Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The EPISD Minute?

So there is a segment on KTSM's news broadcast that features something called "The EPISD Minute". Here's a link to the latest one.

There are often little segments that are really just a commercial disguised as a news segment that stations sell to whoever wants to purchase the airtime.

EPISD is closing down schools because they don't have the money to keep them open but there is a frivolous vanity segment that the district is spending how much money on?

Its seriously the most tone-deaf thing in the world for a district with financial problems to be blowing money on a vanity segment on TV when barrio kids are going to be shoved into classes together because you know that shit ain't gonna happen on the westside.

I don't recall when it started, but an open records request for how much money the district spent on the segment and for how long should provide some answers.

David Candelaria is the general manager at KTSM and sources indicate that he's good pals with Superintendent Cabrera and former board member Dori Fenenbock.

Fenenbock is apparently going through some changes in her life right now following a split with her spouse and growing conversations about her running for State Senator against Jose Rodriguez. It is unclear if she's going to run as a Democrat or a Republican for that seat, but if you start to see stories featuring Fenenbock on KTSM soon, it wouldn't shock me.

Anywho, I'll follow up and tell you what the dollar amount is being spent on that little vanity project on KTSM.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if those EPISD segments will feature any information about the school closures?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Shout out to Munzer!

Calm Down, Biden Isn't a Front-Runner

Beto is going to run for President.

Biden isn't the front-runner. We are going to have a big field of presidential candidates, we are going to have a rigorous debate in our primary. No one has ever gone end zone-to-endzone as the front-runner in a contested field of Democratic candidates.

Don't confuse the most well-known Democrat in the field with being a front-runner. As soon as people get a good whiff of Beto, Kamala, and whichever Castro brother it is that is running - along with two sitting senators that have already thrown their hats in the ring, Ol' Uncle Joe is going to run out of steam and won't be there at the finish line.

There is too much youth and vigor in this race. And quite frankly, young and hopeful candidates that inspire support is the exact contrast we need to present to voters as the antidote to Trump.

Don't get me wrong - there is a very juvenile part of my brain that would love to see the scrappy guy from Scranton in a debate with Trump where he figuratively punches that rich boy in his stomach, takes his lunch money, and talks about his momma. Hell I hope Uncle Joe stays in the race long enough to do that to Trump because if there's any entitled rich boy that needs his ass whooped by a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, its Trump.

But I think America wants something other than a wise-cracking crass candidate that thinks with his balls or her ovaries instead of their brain.

Also, he's old.

I just hate that its going to get ugly in the primary. I hate that we are going to see the same script play out over and over - the old school establishment Clintonistas that are pretty much diet Republicans versus the young progressive wing that hasn't paid their dues yet but feels entitled to have their candidate win and if that candidate doesn't they are going to kick and scream.

Thats why you need a candidate that can inspire people. I think that comes down to Beto, Kamala, and whichever Castro brother is running (come on, be honest....does it REALLY matter which one it is?).

But ya know what?

I won't be mad if its Uncle Joe. I won't be mad if its Elizabeth Warren. I won't be mad if its a candidate we haven't heard of yet.

I'll be happy with any Democrat that is running against Trump and I'll work my ass off for whoever that is.

Well, except Hillary. I won't be happy about her, I won't work my ass off for her.

But I'd vote for her because even Hillary is still better than Trump.

Seriously Hillary, please don't run. For the good of the Party, for the good of the Country, please...for once...put us above your ambition. Your time has passed, let someone else carry the torch forward.

Like Beto:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Socorro Mayor Under Investigation

The week before last, the city council voted unanimously to have an outside investigation conducted to look into matters relating to Mayor Elia Garcia.

Again showing the level of transparency synonymous of the City with a Mission, there were almost no details released as to specifics of the investigation. Apparently their city council hasn't learned from the last time there was an investigation of their mayor about being transparent with the community.

But aside for making the same blunder again, the fact that it was a unanimous vote to conduct the investigation is a pretty big development. Mayor Garcia has a very close ally on council in Ralph Duran, and even he voted in favor of the investigation.

