Thursday, January 19, 2017

Speaking of Egos...City Hall Amirite?

Okay enough with candidates that play dress-up. All hell is breaking loose at city council and its going to be a big couple of news days from what I've read so far.

Talk amongst the media folk in town is about how they are all dropping open record requests at city hall. The feeding frenzy is about to begin and you're going to probably see a lot of city officials ducking and dodging the media.

KTSM broke the story last night during their 6pm broadcast and they were followed by KFOX and the Times. Here's the story on KTSM and the Times because they seem to do the best job of putting it all together in a comprehensive manner.

Am I the only one here wondering how stupid can members of council be at this point? Have you people learned nothing from Textgate? In fact, that may ultimately be an issue and I'll talk about that at the end so stick around.

So now that you've read the stories, here are some things that stand out to me - intent, public perception, and City Attorney Sylvia Firth.

Firth things Firth - how in the blue hell is the City Attorney NOT prepared to go forward with the ethics complaint. She's had plenty of time to prepare and I for one am not getting caught up in the bullshit debate over her interpretation of what days means. In parts of the charter it makes the distinction between days and business days. the portion of the charter that discusses the ethics commission it says days.

But that is a bullshit argument meant to delay the issue.

The reality is she doesn't HAVE to take the full amount of time. Just like ORR's don't HAVE to take 10 days either. Personally I think she's stalling on purpose to fly air cover for her clients, the city reps in question. There should've been an outside council appointed from day one because she can't serve the commission charged with investigating ethics complaints and also defend the people alleged to have acted unethically.

That is a flaw in the system.

A big fat one too.

Why wasn't the Ethics Commission notified before the meeting that Firth's office wasn't going to be prepared to go forward? That seems like a pretty easy notification to make to the Chair. At the very least, its unprofessional of Firth.


There are messages in the KTSM story that mention a meeting with the mayor, the meeting being moot and the mission being accomplished. Read those.

To me, that shows there was a plan in place that was trying to be executed. Two of the city reps acknowledge, before the meeting, the issues with a quorum. One rep tells the other that if he wants to go, that she will step out to avoid the quorum.

That is as much of a smoking gun as you can get in my opinion. They knew the possible issue with the TOMA and showed their intent to attempt to side-step the quorum violation by making it a walking quorum.

One of the reps, for apparently no other reason than ego, is apparently so driven by not wanting the mayor to take credit, goes to the meeting anyway. Personally I think that is the best characterization of what is wrong with city council.


Public Perception

That leads me to public perception. There is something wrong when your driving force, at least in the communication we've seen so far, is public perception and who is getting the credit, rather than being solution-oriented. That is a problem that has to get fixed.

According to social media posts from KTSM staff, more is coming later today at the 5 and 6 broadcast and they mentioned thousands of emails. So some dirty laundry is gonna be aired.

In their story KTSM had to make a correction about who texts were originating from because - big surprise - the city didn't really label them all that well. And this is where things I think will get interesting.

If you're requesting communication between several city reps via text message and email. each of them should have a record of that communication because they are public documents. So all parties involved should have the same records right? If they don't, then someone deleted a public record.

That ladies and gentlemen, is a crime.

Walk with me so I can illustrate what I'm talking about. Say me and my homeboys Tony, Flaco, Georgie, and Pepe are all elected officials. Say someone requests the text messages between us. Well they can only get whatever is public business. So any text messages talking about how much the Dallas Cowpies suck aren't public business and don't have to be released. But, say we are talking about an agenda item that says El Paso wants to succeed from Texas because the Cowboys suck so bad, then our text messages about that city business should be released. And all of us should be able to provide the same messages that were exchanged between us. In short, if there was a group message between the 5 of us and its public record, there should be 5 identical records of that conversation. But if an open record request comes back and only one person supplied the conversation between all of us, even if it is accurate, it shows that 4 people either didn't turn it over or deleted the record.

Which is against the law.

So since there is confusion about who is saying what in the messages, a request should be made of each official. Then there is no confusion about who said what, and you know that no one is reading and deleting. And the beauty of all of this is that they can go back and request the texts again because you can't destroy the records because that would ALSO be against the law, so they can see if that is what happened. And even if they DID "accidentally" delete the messages...we know that software exists to recover deleted messages now, don't we?

In conclusion...I'm most anxious to see the role that Max Grossman plays in all of this. Something tells me he's not gonna come out of this looking too good, but we'll see...

David Saucedo & Ego

David "There is no Tomorrow" Saucedo
I feel a little bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burns for writing a blog about David Saucedo's ego when there is so much important news happening at the city with the arena.

I'll get to all of that, so for now, fiddle I shall.

Surely with all the consultants surrounding Saucedo there had to be a voice or two trying to save the candidate from himself. I've been around a lot of candidates and a lot of them have some pretty silly and narcissistic ideas run through their head. A good team will step in a save the candidate from themselves when necessary.

