Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Chavez Factor?

This ain't a dis track. I'm just gonna tell it like it is.

Former State Rep Norma Chavez is running for congress, which you undoubtedly know by now. So lets talk about the implications of a Chavez candidacy.

She suffered the worst self-inflicted political wound in history and it led to her ouster from local politics. No one should feel sorry for her about that either. No one forced her to make bigoted comments about her opponent.

The fact that she still has the audacity to compare someone's sexuality with being a biker shows that she really hasn't learned anything. A person's sexuality is how they are oriented and should never be equated with a leisure activity like being a biker. Thats just flat-out ignorant.

I knew she would say that it was taken out of context. Well there is no context in the world that would justify that kind of blatant attack.

Its also not the only time she raise her opponent's sexuality.

But in that video, I showed all the context of what transpired and it was called "GBU" for a reason.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

So lets talk about the Chavez campaign - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good.

When Norma Chavez says she's the most qualified and most experienced candidate in the field of congressional candidates, she's not wrong. No other candidate has legislated. Escobar to a far greater extend than Fenenbock, and with bigger consequences, has policy experience.

But both Escobar's and Fenenbock's policy experience is a different dynamic. Its being the top official on a small board.

Chavez is the only candidate that knows what its like to be in a legislative environment. She's the only one that has experience in navigating that process. She is the only one with experience dealing with party dynamics. She knows what its like to author, sponsor, and guide a bill through the legislative process.

And her press release properly points out the fact that she has that experience that no one else running can match:

Norma Chavez was an accomplished legislator and El Paso woman of many of firsts:
  1. First Latina/Hispanic female elected to the Texas Legislature from El Paso 
  2. First Latina/Hispanic female from El Paso to serve as a Chair of a standing committee in the Texas House of Representative, (Chair, Border & International Affairs Committee)
  3. First Latina/Hispanic female from El Paso to serve on Appropriations
  4. First and only Latina/Hispanic female in Texas to serve as Vice Chair of the Calendars Committee, the committee that determines what bills are considered on the House Floor, and a Speaker Appointment Committee
  5. First Latina/Hispanic female from El Paso to serve as Vice-Chair of Human Resources, and Rules and Resolutions
Campaigning is the intersection of timing and opportunity. Rare is the political animal that gets two bites at the apple, but Norma Chavez was able to get a second-chance at a political life following her ungraceful demise.

She ran against the woman that ousted her and was able to beat her to make a run-off election to face the now-House District 76 State Representative Cesar Blanco. And honestly, if there was ever a state representative that deserved the title "The People's Rep", its Cesar Blanco.

Chavez was trounced by Blanco and solidly rejected by voters that once supported her so strongly she was called bullet-proof.

But she beat Gonzalez and that was the vindication she was looking for.

There's also a lot of great things Chavez has done that were away from the cameras and out of the goodness of her heart. When the women from Mujer Obrera were having a hard time, she gave them the dignity of work. I saw it with my own eyes. She gave women a means to earn some money. I sat there and watched her pull out a checkbook after a tardeada for her campaign and pay a line of women who had staffed the event. They needed that money for their families and Norma was there to help.

And now, like many of us, she helps care for her parents. Not an easy or glamorous job but something that many in our culture do.

She was also really great at fostering young talent. Norma collected all of (us) the misfits that the old guard didn't want around. She mentored people and put them to work.

Chavez spoke to keeping her candidacy focused on issues when she filed, which was a surprise to many and will require a lot of self discipline.

The Bad

Yet again, Norma Chavez has to start a campaign with an apology. When you have to do that, that is sign number one you shouldn't be running.

Sadly for every good story about Norma Chavez, there are 10 stories about her temper, her inability to get along with people, her blind rage and complete lack of emotional control.

For every person that she helped, gave a hand to, uplifted, or provided assistance to, there were 10 other people she berated, belittled, yelled at, or humiliated.

There were several big legislative wins, and trust me you only need to hear Chavez talk for about 1 minute before she starts reminding everyone about all the things she did that she doesn't think she got enough credit for, but there were also some big losses.

I have been told by legislators, not their staff, flunkies or supporters, but actual legislators - that they didn't vote for the gaming bills she sponsored because she was the one who was carrying the bill. She'll go to her grave calling that fake news, but they told me that themselves.

So had any other member of the delegation carried the bill, it would've passed and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo would have had a robust gaming operation for many years.

Instead she refused to let anyone else help with that bill. She refused to let anyone else have the ability to pass it lest the credit not go to her.

But then has the AUDACITY to take a campaign contribution from a tribe from Oklahoma who wanted to kill gaming in Texas because it meant people in North Texas would go to their casinos instead.

And Chavez's defense? Well everyone else does it, why shouldn't I?

She was asked at her filing event about her reputation for feuding with people and she attempted to rewrite history with a narrative worthy of an episode of Fantasy Island. She said you don't get to chair this committee, or be on that committee, or do this or that, if you can't get along with people.

Puro pedo.

You get on committees based on seniority, guile, and your ability to strong-arm people on the fence.

You also don't get nearly every single elected official in the county working against you to help your opponent if you get along with people.

And what Chavez fails to understand the most, is that none of that damage she has done goes away because she went on an apology tour.

