Monday, October 20, 2014

Tropicana Low-Income Housing Protest

I was downtown earlier today and happened to be near Senator Rodriguez's office when I noticed a protest going on so I stopped to ask a few questions about it.

These folks live in what one protester characterized as “an exclusive area” in east El Paso. Its the neighborhood that is north of Rojas between Zaragoza and Loop 375.

I'm gonna look into this much more comprehensively in a later post, but I wanted to post this quick interview to give you an idea of what I'm working on because I find protests interesting.

I think they are protesting in the wrong place and should be working through their city reps office, in this case Representative Ordaz's office if they want the project to go away.

The short of it is that these folks don't want a low-income housing community put near their area and thats why they are protesting. They indicate a concern about their property values going down, the local schools being at capacity, traffic and concerns over increased crime.

I'll do some fact-checking on this and check with the offices the protesters mentioned. 

More to come.

I Honestly Had No Idea He Was Running

Ben Mendoza, another perennial candidate is on the ballot in November.

Proving just how rusty I am at the whole blogging thing, I didn't even know he was a candidate.

That's my bad.

He is running for House District 77 against incumbent Marisa Marquez. He has less of a chance of winning than Manny Hinojosa does of being the next District Clerk. 

I found out Mendoza was running when I was at the Republican forum the other night and I saw a business card he was passing around advertising his candidacy. 

He is apparently running as an independent.

Friday, October 17, 2014

JP Interviews About Wedding Fee Revenue

After the debate last night I caught up with each of the candidates for the JP race on the westside to ask them a question about the money that JP's collect performing weddings.

JP's can collect a fee to perform weddings (as can judges) and they are not obligated to turn any of that money over to the county. At a time with commissioner's have to struggle to find funding sources I thought I'd inquire about the fee.

For background, many JPs don't charge anything for some groups like GI's. But they frequently perform the weddings during business hours at the county-funded offices. County-funded staff have to support the ceremonies. County resources are expended on performing the ceremonies and if it weren't for the fact that they were elected by county constituents, they JPs and judges wouldn't have the power to perform the ceremony and get that supplemental income.

So why not provide some tax payers a little relief?

BTW, some of the JP's have wedding stuff set up in their offices for photo-ops frequently charge different fees if they have to perform a ceremony on a weekend or out of the office.

Here's what both candidates had to say:

Times Editorial Board Whacks Libertarians

The El Paso Liberty peeps have been struggling to find a home now for many years. They are active and savvy. But the Republicans really don't accept them and they aren't quite strong enough to stand on their own.

Libertarians are all generally pretty well informed, except the occasional leanings towards conspiracy theories. Some of them still won't let the birth certificate thing go and a few think 9-11 was an inside job.

They almost all think they are smarter than everyone else. Which is probably why I like them. They are actually pretty good at poking fun at themselves which is something you have to appreciate.

But for a group of people so smart, they have let something devastating to their local credibility happen. They have been defined by the shallow-end of their political gene pool.

The El Paso Times made their endorsements of candidates and they took a moment to whack the two Libertarians that are candidates.

And the worst thing about it for the liberty movement in El Paso is that the Times was 100% right. About Libertarian candidate for District Clerk Manny Hinojosa the Times said he "seems to be running to make points about various issues not connected to the clerk's office."

Which is true. When you engage in conversation with him you will find little substance related to the actual office he is seeking. When he does get in the neighborhood of issues directly related to the office, he doesn't offer details. I'm speaking of budgetary issues. He frequently says things like he will cut the budget in half. Thats a huge and newsworthy position if he could actually articulate just exactly how he is planning on making that happen. But he doesn't. Because its an empty platitude and he doesn't really have a plan to accomplish such a fete. The reality is that the DC office already operates at a significantly lower budget under Norma Favela than it did under Gilbert Sanchez.

The one thing that Hinojosa does get right is the morale. Having been at the County I can honestly say there are morale issues with DC staff. Executive-level leadership don't usually know there are morale issues because well, who wants to tell the boss they don't like working for her?

Libertarian candidate for State Rep Alejandro Lozano was also whacked by the Times' Editorial Board. About Lozano's candidacy they wrote, "Libertarian J. Alejandro Lozano is a perennial candidate who shows little knowledge of issues the Legislature will tackle next year."

That's pretty gacho.

Especially considering that Lozano is a former elected official who should have deep policy knowledge. There was no mention of former Lozano and Cobos staffer, Libertarian for Congress candidate Jaime O. Perez in the piece.

But in fairness to the Times, they might have forgot he was running.

Libertarians, you can be mad about the endorsements but what was said was pretty accurate. And frankly, its your own fault for not rejecting the people that ultimately become the face of the Libertarians in El Paso.

West El Paso Republican Women Debate

Last night was the debate for the two major races on the westside – the JP race and the county commissioner 4 race.

I'll do a few posts that summarize the debates but I wanted to write this quick note about the actual debate.

Despite the fact that it was run by one of the auxiliaries of the El Paso GOP the debate featured both Democrats and Republicans.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking it was going to turn in to a political food-fight. Well you'd be wrong.