But the fact that the video ever made it beyond a cocktail conversation gives you insight into just who David Saucedo is as a person. It tells you a lot about Saucedo. Mostly it tells you about his ego, his arrogance, and how he sees himself.

He sees himself as some sort of hero. Like he's a costumed hero that is out to save El Paso.

And that isn't just a crazy level of douchedom, its scary. Its scary because whenever people have a savior complex and get into positions of authority, problems happen. The last thing you want to do with an ego that big is feed it power.

Since he enjoys playing dress-up so much, he might as well put on a Batman suit and campaign as the caped crusader. Hell, as much as he's paying consultants, he might as well pick the one who he is paying the most and make him dress up as the Boy Wonder and follow him around saying things like, "Holy Downtown Arena Batman, there's the Joker!" and by Joker, I mean Max Grossman.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Barceleau Fails to File Finance Documents

Jaime Barceleau, candidate for El Paso City Council District 3 has failed to file the campaign finance reports before the deadline.

Campaign finance reports are required by law for transparency purposes so that the voters have a clear understanding of who are the financial bakers of a given candidate. 
Fellow District 3 Candidate Antonio Williams only recently filed for a treasurer and was not required to file a financial report during this period. 

Cassandra Hernandez-Brown has filed her campaign report in accordance with the requirements set forth by the Texas Ethics Commission. Her reports indicates that she raised about $6,300 so far. 

This screenshot from the City of El Paso website shows all of the candidates that have filed their financial disclosure documents and conspicuously absent is a report from Mr. Barceleau. 

This is a screenshot of the candidates that have filed a treasurer so far. As you can see, Barceleau's name is present in this section. 

Barceleau has had a couple of campaign events in which money was spent. He also has a person running a field operation, which may be someone working on a volunteer basis considering the guy has almost no real campaign experience, but there are definite expenditures that have been made and not reported. 

Violations of reporting and transparency can be reported to the Texas Ethics Commission. 

Saucedo Blowing Money...

Well as if the Boys and Girls Club financial disaster wasn't bad enough for Saucedo's fiscal conservative message to voters...

Take a look at how he's blown through his campaign cash. He better hope he hasn't tapped out his cash flow because he's gonna need a ton of it for mail against Dee Margo if he's smart - and he can't afford to blow it on consultants.

Saucedo has basically spent the vast majority of his money on consulting fees and campaign video. How much? Well he spent a total $30,832.20 so far on consultants. That is about 64% of the total amount of money he raised and it was spent on a staggering 10 different consultants.

That is a higher percentage of his campaign money than even Forma charges.

But I guess its not so bad if it produces good results right?

Well get ready to LOL!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the stupidest fucking campaign ad I've ever seen.

I mean ever.

Seriously, I didn't make this myself and I'm not screwing around. He actually spent money on this.

I almost don't know where to start, but I have questions. What in the world is up with the lucha mask? Did he really spend money on a getting his campaign logo put on boxing silks? What did they drink the night before that made them wake up the next morning and say, "Ya know what would be a good idea for a campaign commercial? Taking the jogging video from the state rep race to the next level. Can we rent a boxing gym?"

Also, let me be clear. It was beautifully shot. Good job on production. He looks like an even bigger douche now, but it was great production.

But seriously, who the fuck thought this was a good concept? Who ever it is, should never be paid to do political work ever again.

Unless Sly Stallone decides to run for office.

Finance Reports: Saucedo in Lead; Acosta Broke

Its shocking to me how little money there is in the mayoral race so far, which may be indicative of the fact that the money guys aren't happy with the field of candidates.

There is a lot to go through with the campaign finance reports but the major headline is that Saucedo has the early money lead and is spending a lot of it on consulting fees.

A lot.

And City Rep Emma Acosta's campaign is in lots of trouble early. Basically she's broke and based on the news story I saw last night, it looks like she spent a lot of money on her fundraiser last night. Last night's fundraiser won't go on this latest report, but when you figure what she paid for the location, food, mariachis, etc she better hope she raked in the cash last night because her latest report shows she has around $700 left.

That is an embarrassingly small amount of money for any race, in fact it appears to be the least amount of money on hand for any credible candidate for any of the city council races as well. She filed two reports, one as an elected official and one for Mayor. Here's a link to her report.


By contrast, Saucedo came in with about $48k and has already spent about $37K. If he has more money where that came from, that is a pretty solid showing, but if he tapped out all his contributors this early, and blew through the money (mostly on consulting fees but I'll get to that in another post) then he might also be in trouble. Here's a link to his report.

Also, whoever wrote out the individual contributions on his finance report has great penmanship.