People might forgive, but they don't forget. And trust me from personal experience, the woman has done things to people personally that even if they forgive her, they will always remember them.

Now this surprise announcement has left her candidates like Ruben Nuñez and Patsy Patiño hanging and candidates aren't happy about it.

The Ugly

"Lesbian gay woman." "U R not my friend." She will forever be haunted by those words.

Especially the lesbian gay woman thing.

It was the most unnecessary and petty attack ever unleashed on an opponent. But more than that, it was an eye-opening experience at the kind of person Chavez was. It was win at all cost for her. She demonstrated there was nothing she wouldn't say in order to keep the seat.

It is a low point in El Paso politics that is on par with the Gandaras all going to jail for public corruption or drug-running.

Then in the immediate aftermath of her loss, Chavez went through a very dark period of her life where she was vile and vindictive to anyone she felt harmed her, and to some people that never did a damn thing to her. She began insulting people terribly, like making fun of Congressman O'Rourke and often referring him to Bay-toe O'Rourke and even County Commissioner Vince Perez who never did anything to her.

That is why she had to go on an apology tour eventually and try to make amends with a whole lot of people.

When then-State Rep Naomi Gonzalez got a DUI, Norma Chavez did something that many in the valley will never forget. She cut in front of line out of a sense of entitlement to run for her seat again. City Rep Eddie Holguin, who had always ridden shotgun for Chavez, was next in line to run for that seat. But Norma cut in front of him. She felt what she wanted was more important.

Trust me, Eddie Holguin wouldn't have to struggle to get 2,000 votes.

That is how she repays his loyalty, by cutting in front of him. And it doesn't stop there, even as recently as a couple of months ago when Dolores Huerta was here Norma did was makes us all in political circles say all-too-regularly, "its Norma being Norma". They also say that about Donald Trump, which is funny to me. Anywho, she made sure she could soak up as much praise as she could for Dolores being in town.

Truth is, Eddie Holguin did the heavy lifting. But you don't hear about Eddie asking for credit, jumping in front of every camera he can, or trying to limit access to Dolores when she was here.

And thats how she treats her most loyal supporter! I was there the night Norma lost her seat. Eddie Holguin cried. That is how loyal of a friend and supporter he was, and she's shat on him regularly.


Lets wrap this up with some analysis.

Several years ago when Shapleigh retired, there was a poll that was done. Norma didn't do well in that poll and that is why she didn't run for the seat and instead ran for reelection. That poll showed she didn't do well outside of HD 76.

Well guess what? She hasn't gotten more popular since that poll. The only way Chavez gets popular enough to be a factor in the congressional race is if she jumps in front of a bullet meant for the Pope or if Khalid does a duo with her on his next album.

Possibly if she took over Miner football and led them to a bowl game.


The bottom line is that the last time Chavez was on the ballot she struggled to get 2,000 people to go and cast a vote for her.

And what has changed since then? Well she now has none of her old loyal lieutenants, the people that would relentlessly knock on doors for her and put up with her shit.

She has no where near the access to money that she did at one point. She's gonna run around using words like "grassroots" which is code for "broke".

I don't even understand where she's going to get the money to pay the boys at Leo Marketing who are now along for the ride because they chose to jump on that ship. They will now be defined on how this election turns out, which isn't likely to be good.

Chavez's announcement took everyone by surprise - mostly because they couldn't see a scenario where even Norma could believe she is viable. I can tell you with 100% certainty that people like Eddie Holguin, who was the only elected official in the county that stood by her through the dark times, didn't even know. I'm the one who told them about her running. They didn't believe me.

They thought I was making a bad joke. It wasn't until I had a press release in my hand that anyone (myself included) believed it.

So that begged the question, who was behind this? Many believe this is a coordinated effort by Chavez to help Fenenbock's candidacy. But after having time to sleep on it, some of us are starting to change our minds.

While we don't put it past Fenenbock to try do something like that, Norma isn't one that would allow herself to be used.

But seeing Fenenbock's glowing praise for Norma in the media certainly makes you think. Especially because the people that are helping Norma's campaign are Hector Montes and Stephanie Townsend Allala.

Montes in particular is known for his hatred of Escobar. He's still at AFSCME so 3 guesses who isn't getting their endorsement...

The STA/Hector Montes team are making calls trying to drum up support for Chavez's campaign.

The bottom line is that this isn't really complicated. There are two types of voters in this election - those that want Escobar to win and those that want her to lose.  There is nothing about Norma Chavez that bites into Escobar's base. They couldn't be more different if they tried.

Chavez further divides the anti-Escobar crowd. That is the bottom line.

She gives Chicanos that don't like Escobar someone to vote for that can't bring themselves to vote for a rich, white, Republican like Fenenbock. So in the irony of all ironies, she ends up hurting Fenenbock more than Escobar.

Supporters will say she has name ID and she's Chicana and that will make her a factor. Well just because they know your name, doesn't mean its a good thing. She hasn't gotten more popular since that senatorial poll.

She's not going to have anywhere near the money necessary to pay staff, get enough mail out, signs, walkers, lit, etc that the real congressional candidates are doing. She has far less time and none of the field talent so she's not even going to reach that many doors.

But, remember earlier when I said she was making fun of Congressman O'Rourke's name by referring to him as Bay-toe?

