the county’s unincorporated areas. ...

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