Surprisingly, Dee Margo had a pretty terrible showing in this report as well. He had one contribution for $100, but had some campaign money lying around still and appears to have loaned himself $15k. Here is a link to his report.

In my next post, I'll post some pretty interesting stuff about the individual candidates' finance reports. Some interesting stuff there.

Now more than ever, its clearly anyone's race.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hey Jaime Barceleau...

New Balance shoe company called.

They want their logo back.

Actually upon further review...

His logo looks like the New Balance Logo had an ugly illegitimate child with the Cuban flag. Maybe he's just a fan of Fidel Castro.

I also think its hilarious that he had the nerve to put the phrase "Leadership you can trust" on his campaign signs.

Pretty soon, you'll know why I think its hilarious.

County Historical Commission Under Fire

The El Paso County Historical Commission is under fire as of late and you can see a couple of news stories on the issue done by KVIA and the El Paso Times.

According to both reports the EPCHC allegedly violated the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) when board President Bernie Sargent allegedly polled the members of the County Commission on their position toward the site of the proposed downtown arena.

TOMA requires that if a government entity or body takes an action on an issue that the public be notified and it be done at a meeting open to the public.

The action that was taken was to oppose the site of the city's arena location. They then publicly opposed the arena site and frequently used their titles as members of the EPCHC in doing so.

Its pretty hard to see how this was not a BLATANT violation of the TOMA.

And then...

They participate in a meeting with members of council that appear to be trying to skirt the TOMA by rotating members of council participating in the closed-door backroom deal.

There's another blogger that throws around the word "corruption" all the time to the point where no one even listens. I mean the Tolbert Steak-gate wasn't his best decision, but to call it corrupt is just plain silly.

Which is remarkable when you consider you have actual government entities, like the EPCHC allegedly openly and flagrantly violating the TOMA. Make no mistake, this isn't just a gathering of a group of well-intentioned do-gooders who's only crime is they love El Paso.

They love white El Paso history and Trust buildings. And they exploited brown people to interject themselves in an official capacity into one of the most important public conversations we've had as a community since the ball park.

What is shocking is that no one pushed back against the email from the chair. In other bodies, Shane Haggerty comes to mind at YISD, when a member feels like there is a violation of the TOMA, they simply get up and leave and refuse to participate in a possible violation.

It appears that level of integrity is missing from this group of folks.

As a friend of mine very poignantly put it, if this was the all-brown city council of Socorro or San Eli doing this kind of thing, we would be having a very different conversation.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Margo to Hold Fundraiser at Peter Piper Pizza

I know what you're thinking, that LionStar is just poking fun at one of those two Republicans running for mayor again.

Well I'm not.

Okay, I am.

But I'm not making this up.

You'd expect a fringe candidate or one of the crazies to hold a campaign reception and fundraiser at a place like Peter Piper Pizza. But in his effort to not look like an entitled wealthy white guy, Dee Margo is going to be one with the people and have a campaign reception and fundraiser at everyone's least favorite place to hold birthday parties for 5 year olds.

Honestly, this is way out of Margo's comfort zone. Remember the last time he ran for a race this big he spent 3/4 of a million dollars so its a stark contrast for Margo to be holding a fundraiser and reception in a place that sells beer in a pitcher, has game tokens, a lot of kids running around.

I think this raises a serious ethics question. Are those red tickets from skee-ball something that has to be reported as in-kind because they have no cash value, or do you have to report them after you turn them in for the Voltron, Defender of the Universe Night Light?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

O'Rourke Shuffles the Deck

Let me begin by saying that I am a big fan of our congressman, but he doesn't have a snow ball's chance in Phoenix of winning a race for the United States Senate.

I'll vote for the guy because its an easy choice over either of our two current senators, but he apparently hasn't looked at election math.

It ain't gonna happen and he's going to be the next election cycle's version of Wendy Davis.

That being said, he will shuffle the political deck in town in a big way. Basically the vacating of his seat will get a lot of people to toss their hat in the ring including a likely group of people like Mayor Oscar Leeser, County Judge Veronica Escobar, State Rep Cesar Blanco, and probably several more people that could be considered viable.

And that is not counting all the crazies that will run.

But Beto's jump may open up several other seats that will likely change the face of local government in a very meaningful way.

So stay tuned because things are likely to get really interesting around town as a result.

Haggerty's Split on Immigration

Shane Haggerty (L) - Andrew Haggerty (R)
If you haven't figured out yet, the Haggerty's come in blue and red. El Paso's biggest political family has been a fixture in Northeast and Westside politics for years. In fact in some parts of El Paso, a Haggerty has represented the area in almost every single level of government including school board, constable, justice of the peace, city rep, county commissioner, and state rep.

If we elected dog catchers, they'd win that election too.

These days, most of the Haggerty's are Democrats and only one of the elected Haggerty's currently in office is a Republican. That would Andrew Haggerty, the County Commissioner that represents mostly the Westside and a sliver of the Northeast.