The debate featured fair and probing questions of the candidates and the West El Paso Republican Women were gracious hosts. Even had homemade cookies.

Becky Hermosillo is the head of WEPRW and is probably one of the top two moderators in town that I've seen host debates over the years. She's fair, controls the program well, and keeps the show rolling.

It was certainly a tale of two debates. The first debate was JP candidates – Democratic nominee Sergio Coronado and Republican nominee Kelly Dickson. Both candidates are older than their PCT 4 colleagues and both are attorneys. The JP debate was civil and extremely cordial. Even when they had the opportunity to lock horns by asking a question of their opponent, they didn't get rough at all.

Hermosillo had planned to have them debate first anyway, but that worked out well for Coronado because he had to leave early to celebrate the birthday of his daughter who turned 21 last night. So shoutout to Coronado for showing up to a debate hosted by the opposite party on his daughter's birthday.

There were some shots fired in the second debate and you can tell that the Republicans aren't used to the same kind of hard contrasts between opponents that we are used to in our side of the aisle and you can tell a few of them were a little uncomfortable. Their discomfort made me chuckle because they had that uncomfortable look on their face like when a relative no one really likes shows up for the holidays.

Chairman and Mrs. Homsley were in attendance along with other prominent Republicans like Judge Bill Hicks. County Commissioner-elect David Stout, a Democrat, showed up to watch the debate as well. YISD Trustee Shane Haggerty was also in attendance.

Democratic comish candidate Julio Diaz showed up with a big entourage as well. It ended up being about 30% of the audience and included his campaign manager, a photog, a videographer, a couple of communications people, and family. They took up the entire first row and there were still others scattered in the rest of the audience.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Musical Chairs

Its stupid that this is even a topic, but it is and I must therefore chime in.

First things first. Lets stop pretending that there is anyone at fault here but City Rep Lily Limon. Country/pop music star Taylor Swift has become famous for writing songs about ex-boyfriends who have done her wrong. Well after a few songs like that, maybe the problem isn't with the ex-boyfriends...

That is the same situation here with city council. After multiple members of city council have asked to move, maybe the problem isn't with those members of council...

Seriously, what (in this case who) is the common denominator? 

As a Chicano from the barrio, I'm sorta pre-programed to root for people like Limon. An educated strong Latina woman. I happen to be a product of a strong Latina woman. Hell Limon had Little Joe in her campaign commercials! I should be her biggest cheerleader.

But instead, I find myself embarrassed by her conduct. She's an educator for God's sake. She doesn't know how to keep quiet while someone else is speaking? I'm pretty sure there's some former Limon students floating around that probably had their parents called when they did the same thing Limon does to her colleagues in class.

Way to set the example.

We've all seen the loud, brash, abrasive, do-what-I-want-or-I'll-throw-a-tantrum act before. It doesn't end well.

Don't get me wrong, I'll tell it like it is. If Limon were out there leading some great Chicano cause, advocating for the poor and disenfranchised, raising hell to protect the little guy/gal, I'd be cutting her a whole lotta slack. 

God knows I've done it in the past. 

I've looked the other way on the politics of personality before if I thought the leader was doing the right thing. You know the saying, no one likes to watch sausage being made.

But lets be real. Limon doesn't fight for those things. 

She fights for crappy lights that makes Charlie Brown's Christmas tree look like a blinged-out rap video with strippers iced-out, and ridiculously fat raises for her staff. 

So bottom line is Limon acts up and the white ladies (City Reps Niland and Lily) are uncomfortable and asked to be moved. 

Representative Ordaz isn't white and seems to be able to tolerate Limon pretty well. Although that might be because Ordaz has a super-hyper and annoying dog that doesn't know how to behave either so she probably has a high threshold.

Seriously, that effing dog bit me in the junk on more than one occasion. I hate that dog.

I honestly expected a whole lot more from the Honey Badger. I don't get how Niland can take on big power companies but can't handle Limon. Niland needs to go get her seat back. Give Limon a little taste of her own medicine.

You know how we handle someone in the barrio who fouls a lot when we play basketball? We foul them back harder. You gotta make your own calls anyway.

So sit right next to her and emulate her behavior. What is she gonna do? Run and complain to Mayor Leeser about the very behavior she started?

I assure you, nothing will drive her more crazy than having to sit between Ordaz and the Honey Badger.

Or she could always ask Ordaz to bring Jack to the meeting. That'll teach her. Jack is the dog by the way.

Seating at City Council Doesn't Matter Anyway

All of this is really a stupid conversation anyway. There's nothing in the charter that says where the kids have to sit in class. They conduct electronic voting anyway. They all vote at once. Its not sequential public voting like it is at the county.

At the city everyone votes and once everyone votes privately, the results are then shown to the public.

If you want to talk stupid seating arrangements, look at the County. From left to right the seating is as follows, Precinct 3, Precinct 1, County Judge, Precinct 2, Precinct 4. But when they vote its Precinct 3, then Precinct 1, then Precinct 2, then Precinct 4, and then the County Judge.

