Thursday, July 19, 2018

Grossman Attacks Beto O'Rourke

El Paso's big time conservative dandy Max Grossman has taken on Beto O'Rourke in his latest email tantrum. Grossman, a Trump supporter since he was a candidate, has often used monolingual Spanish speaking seniors as a media prop but hasn't ever been critical of the administration's attacks on the immigrant community or efforts to separate families. So his on-going effort to put on brown face for the purposes of his personal gain has demonstrated the level of hypocrisy Grossman is capable of.

But his email also shows another level of hypocrisy that I'll get to in just a moment.

First, take a look at how he attacks Beto O'Rourke, who is currently taking on another conservative - Senator Ted Cruz.

At a time when most everyone is getting behind O'Rourke because he represents the first chance at a Democrat unseating a statewide Republican, Grossman attacks one of O'Rourke's major policy initiatives when he was a member of city council.

Here's the email:

Now the hypocrisy here is that while out of one side of his mouth, the Dandy is throwing an absolute tantrum about the city's financial situation. He's done so in several of his emails, so its a reoccurring theme. The irony is that he is personally responsible for the fact that the tax payers of El Paso, you and I, are footing the bill to fight the lawsuits they have initiated against the city of El Paso.

So he cares about the debt El Pasoans have to bear - except when that debt provides a personal benefit to him.

Then he doesn't care about that debt.

And that ladies and gentlemen shows you the level of hypocrisy in which the Dandy dabbles.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

O'Rourke / Hurd Lame Award

Congressmen Beto O'Rourke and Will Hurd were awarded for being politically civil with one another.

There was a time, certainly before the Trump era, that this was common place. But thanks to Trump, we now award people with lame accolades for stuff that should be common place.

Don't get me wrong, I'm voting for Beto and support him 100%, its just a sad commentary on our political system that this lame award is actually a thing.

This award's lameness is so high I half expected it to be an award given out by Eliot Shapleigh.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Municipal Races: District 1

This is the first in a series of posts about the upcoming municipal races. 

City Representative Peter Svarzbein is up for re-election. He's the most-vulnerable of the incumbent city representatives up for reelection and its very difficult to see how he keeps his seat.

Svarzbein has a major image problem. First, people are going to rightly wonder What has Svarzbein done?

Now what most people care about is stuff like potholes, stop signs, parks, etc. Svarzbein had a major staffing problem for a large part of his term in office. His staffer, who is no longer with his office and rumor has it is now working in some sort of capacity with a potential rival candidate, probably didn't keep track of what was done. For the life of me, I don't understand why he even hired that guy in the first place with absolutely no real relevant staffing experience but that is water under the bridge.

The only thing I can think of Svarzbein marketing is the trolley, but that is problematic for him. First, I think the project was actually something spearheaded by Steve Ortega and second, its not a super popular project. Its got a huge price tag on it and a lot of the older don't-raise-my-taxes-you-kids-get-off-my-grass voters won't be supportive of it.

So Svarzbein has to run like he has a huge target on his back, because well, he does. There are at least three candidates running against him this time, most of which have a pretty good shot at being the next city representative - better shots than Svarzbein does.

Svarzbein isn't going to be able to raise anywhere close to the $90,000 he raised in the last election. And trust me, Svarzbein earned that win last time. That was the race were Forma Group was behind him, and then "had their strings pulled" and ditched him in favor of another candidate. So Forma screwed him before, he'd have to be really stupid to use them again and it would probably end up being a news story if he did.

Word on the street is Svarzbein has $30,000 sitting in the bank for this campaign. He better make that stretch because I'll bet that is going to be about 3/4 of what he raises for this campaign.

But Svarzbein is an incumbent now. He's got a record that can be scrutinized now. Showing up late to events looking like you just rolled out of bed worked when you were a plucky little campaign of an artist trying to overcome the odds and get a spot on city council isn't going to work in a reelection campaign.

Lets look at the rest of the field.

