Thursday, March 5, 2015

Event Postings for Candidates & Clubs

As I have done in previous cycles I will post any and all candidate announcements sent to me. 

Events will be posted with out commentary.

Posting of an event does not constitute my support or opposition to any candidate.

This is also open to clubs and organizations that may be hosting fundraisers, debates, forums, etc.

Please email to, inbox me on Facebook, or tweet it to @thelionstarblog.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Super Fight

Boxing is my favorite sport and I frequently equate boxing to politics because there are so many similarities.

I rarely do this, but today I'm actually going to talk about boxing and the big "super fight" between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

First of all, lets stop calling this a super fight because it isn't. This fight is why people get frustrated with boxing. Its 5 years too late. Its only a super fight in the sense that the two are going to make a ton of money and a lot of people are going to watch it. Which is more like a super spectacle than a super fight.

You want super fight? Watch round 9 of the first fight between "Irish" Mickey Ward versus Arturo "Thunder" Gatti. That is a super fight. And there was no belt on the line and the guys probably fought for 1/100th of the purse Pac-Man and Pretty Boy are going to fight for.

Mayweather has made a career out of beating fighters that are passed their prime. Just about every major win he has had over his career has been against a fighter who is just a touch slower than he used to be, his punch is just slightly less crisp that it was before, gets cut a little more than before, or who isn't as light on his feet as he used to be.

Except Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez had every advantage possible in that fight except one...speed.

Speed kills in the ring. Its the reason Mayweather is the best fighter in the world and one of the best in history.

Theres an old saying in boxing about how styles make fights. Its true and I'll tell you right now, Mayweather is going to win this fight. Sure, I'm going for Pacquiao because I like rooting for the underdog and mostly just because I hate Mayweather.

But I hate him because he's so good. His hand speed, footwork, and head movement is a thing of beauty and it frustrates me how well he is able to avoid being hit.

Pac-Man has one gear. Forward.

He's strong, has quick hands of his own, and has power.

But he's lunges in the ring too much. It really hasn't been exposed too often because his opponents are usually getting pummeled. Pac Man is a firm believer in the best defense is a good offense. But Juan Manuel Marquez exposed it pretty regularly in their 4 fight series and ultimately that habit of lunging led to being put to sleep. Marquez made him eat a lot of right hands.

Normally Pac Man's awkward style and habit of lunging makes it hard for him to be hit by his opponents. Except when you have someone as fast and as confident as Mayweather. Against Mayweather those habits are going to make it hard for him to defend himself.

Watch tape of Pacquiao and you'll catch this little habit he has. He has this little jump step that he combines with a pawing right job (he's a southpaw) or sometimes he just faints the jab, to get inside. Once he's inside thats when he releases an arsenal. He is great at throwing punches in punches and then getting out. Marquez caught him doing that and came over the top with a vicious right hand that he'd probably been trying to land for at least 30 rounds.

Take it from someone who's been dropped in the ring, I know exactly what Manny saw, heard, and felt. He saw a flash of white, followed by black, heard a ringing in his ears with muffled shouts, and felt an electric shock flow down towards his legs that then disappeared under him.

And Juan Manuel Marquez is no where near as big, strong, or fast as Mayweather. Somewhere after round 7 Mayweather is going to figure out Manny's timing and then its going to be over. Or he'll just pot shot him the whole fight and frustrate the hell out of Pac Man like he did to Canelo.

So why do so many people think Manny is going to win (its even affecting book makers in Vegas)? Its called collective wishful thinking. They remember how good Manny used to be and in their mind there's nothing you can do to convince them he's not that good any more. Sorta like I am about RGIII.

A younger Manny, around the age he was when be beat De La Hoya, would've been much harder for Mayweather. Mayweather had a hard time earlier in his career against boxer-punchers who pressured him. Jose Luis Castillo is an example. He cut the ring off and really pressured Mayweather. When he got close enough, he ripped hooks to Money's body. Hitting the body is a lot easier than tagging his head.

But Mayweather is the king of adjustments. Mayweather has developed in to a seasoned pro who keeps his cool under a barrage of punches. He uses the shoulder roll for defense quite a bit. That is perfect against someone like Pac Man because the shoulder roll protects his head but it keeps him perfectly positioned to drop the right hand over the top of Pac Man's hands.

Castillo and Pac Man also differ in stature. They are both 5'7, but Pac Man squats a lot so he fights like a shorter fighter. Mayweather is 5'8 and stands straight up, especially when he's counter-punching on the ropes, which is where most of this fight will take place. Floy's reach is 72 inches. Manny's is 68 inches.

A few years ago, maybe, just maybe Pacquiao had the tools to overcome all the disadvantages and land the big punch. Maybe.

But not any more.