Well the self-described Chicana should be the first person pushing back against Fenenbock's repeated cultural appropriation. I actually can't wait to see Fenenbock try a Si Se Puede chant now. Chavez will either put an end to that shit in a strong and abrupt way, or she will be silent on it.

Either reaction will be interesting.

And lets be real, Fenenbock loves cultural appropriation and has gotten so used to it that I don't think she can stop if she wanted to. I half expected her to be in front of the Virgen de Guadalupe mural yesterday offering roses and dressed like a matachin with a bunch of staffers around her taking pictures of her drinking champurrado from a street vendor last night.

But I heard she was at the Democratic Party holiday event last night instead, so then I thought she might be holding a guitar sitting on a stool with some black shades singing Feliz Navidad like Jose Feliciano himself.

Wonder if Fenenbock will still brag about beating "Hispanic" candidates now and if Chavez will actually call her out on it?

Chavez thinks there's no reason she should "sit this election out" because women across the country are deciding to run for office. The fact that there are already two in the congressional race and she still makes that argument for getting into the race shows that Norma is still Norma and its still all about her.

She still thinks things are owed to her. She says this is her last at-bat.

No, the last election was her last at-bat. She defeated a rival, made the run-off and had a moral victory. She re-won a claim to a legacy.

But she struggled to get 30% of the vote. She won't get anywhere near that amount now. She will likely place 4th behind Enrique Garcia and slightly ahead of Carrillo or Tilghman, which ever ends up running 5th.

Frankly, I'm not buying the "New Norma" thing anymore. This is the most Norma thing ever. Its very old Norma. So its a matter of time because she starts trying to take out chunks of flesh from Escobar, especially because that is Norma's comfort zone.

Sooner or later, Norma's temper is going to kick in and she'll regress back to the Norma everyone knows. Expect the "New Norma" to last until the first time she gets hit by someone, and then its back to a political food fight.

And that is why I use the analogy of an old prize fighter. Ali, Leonard, Chavez, De La Hoya, Hopkins, Frasier, Foreman, Pac-Man; pick your comparison. They all have one thing in common. They stayed around when they should have retired. Their once great record was tarnished by getting knocked out, out-classed, or quitting on the stool.

Why did they always do that? Why has it happened so many times that it is now a cliche?

In Latin its called superbia.


She is sacrificing a hard-fought legacy she could be proud of because her own pride can't be controlled.

And that it is why its one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

The Path to Victory

There is none. She's not a viable candidate.

County Historic Commission Eliminates Diversity Rules

One of the biggest criticisms of the El Paso County Historic Commission is that it has been almost entirely white for so many years.

Seriously, going to a meeting looked like being at a meeting of the Alabama Republican Party.

It was only because the last commission had screwed up so badly that they Commissioner's Court revisited the EPCHC and injected new blood. That has been a much-needed improvement of the Commission and as one of the few people that monitor what they do regularly, its important to pass on to you and the media the development at last night's meeting.

It seemed a mundane task, but there were two particular items of note that were stripped from the Bylaws - one being the requirement that the Commissioner represent a diverse group of El Pasoans, and two, that the EPCHC can't do anything that the Commissioner's Court doesn't want them to.

Both provisions are needed because of actions that body has taken in the past.

First, the diversity thing, because its frankly the most important thing. EPCHC decides what markers get put where in this county. In other words, they decide what history will be told in this county. For years the white majority of members, and I mean the organization was almost exclusively white, would choose to recognize the history of this county from the perspective they want.

In other words, cowboys and saloons and that stuff that is only a small one-dimensional part of this county's history.

So the EPCHC took a giant step backward and its an overt sign that they want things back to the way they used to be. Now more than ever its time for Commissioner's Court to be vigilant over the EPCHC to ensure that the Board doesn't go back to a white's only club.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Who Filed Yesterday & Highlights

Click this link to go to the local party's website and see all the filings as of yesterday. George Ybarra and Lily Limón, under the leadership of Chairwoman Holguin have done a great job of keeping information updated.

Special shout out to George, Lily, and Ayle Sarinana for working well on such a hectic day. Having to get stuff done with me, Eddie Holguin, and Pee Wee in the room being loud and obnoxious could not have been easy. Especially me and Eddie, we were laughing and joking all day. But everyone got their work done despite us distractions. 

Except Eddie Holguin. He had one job to do and failed!

So here are some quick highlights. 

Embattled Judge Mike Herrera, who is currently a District Court Judge, filed to run for a County Court. Why take a step down on the food chain? Mostly because it doesn't affect him in any way but positive. 

Frankly, this and two other judicial filings are really important news stories but lets be honest, everyone more interested in the train wreck. 

Herrera is one of the judges that was disciplined for his conduct related to his own divorce proceeding being in his court, so its really ballsy that he has the nerve to ask voters for another job. But he can literally have is cake and eat it too. District Court judges are basically the only elected officials that the Resign to Run rule doesn't apply to, so he's got nothing to lose. 

Which is complete bullshit. 

But the reason he is doing it is fairly transparent. The vato wants to draw another tax payer funded retirement check. He's a candidate now, the media should be shoving a mic in his face and asking about it. 