Richard Bonart, a prominent dentist in the area, ran last time and the buzz is that he has $20k ready to dump into the race. But Bonart is going to be Max Grossman's candidate. So Grossman will likely get his sugar daddy from Houston to dump some more money into Bonart. Grossman is out to buy himself a city council and so he's going to make sure his slate of candidates are going to be well-funded. Grossman's biggest problem is his mouth. He loves the spotlight and he is going to be a boat anchor around the neck of every candidate he runs. If Bonart is smart, he'll get the money and shut Grossman up.

Remember Grossman is a HUGE Trump guy and after all the anti-immigrant stuff the administration has done, Grossman is going to be an even bigger lightening rod than he was before.

Carlos Corral is another guy that is running against Svarzbein. He's another film guy, which is what Svarzbein was known as when he started to kick around the idea of running for office, so pardon the pun but we've seen this movie before. I think he's done some political commercials for candidates and he does something with the El Paso Film Festival or Plaza Theater or something like that. Honestly I don't know much about him so I have no idea if he actually knows anything about policy or if he's running because he thinks it would be cool to be a city representative. In this day an age with my email and phone number out there if he hasn't figured out how to send me info about his candidacy then that is a little strange. But who knows, maybe he'll read this and send me some info about him. Without any info, I can't really give you much analysis about him yet - but at the very least Svarzbein won't be the only candidate with a slick presentation with video and other campaign material. The question is how much Corral is going to rely on that medium.

He had a campaign announcement event last week but I haven't heard much about what kind of turnout he had. No idea what kind of money he is dealign with but not having Grossman to weigh him down and a slick presentation (I'm assuming he will have one given his professional work) means he's gonna be someone that should concern the incumbent.

Veronica Frescas is another name that is floating around as a candidate and it looks she's going to be making a formal announcement soon. Frankly, she's the one that should be keeping Svarzbein up at night - if she can get campaign funding. Latina, educated, REALLY smart and an actual track record, she's probably the most formidable candidate as of today in terms of being prepared to take office. She's worked for a ton of non-profits - C.A.S.A., United Way, El Paso Border Children's Mental Health Collaborative, the Empowerment Zone, US Mexico Border Health Commission, GEPAR (governmental affairs director) and a host of other things I can't recall at the moment. She was almost always the public relations director for those entities. That means she knows how to frame a message for media. She's another one that will have a well-packaged presentation. More importantly she's worked on a ton of campaigns. If she gets a handle on field operations and a little cash, she's probably the best positioned to defeat Svarzbein.

The Wild Card. I don't now if its still an option, but there was a lot of talk of Kathleen Stout running for the seat. Dr. Stout would be a very strong opponent. Super likable, well known, probably very little problem getting funding, street cred, etc. But I've heard that she's not considering a run anymore.

Svarzbein's Advantage - A lot of things that people on the westside are upset about, aren't his fault - namely traffic. The westside is the worst place in town to try to get around lately. Its a big flustercuck. But those are TxDOT problems. Svarzbein can overcome that. Most of Svarzbein's problems can be overcome with dressing like an adult who takes his job seriously instead of showing up to meetings wearing sneakers. Although I'll be honest, Svarzbein has really great taste in sneakers. His shoe game is strong.

His biggest advantage is field work. He won because of field work last time. He's the only candidate that has the ability to leverage a strong field operation, today. Everyone else will have to play catch-up or learn on the fly unless they hire someone who knows field, but most of the talent out there is tied up in other campaigns already, thereby multiplying Svarzbein's field advantage.

This will be the most hotly contested race in the city. D8, the other westside seat, also has the potential to get interesting, but not as competitive as D1. This will be the race to watch.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Things That Annoy Me: The Cassandra Hernandez-Brown Edition

If you've read my blog for any length of time you know that hypocrisy is one the many things that gets on my last nerve.

Especially with leaders and ideology.

So here is what annoys me about Cassandra Hernandez-Brown and Annie's List.

Annie's List is an organization that is dedicated to electing women leaders. They put a lot of money and resources behind women candidates. They very frequently conduct training sessions for future candidates and donate funds to their candidates.