No one knows why it is set up that way either. 

I asked that question about a year and a half ago. Sequential voting means a little more political gamesmanship because you can see how people vote on an issue before your turn to vote comes up. 

I'm glad to see with all the pressing issues facing this community like domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, disease prevention, economic development, and the provision of services that we are focusing on important stuff like where the white ladies on council sit and the freeway decorations at Airway.

To borrow a phrase from The Juice, Keep El Paso Backward...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Westside Commish/JP Candidates Square Off Tomorrow Night

Kelly Dickson (Republican) - Sergio Coronado (Democratic)
The West El Paso Republican Women will be hosting a Candidate Information Forum tomorrow night at the Westside Regional Command Center,

The race will feature both Republican and Democratic candidates for the County Commissioner Precinct 4 race as well as the JP race.

The JP race is particularly interesting because its the first time in a very long time, maybe ever, that the race will feature two actual attorneys in the November election.

Kelly Dickson is the Republican nominee for the post and Sergio Coronado is the Democratic nominee for the job.

Becky Hermosillo, head of the West El Paso Republican Women, has confirmed that all four candidates have confirmed that they will participate in the forum. The other two candidates are Republican nominee for County Commissioner Precinct 4 Andrew Haggerty and Democratic nominee for Precinct 4 Julio Diaz.

For more information about the event click on this link.

George P. Bush is in Town

I know most people don't care, but George P. Bush is in town.

I don't know if its because they purposely keep it a secret whenever one of their big shots comes into town or if its just because they suck at getting the word out, but for whatever reason no one really knows about it.

There are three other bloggers, all of whom are Republicans that could help them get the word out. Not sure why they don't ask them to help them get the word out.

But at any rate, he's in town. I don't really know where or what the schedule is, but lets be real no one cares. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Things Just Got Real in Precinct 4 County Commissioner Race

I missed this last week but someone mentioned it to me earlier today so I went to check it out for myself. Apparently the Precinct 4 County Commissioner's race is getting interesting.

Republican candidate Andrew Haggerty went on the offensive against Democratic candidate Julio Diaz in an interview conducted by Karla Mariscal of the El Paso Telemundo affiliate.

If you recall I wrote a piece awhile back about how Julio Diaz won the Democratic Primary by out-working his opponent and benefiting from the fact that she really fumbled the leveraging of a negative message against Diaz.

Apparently Andrew Haggerty learned from that mistake and at least appears to be flirting with what has the potential to be an effective negative message. It remains to be seen how its done and if there is enough time for Haggerty to leverage the message.

Here's a link to Haggerty's interview. Haggerty is asked what the biggest difference between he and Diaz is and Haggerty said business experience and trust. Haggerty alleges that Diaz has had a couple of failed business ventures. He goes on to talk about trust, which is the part that I thought was really interesting. Diaz (very wisely I might add) never really talks about issues or what he will do as commissioner. I know that bothers a lot of people, but honestly its pretty smart. But one of the few times he does get specific is when it comes to ethics.

Thats where Haggerty whacked him. Haggerty basically made the point that Diaz talks about ethics but alleges that Diaz failed to file his campaign finance reports on time (twice from what Haggety says) and further alleges that there were filed incorrectly. He also says that Diaz took two corporate contributions as well. Not major infractions by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it undermines Diaz's ethics message.

Frankly what I'm most impressed with is the fact that Haggerty did it in a Spanish-language interview. That took balls because Diaz is certainly going to have the home field advantage in that type of interview. If Haggerty is going to continue to leverage that message then it needs to be a platform more broad than Spanish media and Facebook. If the race were in the valley then I could see the Spanish-language stations being the main platform for that attack line but we are talking about a westside race.

Diaz had the advantage of being interviewed after Haggerty (click here for link to interview) but appeared to not be ready for the question. When asked by Mariscal (she wasn't specific but alluded to what Haggerty alleged) about what Haggerty said, Diaz deflected. He doesn't really address the issue at all, but his deflection wasn't terrible.

Now that I think about it, he did the best he could with that issue. There's not much room for him to explain his way out of that one.

Early voting starts soon and I think there are still a couple of debates left so it remains to be seen if this was just a flash in the pan or if this is the start of a sharper message against Diaz.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Limon's Cheat Sheet

I'll be honest, I don't know the Texas pledge. I've always thought it was a little commie to be pledging to a state anyway.

But I know Texas forces that crap on students.

So I found it mildly entertaining when a staffer sent me this photo.

Limon, a long-time school administrator, apparently has a cheat sheet to remember the words.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Socorro Mayor Comes Out

Socorro Mayor Jesus Ruiz comes out in support of marriage equality. Ruiz, who is one of the youngest mayors in Texas, has joined a handful of other mayors of municipalities across the state to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

This is noteworthy not only because Texas is a red state but also because there is a common misconception that people in the valley are against gay marriage because of the fact that they are largely Catholic. 

Socorro is the second-largest municipality in El Paso County.