This fight will be hyped more than Y2K. People will get lost in their emotions and desire to see Mayweather get what's coming to him.

And they'll be wrong and disappointed.

This will be a mediocre fight in the ring at best.

And as much as it pains me to say, you might not like him, but you can't beat him.

Mayweather will stop him. He's going to counter-punch him to death and finish with an over-hand right.

Love for my haters...

I laugh when I see teenagers complain about having haters. You don't have haters, you have people who don't like you.

I have haters.

And I love them. They spend so much time talking about, thinking about, whining about, complaining about, and bitching about what I'm doing. I don't think about you nearly as much as you think of me.

A few special ones have caught my attention of late and its going to be real fun for me when I finally decide to respond to them in kind. So sit tight Abel and Hector...

Martin Paredes is that one that actually makes me laugh the most. He's like a psycho ex-girlfriend who doesn't get the hint. And the blogosphere is pretty obsessed with my sex life too. I'm flattered gentlemen, but you're not my type.

Someone said that Paredes is now going to keep a scorecard on what the rest of us write about the city council races. Again, a blog about other blogs. Great content production there Marty.

I guess the funniest part is to listen to Captain Hypocrisy himself talk about being unbiased. You're as unbiased as I am flaco ese.

Lets be real, I'm a progressive liberal kind of guy. But you've come up with so many conspiracy theories that the inside of your brain must look like a bad episode of Hoarders. The last person I know of that believed in as many conspiracy theories as you do was a former county commissioner. I'll get to him in a minute.

But seriously Marty, you wouldn't know facts or objectivity if they bit you in the ass. Why don't you tell the truth to everyone about who you are...

You're introduction to politics was being Theresa Caballero's flying monkey, which I will hereby be your logo. Thats why you obsess over political figures from the 90's that don't even live here anymore. But then again neither do you.

Its easy for and your tag team partner to talk crap. Distance and anonymity are convenient little safety blankets aren't they?

You people can't make up your mind if I'm the second-coming of Tupac or some pocho vendido trying to play the part of a homeboy who really lives in a gated community in Sparks. Seriously, someone actually said that. I was sent a screen shot of that. Clearly they've never been to Sparks and for those of you that have, you know how funny that is.

Some streets aren't paved, there aren't sidewalks, some residents don't have running water, but some idiot seems to think there's a gated community there.

And here's another one for you. I don't live in Horizon or Socorro either. Some poor guy has the same name as I do (I looked it up myself and was pretty surprised. I'm gonna make it a point to find him and figure out how we are related) but its not me.

I live in Ysleta. Sorry to disappoint you all. I'm not the guy who tries to pretend he's a barrio guy and really lives in a gated community...but I know one that does...

As for the rest of my haters, they are all a lot of "used to be's"

Used to be a congressman
Used to be a commissioner
Used to be a justice of the peace
Used to be a talk radio host
Used to be a promotions director

Lots of used to be's. I've got candy for all of you. What you really want wasn't me off the cultural committee. What you really wanted was me silenced because my existence bothers you. Sorry, not going anywhere. But you guys certainly motivated me...

Oh, I almost forgot about Sergio Lewis. I got a few calls, inbox messages, etc about him talking a lot of smack about me on FB. Studio gangsta, as my generation says.

He's still sore about losing his seat. He used to obsess about Maxi Pad and thought I was him. He actually called me "Max" a few times. Out of respect, I never engaged him. But since he wants to engage me, okay, I'll play.

I thought I'd respond by speaking his language...crappy poetry.

So here's one for you Sergio.

Rose are red,
Violets are blue,

I'm not a county commissioner....
and neither are you.

Ballot Order

In the crowded races the order on the ballot is a big deal. It doesn't really matter in the races with just two people, but in a race like District 1, its a big deal. So I called the city and (eventually) I got an answer. I literally had to call the city clerk's office 4 times to get an answer.

So here is the order the candidates will appear on the ballot. They do not have ballot numbers yet.

District 1
Al Weisenberger
Rick Bonart
Manny Hinojosa
Peter Svarzbein
Daniel Lopez
Bertha Gallardo

District 5
Mike Noe
Rosa Cabrera

District 6
Mike Pickett
Claudia Ordaz

District 8
Josh Dagda
Cortney Niland

The Dagda Logo

I'm in complete shock as to why in the world Josh Dagda's logo is such a big deal but people won't stop talking about it.

Another 3 conversations about it today!

I personally think it's a clean layout and design but I'm not especially fond of it. Nor do I dislike it, which probably says a lot because most campaign logos annoy me with how bad they are. 

A few have commented on how much it looks like Niland's logo and some have called it a "rip-off" of her logo. 