Annie's List held one such training recently. As you can see, they tout City Rep Hernandez-Brown in this tweet:

So one would assume that such a candidate, when ascending to office, would be inclined to ya know, support other women leaders.

In the case of District 3 City Rep Cassandra Hernandez-Brown, you'd be wrong.

Remember a while back when the fact that a city with the civil rights record El Paso has still has a street named after Robert E. Lee came to light, there was an opportunity to change the name of the street.

I, at the behest of several Chicano leaders, approached Representative Hernandez-Brown to ask her to consider changing the name of the street from a traitor like Robert E. Lee, to a Chicana civil rights and labor leader, Dolores Huerta.

Well, Brown was never down for the brown on this one.

She was at no point, ever supportive of changing the street name to Dolores Huerta. Now the change would have meant a lot because it would have been changing the street name from a name we should collectively be ashamed even exists in El Paso, to the name of a civil rights leader and the first major Latina leader in the country.

It would have been a fairly easy thing to do. Normally when you change the name of a street its a big hassle because you have to get all the property owners on the street to agree to the name change and it costs a fair amount of money to change your address on all your accounts, ID's, records, stationary, advertising, etc.

But in the case of Robert E. Lee, there was only one address that actually fronted the road. It was a business. Track One Restaurant.

So three guesses who Hernandez-Brown sided with.

The fellow Chicana?

A fellow woman?

A fellow sister in the struggle?

Uh, negative Ghostider.

From the start, Brown was 100% in support of changing the name to what the business owner wanted the name changed to... Track One Road. (Could've been street, drive, blvd, etc I don't recall exactly).

It annoys me that she's touted as a "champion" when she sided with a business interest when given the opportunity to promote a woman who paved the way for Hernandez-Brown.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sad Socorro Saga Part 1

Socorro has been synonymous with corruption for decades, mostly because of the Gandara Clan and people like Dora Oaxaca that put them and kept them in office. Long after the Willies went to jail and Little Jessie Gandara was booted out, that shadow of corruption still haunts that city.

The latest controversy at the City of Socorro involves a new crop of names, but the story is still the same. Its about power and envy.

So here is the latest episode of the telenovela that is Socorro.

The City Manager position in Socorro has always been a lightening rod for some reason. The most controversial figure has been Lorenza Fraire, who apparently was so problematic that even the Gandara's thought she was bad for the city's image and they got rid of her.

I've written about her exploits many times, so use the search feature on the right if you want to go back and get more details but the short of it is that she has been wanting her job back as city manager now for the better part of a DECADE. So she lurks in parking lots and tries to drop information to anyone she can that she thinks will listen to her. Every election cycle she attaches herself to a candidate like a barnacle in an effort to get a majority on council so that she can get back on as the city manager.

Thats her quest.

So awhile back the son of the current city manger was pulled over in a Socorro traffic stop. Fraire saw her opportunity to pounce and so she is the one who leaked the story to the media that the city manager's son was in a traffic stop and implied that the city manager abused her authority to help her son in an effort to smear the city manager right around the time of her contract renewal.

But how did Fraire get tipped off about the stop and get a hold of the video and other info she dropped to the media?

Someone on the inside helped her out with that.

Someone with either a vendetta against the city manager or a compelling reason to get rid of the city manager.

Enter the "investigation" that was recently completed. Socorro Mayor Elia Garcia held a press event yesterday to discuss the findings of the report, though it wasn't released to the public. First, you have to be really concerned in Socorro if there is an "investigation" but the findings aren't made public.

The Mayor was asked about the report and if specific names of current members of council appeared in the report. A city employee acting in the capacity as a spokesman for the city intervened before the mayor could dodge the question herself and indicated that they couldn't release that information because it was a personnel matter.

That ladies and gentlemen is absolute horse shit.

If it involves elected officials, its not a personnel matter. The public has rights to ensure transparency and arguing that its a personnel matter when it involves an elected official is just another way to hide the truth from the public.

The mayor has instituted a new policy that all media is supposed to go through her office now. That should send up major red flags in Socorro anytime someone wants to control the flow of public information in Socorro.