The other embattled judge in the courthouse right now is Judge Luis Aguilar. Lawyers smell blood in the water and Aguilar now has 3 opponents. Roberto Ramos, Felix Castanon, and Selena Solis have all filed as of yesterday. Two candidates, Castanon and Solis both filed within the last 30 minutes of the deadline. 

Aguilar is the most vulnerable judge on the ballot right now, but only to the extent that his opponents have the courage to raise his record. One candidate did nothing with it, which is why I suspect the other two jumped into he race. They have to be willing to make an issue of it and while his reprimand is really long and most voters will never see it or go through it, there are several very damaging quotes in the document. The timing of its release was devastating for Aguilar's reelection chances. 

But again, this is all theoretical. If it doesn't get leveraged or is leveraged last minute and sloppily like Alyssa Perez did it last time, he's gonna win. 

Speaking of Alyssa Perez, she filed within the last hour of the deadline as well to run for her uncle GG's seat. She will face Judge Monique Velarde in the primary for that seat. Perez is going to have the support of the law enforcement unions because she's their lawyer. They showed up with her when she filed yesterday. They also backed her and funded her when she lost to Luis Aguilar last election. 

GG didn't file! One of the most shocking developments was that Gonzalez Garcia did not file for reelection. A rumor started last week that he was not going to file for his seat and instead file to run against Justice Gina Palafox, and Alyssa Perez would file for his seat, I guess to keep it in the family so to speak. I reached out to Perez before the filing deadline to confirm or deny and she refused to answer, so I took that as confirmation.

But GG never filed for the Court of Appeals race. I have a theory as to why. Since the both of them (GG and Perez) were trying to be cute and make this a last minute thing, which would help neither of them in any case, GG was supposed to file for the appellate seat but it is a multi-county race. For those you have to file in Austin. He may not of known that until it was too late. By the time Perez was filing it was already after 6pm in Austin, so even if GG was there, his deadline was really 5pm.

So he either made the biggest screw up in recent political memory, or he chose the world's worst retirement announcement. 


Norma Chavez filed for congress. You know that already. But I'll do a comprehensive piece on it later today. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Fling Update; Chavez to File for Congress

Norma Chavez is running for congress. She's going to file at the Democratic Party today at 4:30pm.

Clearly its a coordinated effort with Dori Fenenbock's campaign to try to siphon off votes from Escobar's campaign.

Silly strategy. Thats just further splitting Escobar hater votes. But its fun to watch.

Why Chavez would want to further damage her legacy is beyond me, but she is apparently consulting with several campaigns including Ruben Nuñez, Patsy Patiño, Jay Hulings, and Ricardo Samaniego among others. So not sure if she is leaving them hanging or trying to run for office and consult at the same time.

Back to analogies about boxers. Here we go again, with a fighter that doesn't know she's done. Norma isn't running to win. Norma isn't going to answer any substantive questions. Norma is going to do one thing - attack Escobar for Fenenbock.

Chavez should have preserved her legacy. She got a measure of vindication by defeating Naomi Gonzalez.

But contrary to what you will probably be hearing from here to the end of the election, Norma no longer has a strong support base.

Don't believe me? Check out her performance in her last election. She took a major beatdown in an area where she was once known as the People's Rep.

Remember when she didn't run for Senator right before Gonzalez took her out? The reason is, as I wrote back then, she didn't have the support. They ran a poll and it wasn't good. Guess what? That isn't going to get any better. She will finish somewhere above Tilghman and below Enrique Garcia. She's not even going to siphon off that many votes.

And that will be her legacy. Instead of going out with her head held high with a measure of vindication and a leadership legacy, she's going to go out like this. Frankly, its sad to see because I for one, genuinely thought she had changed. She's still using politics for payback.

As an aside, I was at Democratic Party Headquarters when the rumors, and then news came in. No one believed me, including people close to her. It was a complete surprise to everyone there when it was finally confirmed.

I'm sure the views on one of my YouTube videos is gonna go through the roof again....

This is the most Norma thing she's ever done. Which is why this is gonna be fun. Welcome back to politics Norma...

Filing Deadline - What to Expect

In a few hours, the deadline to file for a place on the Democratic Primary ballot will pass. I've been at Democratic Party Headquarters for the last few days as people come in to file for their spot.

According to George Ybarra who is pretty much the day-to-day backbone of the Party, there are only about 4 candidates that have declared their candidacy that haven't actually filed yet, which is somewhat out of the norm.

So far everyone has come in writing checks, with two notable exceptions - Enrique Garcia who turned in 64 pages of signatures with a little over 520 verified signatures on them. Which is slightly more than he needs to get a place on the ballot. Its likely that there are more valid signatures, but I think they stopped counting once he hit the number, so that number could be as high as 600.

The other candidate to file with signatures was Kathryn Lucero. She only needed around 220, but she turned in about 33% more than the required number and they were gathered in less than a week. The other two candidates in the race, incumbent John Chatman and Lucilla Najera, had also been circulating petitions for a spot on the ballot but either couldn't get enough people to sign it, or they just changed their mind and paid the $1000 fee. Rumor has it that Lucero's campaign was able to get signatures from Chatman and Najera's own neighbors on her petitions.

Just kidding, its not a rumor, she did.