However sources within the city of Socorro indicate that word around the water cooler is that the investigation is related to the court case I've written about in which Garcia (an attorney) took on one of her own constituents as a client and against her own police department.

Many people thought that having an attorney as mayor was going to be a major upgrade for Socorro but that turns out to have been a bust. Even with an attorney the mayor's office is still a point of controversy.

It is unclear as to what the specific ramifications of the investigation are, but in previous investigations surrounding mayors, the end result was usually removal from office. Obviously that would be yet another blow to the public confidence in Socorro city government but it could have some other ramifications for Mayor Elia Garcia.

If this investigation does surround the aforementioned court case, depending on what the investigation says, there could be some discipline leveled against Garcia. It could range from absolutely nothing to having her license to practice law in jeopardy.

If - and we don't know the specifics because council hasn't indicated what the investigation is looking into - there are any findings related to abuse of authority (possibly acting as mayor and an attorney for a party simultaneously) then there could be criminal charges.

The point is, we just don't know. Again, an investigation could result in absolutely nothing or it could involve serious criminal charges. Socorro residents are left wondering until the investigation is completed.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Noe Support

Its not getting a lot of coverage but the race for HD 79 has some really interesting developments, one of which is how remarkable it is that Dr. Michiel Noe appears to be having a major problem getting any traction of support.

Art Fierro's social media platform has been pretty much releasing a new endorsement every day. If you go over the list, you almost wonder who is left to endorse Fierro. Noe I think has two endorsements. Fierro released more than that in one day this week.

But its not just the sheer number of endorsements that Fierro has over Noe, but it is also WHO is endorsing him. As I have mentioned previously, endorsements don't necessarily indicate who is going to win - but the fact that at least three, possibly more, sitting members of city council are endorsing Fierro over Noe says something.

So far only one member of council has come out to support Noe, which is City Rep Henry Rivera, who is married to Noe's campaign operative, Dora Oaxaca-Rivera.

All of Fierro's colleagues are supporting his bid, so the fact that several members of council that actually served with Noe are urging voters to support Fierro INSTEAD of Noe is a big deal.

Three former city representatives that also served with Noe are supporting Fierro as well. Neither of the former mayors that have served with Dr. Noe have given an indication that they are supporting Noe either.

That means the overwhelming majority of people that have served with Noe are urging people to vote for Art Fierro.

You all have read this blog before, you know what I'm about to say...


Putting the colleagues aside for a moment, it is even more significant that the police officer's union is supporting Fierro.

Noe has touted his emphasis on public safety in his campaign material, so the fact that the law enforcement professionals that served while Noe was on council are also not supporting Noe is really bad. Think about it, the only City Rep that is publicly supporting him used to be an officer in that union. I'm sure Dora worked that union pretty hard for the endorsement and it still went to Fierro.

That is pretty damn significant.

The people that have worked with Noe as a policy maker are overwhelmingly urging people to vote for someone else. That should be a major red flag with voters.

People that know Noe, say no to Noe. Ya know?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

My Bad, I was wrong about Cassandra Hernandez...

I try really hard to be factually accurate and when I get it wrong, I have no problem correcting the record. So I have to correct two errors I made over the last month about City Rep Cassandra Hernandez.

First, I erroneously identified her as the City Rep for District 7 when she is the City Rep for District 3. Second, I mentioned that she was removed from the MPO yesterday.

That is correct, but I didn't give the whole story and that isn't fair to Rep Hernandez. So my bad, let me clear the record.

Rep Hernandez was actually replaced on a few boards, rather than just the MPO. Rep Hernandez deserves accuracy as much as anyone else and I should have been more accurate about how things went down at city council the other day.

I got it wrong and I try hard to get it right. So mea culpa - Hernandez is now off of most, if not all the boards she was appointed to - not just the MPO.

My bad. I'll try harder to get things right in the future and not be in such a rush to blog something until I have actually gathered as much of the facts available as possible.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Biggest Thing No One is Talking About

There was an item at city council that no one is talking about but had it been any other city rep than Cassandra Hernandez, it would have made news.