Aside from that, I don't know where she thinks she even has the authority to do so. The members of council serve at the pleasure of the electorate and are NOT subordinate to the mayor's office. Hell, the mayor can't even vote unless there is a tie and there are an odd number of voting reps, so she's essentially powerless.

Stay tuned because there is MUCH more on this issue...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Socorro Mayor & Councilman Screw Coker Residents?

Socorro Mayor Elia Garcia & Councilman Ralph Duran
This is why people hate Socorro City Council.

Apparently Socorro Mayor Elia Garcia and Councilman Ralph Duran are pushing for a very controversial policy to deal with flooding in a specific area in Socorro. Its particularly controversial given that we are hitting the summer rain season and because of a controversial new policy relating to media at the City of Socorro.

Residents on Coker Road have had to deal with flooding for a very long time but the situation has gotten worse over the last few years. The current city council has tried to bounce around the issue for a while now, even kicking the issue down to their city planning commission at one point, rather than deal with the issue themselves.

The City of Socorro has the ability to use eminent domain to purchase the land at fair market value from the home owners, giving them the ability to move to another location. But word in Socorro is that Mayor Elia Garcia and City Councilman Ralph Duran are pushing a policy of using a provision in the law to condemn the property rather than use eminent domain.

What's the difference? Well I'm glad you asked. Under eminent domain, the families get some money for they land and that gives them the means to find another place to live. Under Mayor Garcia's plan, the land would be condemned and that would give the residents 90 days to fix the situation in order to keep their land. There's essentially no way feasible to make their homes overcome the condemnation by the city. Once the 90 days are up and the families aren't able to overcome the condemnation, the city can kick them out, bulldoze the property, and place a lien on the land.

In other words, it would completely screw over the residents who are already in a bad situation. ITs the absolute worst way to deal with the situation.

This is why people hate city council in Socorro. They go out of their way to do the wrong thing rather than do the right thing for the community.

Whats the motivation for Mayor Elia Garcia and Councilman Ralph Duran? So that they can say they saved the city money by not paying for the land.

But here is what makes BOTH of those elected officials look bad. Neither one of them seemed to care about how much money the city was paying out when they weren't members of council. Mayor Garcia tried to TRIPLE her salary as the municipal judge a couple of years ago.

An even bigger hypocrite is Councilman Duran, who has received multiple pay-outs from the city of Socorro, one for around $30k for wait for it...damage to his property!

Here's a screenshot from the settlement document proving he very happily took money from the city while he's trying to prevent others from having their property purchased by the City of Socorro.

Here's the bigger piece of irony. I did an open records request last month, which is how I acquired the settlement paperwork above, and it turns out that Duran had a complaint lodged against him because of the structural condition of his home!

Word on the streets in Soco-loco is that Mayor Garcia instituted a new policy relating to the media, which I can't understand how its legal. Essentially the policy is that all interviews relating to the city of Socorro are done by Mayor Garcia. Members of council don't answer to the mayor, they are independently elected officials that answer to the voters so there has to be major first amendment issues with this policy. But word is that Mayor Garcia usually asks for the questions from the media in advance.

She is apparently doing a press conference or availability later this afternoon on another issue. Lets see if she takes questions on the Coker Road issue.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cop & Kids Video

By now most of you have seen the viral video of an El Paso police officer pulling out a weapon and pointing it at a crowd of kids during an arrest. The cops' actions were in no way reasonable or proportionate to the situation.

And as typical with these scenarios, Facebook and the rest of social media has simplified this incident down to its dumbest common denominator: You're either with cops or against them.

And as you'd expect there's an "I Support Cops" meme that everyone thinks shows what a great citizen and American you are.

But lets speak a little truth to power shall we? Identifying a mistake made by an officer doesn't mean you're against cops. It means you want better from them because we are the safest community in the country.

If you take that rationale out to its illogical conclusion, anyone who ever criticized the quarterback of their favorite NFL franchise for throwing an interception, or bumbling a play would therefore automatically be a fan of the opposing team.