At this point, its unlikely that there will be any other surprise filings in the non-judicial races. I know people are really looking hard at what Leeser does, but I don't think he's gonna file for anything.

If there are any surprises, its gonna be in the judicial races. Here's the thing most people don't understand about last-minute filings...unless you are an incumbent, or Oscar Leeser, and you haven't started campaigning yet and file on the last day, you aren't going to win.

Hate to break it to you, but winnings takes a big investment in time and work. Sliding in the last minute makes it much more difficult (and expensive) to win.

Some other notable filings are the judicial candidates. Monique Velarde filed for the 210th District Court, but so far incumbent Gonzalo Garcia or GG has he is more commonly known, has not filed as of yet. I think he's the only incumbent that hasn't done so yet. So word around the courthouse is that he's not going to file for reelection and instead is going to take on Justice Gina Palafox for her seat on the Court of Appeals. I have no idea what on earth would make him want to do that, but he's really got an uphill battle taking on someone with her name ID. Also, it will be interesting to see when he actually files. Since he presumably has a court to run, it would have to be during lunch or after the work day.

I've tried to confirm the second half of the rumor but to no avail so far, but the other part of the rumor is that GG's niece Alyssa Perez will run for the seat he currently occupies in the event that he makes the jump. Perez previously ran against embattled Judge Luis Aguilar.

Speaking of Aguilar, with all the stuff hanging over his head right now, she's like easily defeat him this time. It makes more sense for her to take on an embattled incumbent and another male opponent than taking on a Latina candidate that is already a judge. The smart play is for her to take on Aguilar. From what I hear around the courthouse, people would probably throw money her way if she got in that race.

I also wouldn't rile out Mike Herrera throwing his hat in the ring to run for a District Court seat to get that extra retirement check. They have been talking about that happening for a couple of weeks now around the courthouse.

It'll be interesting to see if Judges Bonnie Rangel or Marcos Lizarraga end up with opponents. There was some talk over the weekend about candidates considering a stab at those two races. Rangel seems particularly vulnerable given that weird video that popped up recently.

Judges Dominguez, Chew, Anchondo, Kurita, Gamboa, and Alvarez won't likely get opponents. Judges Maria Salas Mendoza and Alex Gonzalez won't get opponents either. They are too well liked and in the case of Salas Mendoza, she's sitting on a big pile of campaign money. She had signs made in the event she drew an opponent and word is they are ready to be put up immediately should she actually draw an opponent. But seriously, she just introduced Dolores Huerta at a private fundraiser, who the hell is going to take on a popular Latina judge with street cred on this election cycle? Seriously, homegirl is from Riverside, went to Harvard, and has the most interesting life story you have never heard about. She overcame some serious hardship in high school.

The JP races to me are pretty interesting. JP3 is the seat held by Judge Aponte and she is retiring. That seat is coveted because its pretty much a marriage machine. JPs like doing weddings because they make a shit ton of money, keep it all, don't report any of it to commissioner's court, and none of it goes back to tax payers. That race has a basketball team size of field pursuing the seat. I'll interview them all and post video so you can make your choice if you live in that area.

As I said before, the JPs on the eastside and lower valley are have a problem on their hands. They are both incumbents and therefore can't afford to be away from their courts too much because they will get criticism from their opponents for it, who are most definitely making sure that it is business as usual at the courts. They are both facing two Latinas that have started early and each of the respective races have at least one campaign that knows what they are doing.

JP 6 is interesting if only for the fact that it is the only area with two Justices of the Peace. Judge Ruben Lujan isn't getting an opponent, but Nina Serna has two opponents and has yet to file.

The District Clerk and County Clerk probably aren't getting opponents, it looks like the candidate who was going to take on Favela is going to wait until next cycle and start early.

And finally circling back to the County Judge race, there is some talk that there may be a surprise entrance into that race, but like I said, its really hard to see how anyone short of an Oscar Leeser type candidate can get into the race and it be a meaningful effort.

I'll see what information I can get from the GOP and do a piece on their side of the ticket today.

Thats all for now, today is gonna be fun so follow me on Twitter to stay connected today for the new candidate filings throughout the day. Click here to follow me on Twitter. I'll be using the above hashtag.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Robinson Files for Commissioner 4

It was apparently a big secret and I didn’t hear even a peep about it before Friday. Former City Rep Carl Robinson filed to take on Commissioner Andrew Haggerty in the general election next November. 

Robinson has an uphill battle but frankly I think he can do it if he catches a couple of breaks and focuses on a strong ground game. 

Julio Diaz worked really hard last time, but he fell short. Mostly for a couple of reasons, 1) money and 2) he wasn’t well known before he started campaigning. 

Robinson doesn’t have either problem. Robinson is a name people know and he has the potential to raise money. I was at Democratic Party Headquarters today when everything went down today. I heard mumblings of some pretty interesting endorsements and financial support. 

This move also explains why he was recognized by the Tejano Democrats last month at their annual dinner. Looks like this may have been something planned for a short while prior to today. 

Andrew Haggerty is vulnerable and Robinson has a way with winning races no one thinks he can win. All the Haggerty’s are vulnerable at this point and I think they are the only ones that don’t understand that. The fact that they didn’t call get behind Shane Haggerty when he ran for city council is going to come back to haunt them. Andrew Haggerty is less vulnerable than the rest of them because he has demographics on his side but in a general election with Beto and Cruz on the ticket, and the first chance voters have to vote since Trump was elected, Haggerty could be in real trouble. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fenenbock Flub or Fib?