City Representative Cassandra Hernandez was unceremoniously and abruptly removed off of the MPO at council yesterday. No one said a thing about it. It was really hush-hush and there was no discussion.

The MPO is a board that city reps fight to get on because it is so influential and important. I can't recall an instance where a city representative was removed from the MPO in the middle of their term and when it wasn't a change in mayors.

Why it isn't being discussed is a mystery to me, but there must have been a reason that led to this sudden change because it certainly wasn't because she wanted to be off the MPO. She was taken off.

The question is, why?

Fierro Fundraiser

Art Fierro had his fundraiser last night and I went to check it out. It was held at Landry's which is where a lot of fundraisers for politicos are held. During the height of the Reyes - Beto campaign a few years ago I went to a fundraiser Congressman Reyes held there.

There weren't half as many people at Reyes' fundraiser last night as there were for Fierro's fundraiser. People couldn't actually fit inside the room and there was an overflow of people outside when he was speaking.

I didn't get a good look at everyone that attended and I was late so I probably missed a few people but it was pretty much a roster of people from all the "cliques" in El Paso. There were a couple of union bosses there, one from law enforcement and one from a teacher's union, several judges, school board trustees, constables, the County Attorney, the District Attorney, Justices of the Peace, and Democratic Party officials like officers from the Eastside Democrats, Tejano Democrats, Black El Paso Democrats and a bunch of precinct chairs.

And interestingly, colleagues of former City Rep Michiel Noe, Fierro's opponent. Which if you have a significant number of city reps that come out in support of Fierro over their former colleague, that is a pretty big slap in Noe's face and it says a lot about his ability to work with people.

Which goes back to those comments he made in that very first article about the race for HD 79. The first thing Noe did was attack Fierro and it rubbed people the wrong way.

Let me explain...its one thing to attack someone who a) has it coming b) when there is an actual issue to attack on and c) when its someone who people dislike.

It is a whole other thing to attack someone just because the rest of the delegation endorsed him. See here's the thing about Art Fierro. You can pretty much pick any elected official or political figure in El Paso and they will have a group of people that don't like them. You're always gonna have a group of haters, no matter who you are.

But in all the years of covering El Paso's political scene, which is longer than anyone else in this town by a long shot, I have never come across someone who genuinely dislikes Art Fierro. He's seriously one of the most well-liked people I can think of in politics.

That is a pretty sharp contrast when you put him up against Michiel Noe. Noe and I agree on policy quite a bit as I have mentioned before. But Noe is a doctor and used to being the boss. He doesn't like not being the head white guy in charge. So he can be a bit of a bull in a china shop when he feels he's right on an issue.

Also, quick sidebar. His campaign made sure they included "Dr." on his signs...but they didn't think to include the word Democrat on his sign. There's no strategic reason for the omission, so it was either because he doesn't want to identify as a Democrat and somehow things identifying as a doctor is more of a factor to voters (I don't know why he'd think that), or it was a big time screw-up. Either way, funny as hell to me.

Fierro has been an elected official longer than Noe and hasn't developed that reputation of abrasiveness. Even when people disagree with Art, they don't dislike Art and that is a big difference between the two candidates. Art Fierro took on that clique criticism from Noe last night in his speech making the point to enumerate the various sectors of support he has from teachers to law enforcement, to business, to community activists and said he was quite proud to be a part of that clique.

If last night was any indication, there's a lot of people that want to be part of Art's clique.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Noe Show - Eastside Dems Endorsement

It could be a concern about fielding questions about his political affiliation, but in a bit of a surprising development Dr. Michiel Noe was a "no-show" last night at the Eastside Democrats meeting.

The organization unanimously endorsed El Paso Community College Trustee Art Fierro for the position. Being the only auxiliary of the Democratic Party on the Eastside, the endorsement is the most important endorsement of this brief election season.

Interestingly, the Chair of the Eastside Democrats is former City Representative Emma Acosta. She was not in attendance at the meeting. She and Dr. Noe served as colleagues on the El Paso City Council. Her former staffer Dora Oaxaca is also a former staffer of Dr. Noe and is working on his campaign, so Acosta's absence was likely strategic.