Stupid, right?

But that is what all these "I heart Cops" memers are implying all over social media.

The reality is this - those little kids in the video need a good ol' fashioned ass-whooping for the way they behaved. Those kids are a reflection of their parents and their parents and the elders in their family should be completely embarrassed by their behavior. They have failed those kids and those kids need to learn a health respect for authority and need a lesson on how to comport themselves in society.

But they should never be taught to not question authority.

Those kids were awful and I don't know anyone that saw the video below that doesn't agree. The worst of the crowd was the mother, who is now all over television trying to rewrite history like she was some do-gooder. She was an awful example to her own children and an awful example of how a parent should behave in that situation.

I guarantee you if I was in that situation as a kid, I'd want the cops to get me in the back of a unit as quickly as possible because my parents would beat the brown off of me for acting like that. The cops would be pulling a gun on them because my dad would have his belt off and my mom would have a chancla in her hand and I'd be getting a Summer Slam-style beat down from my parents for acting like an ass in public.

However, the facts are what the facts are. There was a crowd of disrespectful little brats who were frankly playing off of each other and trying to show off (something you often do in the barrio to cement your place amongst your peers) and a mother who is, well, a terrible mother.

But as bad as the behavior of the children and the mother were, the facts are it was a group of unarmed children that were name-calling a police officer.

They are kids. They do dumb things because they are kids and are learning. There isn't a one of you reading this that hasn't done something as a kid that you don't regret.



The officer was in a situation he didn't want to be in. It certainly doesn't feel good when people are calling you names. It was probably hot that day and you've got kids calling you names and an adult female shouting at you.

But threatening deadly force was neither reasonable nor proportionate against a group of unarmed children that were name-calling.

If it were, then there would be a lot of kindergarten teachers pulling out heat every time their classroom gets unruly right around nap time.

Criticism of one cop doesn't mean you're anti-cop and if you think that, then there's something wrong with you. I mean that - there is something seriously wrong with you if you believe that you should blindly and universally support a police force under any circumstance.

Ask yourselves, what if he had discharged that weapon? Would you be okay with a cop shooting at unarmed children? Then why are you okay with him threatening to use deadly force?

Hell EPPD can't even use pepper spray on a minor deliberately. As a matter of policy they recognize the difference between a child and an adult.

But another disturbing thing in the video is the officer who goes after the person filming the video. He was recording the incident. That is 100% legal. Sure he was saying stupid stuff, but we have a little thing called the First Amendment. He wasn't breaking any laws and he wasn't interfering with the situation, he was far enough back to catch video.

The officer turns toward him only after the kid says he's going to "put a complaint" on them. Instantly he's grabbed by the officer and cuffed. THAT is something to be concerned about. Its abuse of authority.

Its also a sign that the cops had lost their cool. They are humans, it happens. But they are fully-trained peace officers. Their job is to deescalate a situation, not make it worse. At the end of the video, more officers arrive and frankly, they show the professionalism of the EPPD we are used to seeing. The situation was much worse when they arrived because the kids and mom were even more agitated because the officer had already pulled the gun on the kids. They arrived on the scene and were much cooler and immediately started to deescalate the situation.

If you don't think the officer that pulled the gun needs more training, then what do you think of the other officers?

Put your memes away, - being critical of a cop who pulls out a gun on children isn't being anti cop. I know a lot of officers who can count the number of times in their career they've pulled their weapon from their holster and it was never at a kid.

Believe it or not, you can be sophisticated enough to think the kids were being bad, the mom is awful, and the cop was wrong to pull a gun on children all at the same time.

The bigger issue, as pointed out by my friend Mark Alvarado, is how is that community repaired from this incident? There has to be a reason the crowd felt the way they did. And police should be able to do their jobs freely. Community policing is about trust. This is where leadership comes into play and that is what is needed right now.

Also I should acknowledge that EPPD is handling this better than they've handled situations in the past. Remember a while back when they were blocking people from their social media pages if someone was critical of the force?

They aren't doing that anymore.