Here's an interesting little conversation. In the Northeast Democrats candidate forum, candidate Enrique Garcia raised the issue of Dori Fenenbock correcting him when he said he was the only attorney running for the congressional seat.

Personally, I don't think that is an asset, but thats just me. 

Anywho, Fenenbock corrected him and said she was an attorney. It caught my attention because Garcia made a comment that she hadn't passed the bar in Texas or Oklahoma. It was obviously a touchy subject for Fenenbock because as he's talking about it, she physically puts her hands on him, which I found as odd body language. 

Here's the video of the exchange.

So I checked with ALL 50 freaking states to see what the facts are. I didn't check with the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, etc because well damn it, you people don't pay me for the time I put into this stuff, so 50 states is enough!

After checking with all 50 states, there wasn't one single state that Dori Fenenbock had an active license in, which is interesting because she used the term "I'm a licensed attorney". She apparently had an active license to practice law at some point in Colorado, but that was the only state and her status is "inactive" according to the state official I spoke with.

So I checked on social media to find out what that term actually met. It basically means that a licensed attorney is someone who passed the bar exam or was admitted into a particular jurisdiction. 

At some point, she passed the bar in Colorado apparently. But her status is inactive. There isn't a courtroom in America that she can actually walk into today and legally practice law.

Whats more interesting is that despite what she says in the above video, when she was a candidate for trustee a couple of years ago, she admitted that she had never practiced law. 

Don't believe me? Well, I thought you might not. So I dusted off some interview I did that was in the ol' LionStar archives. Its included in the fun little video below...

Unless she practiced law in Colorado while she was a trustee, and then she went "inactive", then she doesn't appear to have ever actually practiced law by her own admission. But who knows, maybe she did. 

So did she misspeak or mislead? I guess you decide whether you think her claim of being a "licensed attorney" is misleading or accurate. 

But hey, I promised a video right? 

Well I remember how neat it was that the Fenenbock campaign spliced together a bunch of footage of Escobar and then set it to some Fleetwood Mac. Well, imitation is the highest form of flattery, que no?

Also, for those of you into sharing stuff on social media, you can use this link.

Monday, December 4, 2017

El Paso Political Figure Jaime O. Perez Passes Away

I won't pretend Jaime O. Perez and I were friends, because we weren't.

Other than having the same first name we had almost nothing in common other than both being good friends with his former boss Eddie Holguin.

JOP was a Democrat at some point but he was mostly a Republican and Libertarian.

Perez and I feuded and did so pretty strongly.

But I have to acknowledge a couple things about the guy.

First, Jaime fought for and advocated for what he believed in. He was a voice for a small group of people but he was a tireless, passionate, and articulate advocate for what they believe. You have to admire someone who will take a stand no matter how unpopular, often against the establishment in the Republican Party or in city leadership, and passionate advocate for their position even if you don't agree with their position.

Because it takes a level of courage not everyone has. Again, I almost never agreed with anything he stood for politically, but I admired the fact that he was willing to stand up for his beliefs.

Second, JOP had the courage of his convictions (different from mine as they may have been), to do more than just talk about them in a bar or around a barber shop. He ran for office. He put himself and his beliefs out there for public scrutiny and debate.

Often he was ridiculed for his beliefs and behavior. And despite knowing he wasn't everyone's cup of tea, he still had the courage to advocate for what he believed in.

Obviously that is something I can personally identify with. It ain't easy being the most unpopular guy in the room and still stand on your beliefs and principles. Its easier to cower in fear, keep your mouth shut, and don't rock the boat. Its harder to stand up.

Perez ran for several offices including mayor and congress and was ready to run for United States Senate in the upcoming primary. He was never a viable candidate but he shaped the debate.

His run for County Judge a few years ago was a pretty good example of how JOP stayed on the issues. He was up against County Judge Veronica Escobar and despite the fact that she was a member of a political slate that he had long opposed, he never strayed from a debate on the issues. It never got personal.

His former boss and longtime friend Eddie Holguin broke the news of JOP's passing this evening.
“My good friend Jaime Perez passed away at 6:26 pm this evening. He was surrounded by family and friends. He will be missed and El Paso lost a true champion that always fought for what was right and fought the good fight. I will always be grateful for his friendship and support. Rest In Peace my friend.” - Former City Rep Eddie Holguin
Perez suffered an aneurism last Thursday evening and was in critical conduction until earlier this evening when Perez was removed for life support. 

No word yet on services but I will provide an update as that information comes available. 

Felix Castañón Fundraiser

As a courtesy to all candidates that request it, I post their campaign announcements.

Quick Hits - Sidestepping Campaign Laws

A few different blog items that I am just throwing in to one post.

In probably the most egregious example of a candidates side-stepping campaign laws I have ever seen, current Justice of the Peace for Precinct 4 (the Eastside) Jesus Urenda put a campaign sign for his reelection on a Constable's vehicle and had them drive him in the Sun Bowl Parade.

Here is a pic of the signs (they were on multiple vehicles) affixed to constable patrol vehicles.