But it wasn't unnoticed.

Noe Democrat?

For his entire political career Dr. Noe has been under a cloud of suspicion about his political affiliation. At one point at a political function Noe mentioned voting Republican at some point earlier in his life.

To be fair to Dr. Noe, his voting record in Texas doesn't show that he has voted in any Republican primary elections.

However there have been documents that have surfaced that show Dr. Noe donated to Republicans causes. Here is a video from an appearance before the El Paso Young Democrats in which I asked him point blank about the contributions. He acknowledges making a financial contribution to a GOP organization that advocates for tort reform.

That has been a major issue in the state legislature and explains where most of his campaign dollars will likely come from.

Tort reform limits the ability of how much working class families can recoup when they are harmed.

The year of that contribution (2010) was particularly interesting because that was the Tea Party Revolution election cycle. That is a major sore spot for Democrats.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Political Shake-up on the Rez

The Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo had a major leadership shake-up last week and it couldn't have come at a more precarious time for the Tiguas.

The tribe has important legislation at the federal level - which is why they backed Republican Will Hurd over Democrat Gina Ortiz-Jones. Hurd is the one carrying the ball for the Pueblo on that legislation and the YDSP was the margin of victory for Hurd. Had they not voted for him, he would have lost.

They also have important economic development issues with the City of El Paso in the works right now as well.

All of that is up in the air now given the change in leadership. Not necessarily a sign that any of that is going away, but with an entirely new group of leaders, what exactly will happen with these important issues is certainly in question.

Tribal Tradition

Let me take a quick moment to bring you up to speed on how tribal government works with the YSDP. I've written about it before but it has been a while and some of you may not remember or may not have seen it.

So once a year on New Year's Eve, the adult male members of the Pueblo get together in the Tusla (its in the Ysleta area of El Paso) and gather for their tribal elections. There is a traditional body of government which is headed by the Cacique (Chief). The Cacique is always an elder and holds the position for life. Other traditional positions include the Aguacíl (Sheriff) and the Capitán de Guerra (War Captain) - which is more of a Medicine Man type of position in that they are charged with keeping cultural traditions.

The government body of the Pueblo is headed up by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Council Members.

It is a little complicated but there really isn't a hierarchy per se between the two bodies, except that the Cacique is the actual head of the Pueblo despite their role being primarily traditional and has final say on anything they want to weigh-in on, but those moments are rare. It is usually understood that the Governor is the person that is in charge of the day-to-day activities and business of the Pueblo.

The Governor and Council direct policy and Pueblo business. They are the ones that advocate for the Pueblo at the Federal, State, and Municipal levels.

These traditions have lasted for hundreds of years and long before they gained federal recognition.

The big difference in how they operate is that they have an election ANNUALLY. So there is no term of service like you would find in other levels of government. They aren't elected for a 4 year or 2 year term. They serve for one year at a time and that's it.

So this last New Year's Eve, the Governor, Lt Governor, and almost the entire council was voted out, and an entire new set of leaders was elected.

Steady Hand

Carlos Hisa has been a steady hand for the Pueblo for at least the last decade serving as the Lt. Governor or Governor over that period of time. The rest of the leadership has come and gone but Hisa has always remained as a solid leader for the Pueblo. Local leaders know him and he's developed a rapport with leaders at all levels of government. Those relationships and trust that has been built over that time has been valuable for the tribe and for the government entities that the Pueblo has to work with.

It is incredibly surprising to see the Pueblo take this course of action and it is unclear what the ramifications will be for the Pueblo. There is a learning curve that comes with governing. It takes a while to not only get yourself acquainting with how to run the day-to-day operations of the Pueblo, which is one of the largest employers and economic drivers in the Lower Valley, but also to understand the machinations of government entities that the Pueblo interfaces with.

This is all with the backdrop of a new congress and a state legislative session starting in Austin. This will be a pivotal year for the Pueblo.