The rest are Democrats.

Commissioner Haggerty took a position on a meaningless resolution from Commissioner's Court the other day - I'll go on a my rant about resolutions in a minute - that President Haggerty of YISD disagrees with strongly.

The Commissioner voted against a resolution rejected an anti-immigrant sentiment that seems to be sweeping across the nation. The Commissioner's Court wanted to send a message that they supported comprehensive immigration reform and Andrew Haggerty took some heat for voting against it. Some called him racist. I don't think he's racist, just completely out of touch with this community, but that is a blog for another day.

Perhaps one where Commissioner Stout is actually in El Paso (good luck with that).

YISD President Shane Haggerty issued the following statement when news of his cousin Andrew's vote against the Commissioner's Court resolution:

"As a life-long resident of this beautiful border community, I applaud the efforts of Commissioners Court and City Council to push back against the politics of hate as a policy issue. We are a nation of immigrants and need common-sense solutions to the complexities of immigration. As a Democrat, resident of a border community and a Catholic, I support comprehensive immigration reform."

Shane Haggerty has signaled his intent to run for City Council in District 4 (NE), which is the race to replace out-going City Rep Carl Robinson who is term-limited.

Resolution Rant

Resolutions are non-binding. They are basically meaningless.

Too many people confuse them with actual policy and do one of two things - pump up a resolution like it really fucking matters, or get their panties in a wad like it really fucking matters.

The bottom line is when it comes to resolutions - it doesn't fucking matter.

I wish they would change the name to ceremonial resolutions or something that would be more indicative of their true nature so people would stop getting all worked up about them.

Also, I wish there would be a cap on how many resolutions you can do in a year. Seriously a couple of members of Commissioners Court have resolutions on every single agenda of the year. Like their week isn't complete unless they hand out a worthless piece of paper to someone. They like handing out worthless pieces of paper so much you'd think they work at a career school!

Or maybe there should be a running tally off efficiency with members of Commissioner's Court. Lets see the report that logs all the meaningless shit they put on an agenda. That would be fun.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mayoral Race Shift - Why Margo Won't Win

I could make this really short and say that he won't win because he's white and Republican.

But let me illustrate my point a little more clearly because the people blowing up Margo's chances of winning are comical to me.

City Rep Cortney Niland was going to run for mayor and backed out at the last minute. I think she could've beat Margo. Yes, you read that correctly. The rep that almost lost to a weak candidate was a stronger mayoral candidate than Margo.

Walk with me down memory lane for a moment, shall we?

Dee Margo has run in a race that encompasses the entire city of El Paso previously. A little over a decade ago he ran against Eliot Shapleigh when the senator was politically at his weakest.

At the result? Margo got his ass handed to him:

He didn't even warrant getting an Adelante Con Ganas Award from Senator Shapleigh following the loss.

Mind you, that was 11 years ago, before anyone really was introduced to Margo in the electorate. Now he's been a Republican State Rep. He's headed an unelected school board in a controversial move by the state and was appointed to the position because of his Republican connections.

The point is, people are going to naively try to brush the last election result under the rug by saying this election (the mayoral) is non-partisan and therefore Margo's money and name ID make him viable.

His name ID is a liability. Oh, and he has a voting record.

Sure, with Emma Acosta and fellow Republican candidate David Saucedo in the race, its a pitifully weak mayoral field, especially now that Leeser has made it clear he's not gonna save El Paso from these candidates, but Margo is still at a big disadvantage.

Because not even money is going to save Margo's name ID liability.

Here's what I mean...

According to campaign finance reports Margo's campaign spent $733,175.33 to try to win a senate seat. When he didn't have a voting record. That's a chingo of feria to spend on a campaign.

There is no way in hell there is going to be that much money at play in the mayoral race. Seriously, there isn't going to be anywhere near that much money on the table. And if 3/4 of million dollars a decade ago couldn't do it for him then, what facts would anyone base his viability on now?

How do you get anyone south of the freeway in El Paso to vote for Margo?

Mayor Leeser showed his cards already and isn't going to run for reelection. Saucedo's two campaign guys (now famous for their cameo - the frustrated look and the bun - in Saucedo's shit-down-his-pants interview on KTSM) are now ready to spike the ball in the end zone.

Saucedo is the biggest beneficiary of Beto O'Rourke's unbelievable stupid idea to give up his congressional seat to run for US Senate. They know that. All they have to do is protect Saucedo from exposing his weaknesses (basically speaking) any further and watch Acosta implode and Margo struggle to gain traction.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Leeser Considering Congressional Bid

check out KTSM website for breaking news story on Mayor Leeser considering a congressional bid. Very different from his mayoral race where he was last to enter the race.

Details to follow.