Judge Urenda is in the far vehicle waving to the crowd.

Here's a closer look at the signs. As you can see, all he did was tape some blue painter's masking tape to the parts of his sign that said "re-elect" and cover up the disclaimers at the bottom.

It is against campaign laws to use public property like a law enforcement vehicle for campaign purposes. Covering up a couple of parts of your campaign sign doesn't alleviate him of the problems. I'm sure someone will likely file an ethics complaint over this little stunt.

This is worse than not know the law for a Justice of the Peace, especially when he isn't a lawyer and one of the challengers is.

So you have to ask yourself why a judge would do something like that, why a judge would be willing to risk legal trouble during campaign season. The answer is simple, fear makes you do a lot of things. Urenda knows he's in trouble. He knows he has two challengers and at least one of his opponents already had signs go up around the eastside the weekend before last.

This is an incumbent Justice of the Peace knowing the law, and then taking very obvious steps to side-step the law.

Not a good trait for someone who's job it is to uphold the law.

1 Week Away

The filing deadline looms just one week away and so far only two people have filed to run for County Judge. This is the quietest run for County Judge that I can recall and is likely a function of the quality of candidates in the field being less than stellar. Only former El Paso Mayor John Cook and Richard Samaniego have filed their candidacy for the position so far.

I'm expecting this week to be pretty busy with people filing to run for office, but the date everyone has circled on their calendar is December 11 because that is the final day to file for office. In other words, that is the day everyone is waiting to see if former El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser files to run for Congress.

Speaking of El Paso Mayors, Mayor Margo's security detail is straight-up over the top waste of money. Although to be fair to Margo, he didn't start the silly detail thing, that was actually Leeser. Apparently the security detail doesn't accompany them to hoity toity westside restaurants and prevents fights between the (former) Mayor and Octegenarians, but I digress.

Anywho, its an unnecessary waste of money for a figurehead who is actually the least powerful member of city council.

I noticed the detail at the City's Festival of Lights thing downtown the other night. I happened to be working an event nearby and strolled through the plazita to check things out. I've said this before but I'll repeat myself - I hate the new light display in the plaza. Its a perfect example of what critics have been saying about there being a concerted effort to make downtown look less Mexican. Seriously, its a white Christmas y'all. And I don't mean snow. the lights downtown are almost devoid of any color. Its just a sterile pre-packaged collection of about a million white lights strung around. The kind of display you'd see at any strip mall in America.

Memmer the cool manger with the wise men, the animals, the shepherds, Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus? The one with the hay on the ground, yeah well thats gone. Remember all the cool colored lights and all the ladies selling tamales and champurado from their little carts around the plazita? Gone.

Theres a menorah in the plaza now, which is great for the small Jewish community in El Paso, but theres no traditional Christmas thing going on anymore.

Its like that cousin Memo you have that went off to college, married into a white family and now goes by Bill and thinks his shit don't stink now because he went to Stanford.

And no, I'm not saying it should have a donkey and be playing Donde Esta Santa Claus from the speakers 24/7. I'm saying that an upgrade or refreshing of the display could've been done in such a way that it still reflects the character of El Paso.

Not this sterile presentation we have now.

But, fun story...the LIGHTS WENT OUT on the night of the event.

Look, parking is one big clusterfuck downtown and its hard to see how all this investment in downtown is truly going to be realized if we can't solve something basic like parking. Because trust me, its End of Days bad to park downtown for this festival.

But shout out to the repair team who got everything up and running again within a few minutes.

Fenenbock Files

Word around the Party is that Fenenbock's people were freaked out about her poor performance at the Northeast Democrats endorsement debate and are likely to avoid any more candidate forums. That might be why one of her campaign operatives lost his mind during a debate that was set-up in her favor to begin with.

A source in her campaign has indicated that people are starting to be concerned about Leeser getting in to the race.

Apparently Fenenbock was expecting to run the table on the Democratic Party organization endorsements because most of them can essentially be purchased by paying for a bunch of memberships. In Fenenbock's defense, thats been a criticism of those organizations for years. Getting the endorsements of the Democratic organizations was a big part of her plan because of her Republican voting history and her spouses ties to Trump and Cruz.

But Leeser is really popular among the party regulars and would undercut any hopes Fenenbock has of trying to get endorsements of all the Democratic Party auxiliaries.

Also, Fenenbock filed for Congress officially. She joins Escobar and Tilghman as the only two that have filed so far. The funny thing is that the people that joined her the day to file were former Congressman Reyes and his supporters or her Republican relatives. Thats a microcosm of her campaign if I ever saw one.

Congressman Reyes. The guy that couldn't be saved by two presidents and Little Joe.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Slap on the Wrist; Slap in the Face

I waited a long time to write this post because I have given it a lot of careful thought. This is one of those posts that I wrestle with and put a lot of time into, but will get less traffic than a post about kittens.

The reality of the fact that we now live in bizarro world (politically speaking) were almost nothing appears to make sense and there is so much uncertainty was the reason I decided to go ahead and write my thoughts down about the local judiciary.

Judicial races are under more scrutiny in this election cycle than others perhaps because of several factors in which the judiciary branch has taken a black eye in El Paso. That is why I chose the imagery I chose for this post - because ALL judges are being impacted by the actions of a few judges.

We've all seen the video by Judge Bonnie Rangel that was part novela, part cheesy defense lawyer commercial, part self-inflicted campaign attack ad.

Judge Mike Herrera had his own divorce in his own court for a very long amount of time. He's also rumored to be considering a stab at one of the County Court at Law courts in order to double-dip on retirement from the state and retirement from the county.

But perhaps the biggest black-eye to the judiciary in recent memory is the findings against District Judge Luis Aguilar of the 243rd District Court. B

efore we go further, this matter is closed. He's had his day in court, so to speak.

I personally really like Judge Aguilar and many of you probably know him from his many appearances on the Buzz Adams Morning Show on KLAQ.

Aguilar is a tough guy. A Marine's Marine. He's really tough on lawyers (which is what led to the complaints) and he's tough on people that get convicted. I've seen him in action. He's no-nonsense.

However, facts are facts. Allegations came to light against him having to do with how he treats people, use of his judicial power, and either not, or improperly, recusing himself from cases.

But personal feelings aside, there were a ton of findings that came out through their self-policing process that stemmed from nine original complaints filed mostly by out-of-town attorneys that had some experience in Judge Aguilar's court. Those complaints begat an investigation and a series of findings.

I mean a lot.

In a 65 point document from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Commission outlines a series of issues with Judge Aguilar including how he improperly handled recusals, should have recused himself and didn't, several contempt of court orders over-turned, issued an order for a prominent El Paso attorney to pay a contempt fine but did so in a way that made it impossible for the fine to be paid in a timely manner.

In his appearance before the State Commission on Judicial conduct Aguilar indicated that he would no longer proceed with show cause hearings, contempt proceedings, or issue arrest warrants for lawyers that are late for proceedings. That, to me at least, is a tacit admission that he shouldn't have been doing so.

The document specifically highlights the opinion of Judge Bañales, who was hearing a case involving a contempt charge issues by Judge Aguilar and his statement in the opinion he issued on the case was something that voters should know.

That is a pretty scathing sentiment coming from a judge about another judge.

And frankly, since we elect judges in this state, it would be naive to think that this report does not have dire political consequences for Aguilar. This report is why Aguilar is going to be in real election trouble this go-around if he ends up with a strong challenger. That report from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is full of quotes that can be pulled from it that would make a powerful message in a mailer or door hanger against Aguilar.

More on the political implications later.

One thing that was particularly disturbing about the report was the inclusion of complaints about how the judge dealt with the public, that is to say people serving - or part of the selection process for serving - on a jury.

Here's a screen shot of a couple of examples of what I'm referring to:

When you combine it with another incident highlighted in another part of the report about an attorney that was scheduled to have a c-section because of complications due to pregnancy around the time Judge Aguilar was trying to hold her in contempt of court, and it paints a very bad picture. A picture that not only reflects on Aguilar, but on the judiciary as a whole.

But this is the part where I'm probably gonna hurt some feelings, and frankly I'm unapologetic about that.

Here's the conclusion of the report:

Though the court issued a conclusion that I can only describe as gacho - do you know what their big punishment was for a judge that had 9 complaints leveled, probably many more instances that no one ever formally complained about, and a wide scale investigation conducted that lead to 60+ items in the report?

More education.

Seriously, I'm not making that up. He got the legal community equivalent of after-school detention. Thats it. Basically got off scot free. Hell, he got off even lighter than Jesse Gandara did in Judge Gonzalo Garcia's court!

So lets summarize this here - it took complaints largely from out-of-town attorneys of some pretty egregious behavior to even get the ball rolling and the Commission says that Aguilar "..willfully and persistently failed to comply with applicable law..." and all he got was extra education?

That sends a terrible message to the community. It sends the message that judges are above the law. It says that they will protect their own. Because I guarantee you, if any of us were in front of a judge who was telling use that we willfully and persistently failed to comply with applicable law, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be getting after school detention.

Elected officials should be held to a higher standard. Judges, should be held to a standard even higher than elected officials.

The slap on the wrist, was a slap in the face to local El Paso voters.

The slap on the wrist sends a chilling message to attorneys that if they take the step to make a complaint, put themselves out on the limb, that the judge gets a slap on the wrist and they still have to practice in his court.

This type of decision, while scathing in its text, lacks teeth and undermines the public's confidence in the judiciary.

Political Ramifications

Despite the toothless rebuke of Judge Aguilar, it most definitely has the ability to end his career as a judge - provided that his opponent or opponents will actually take advantage of the opportunity to educate voters on why electing judges is important.

Aguilar has already filed for reelection in the March primary and he has an opponent. The opponent was there long before the story came out so there is no word yet as to whether other opponents will pop up.

But the political implications of this issue will only become reality if there is a candidate that is willing to leverage the facts against Aguilar.

That can prove problematic.

Aguilar has dealt with campaign storms before and last election cycle was able to fend off a challenge from a younger, smart, female challenger. The attack came late though.

If it is to be successful this time, the opponent or opponents need to make his record an issue EARLY and not late. Once he is defined by this report, he will have to spend time, treasure, and talent trying to undo the damage.

The question is whether or not someone will actually do it.

The deadline to file for the March primary is December 11th.