Sorry but I don't agree. Sure it's similar but a rip off implies he meant to do it. What challenger in his right mind would want to look like his opponent? It's counter-productive to have been a calculated effort. 

A friend of mine on Twitter ( for those of you interested in following me) actually made a much stronger argument that the logo was an echo of another political logo.

Here is Dagda's logo again:

So my buddy who keeps up with such things, pointed out the the logo was similar to that of the "Pirate Party". 

At first I thought it was the title to an adult movie but it isn't. 

I had to to Wikipedia to find out more about it. 

At any rate, can we please stop talking about the logo now?

Notes from the Congressman's Office

Here are a few notes from Congressman O'Rourke's Office. One is about an art contest and the other is about town halls coming up.

Saturday, March 7, 2015
*General Town Hall*
Cathedral High School
Guereca Auditorium
1309 North Stanton Street, El Paso, TX 79902
9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

*Veteran Town Hall*
Cathedral High School
Guereca Auditorium
1309 North Stanton Street, El Paso, TX 79902

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Art Contest
Each spring, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives sponsor a nation-wide high school arts competition. The Artistic Discovery Contest is an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent in the nation, as well as in our congressional district.
The Artistic Discovery Contest is open to all high school students in the 16th District. The over-all winner of our district's competition will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol. The exhibit in Washington will also include artwork from other contest winners nationwide.
Artworks entered in the contest may be no larger than 28” x 28” x 4” (28 inches high, 28 inches wide, and 4 inches deep), including the frame. If your artwork is selected as the winning piece, it will be required to be framed and must still adhere to the size guidelines.
The artwork may be:
Paintings - including oil, acrylics, and watercolor
Drawings - including pastels, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal, ink, and markers
Prints - including lithographs, silkscreen, and block prints
Mixed Media
Computer Generated Art
All entries must be two-dimensional and original in concept, design, and execution.
The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since then, over 650,000 high school students have been involved in the nationwide competition.
For more information, including winner’s entries from previous years, check out the Congressional Art Competition’s Website Here.
*Important Details*:
All submissions are due to the district office by April 10th, 2015.
Each participant must also submit the Student Information and Release Form (available at the Congressman's Office).
Our District Office will host a reception for all participants, their families, friends, and high school faculty. Date and place to be announced.
A local panel of judges selected by our district office will choose a winner no later than May 6th, 2015.
The over-all winner will be flown to Washington D.C. care of Southwest Airlines in June for the Artistic Discovery Contest Reception. The winner’s artwork will hang in the Capitol for the entire year of the exhibition. Therefore, students should submit artwork they will not need for other purposes, as it will not be returned to the student earlier.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Megan Ortegon in our district office at:
303 N. Oregon St.
Suite 210
El Paso, TX. 79901
(915) 541 – 1400

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Full Slate - Municipal Races for 2015 Part 2

Alright then, lets have a quick look at the city council candidates for District 1. This race will ultimately congeal into three tiers of candidates. Front-runners most likely to make a run-off, stronger candidates that have a good chance to make a run-off, and the also-rans. The biggest factors in this race are going to be money, field work, and name ID in that order. One observation I can make about this field of candidates compared to those in the past is that it is a higher caliber field of candidates.

I'll go in alphabetical order since there are so many candidates.

Richard Bonart - He's most known for his environmental work, but by the masses he's most known for an incident involving the PSB stuff. He's a veterinarian and has been in practice for many years. That means a lot of people know him. Especially people who spend a lot of money taking care of their pets. For a lot of people their pets are like family members and so there is a great deal of trust involved when you put your loved one's health in another person's hands. That'll be helpful for Bonart. He has the capacity to self-fund his campaign. I haven't had a chance to speak with him yet, but based on what is publicly available about him, he seems to be pretty strong on policy development even if he his perceived to be a bit one-dimensional.

Biggest Strength - Most will tell you that his notoriety and stature in the community is his biggest strength, but it isn't. His biggest strength is Susie Byrd. This race changed entirely when another candidate joined the race and having a field program became that much more important to his campaign. Others will tell you that having a field program on the westside isn't that important but there's nothing unique about the westside that would mean that voters there respond completely different than voters in the rest of the country.

Biggest Weakness - Its unlikely that he will do his own campaigning outside of showing up to a few forums and debates, which really isn't campaigning. He's perceived as being one-dimensional so he'll have to dispel that perception. He's also perceived as being difficult to work with.

Biggest Unknown - Money. He has the capacity to self-fund the race but wealthy candidates are notorious for not wanting to put their own money in the campaign. With so many candidates in the race its going to make it that much more expensive to tough voters and have them remember you.


Bertha Gallardo - Gallardo is the only Latina in the race. She has done work with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the workforce board, and is arguably the only candidate in the race with executive-level corporate experience. She's a public affairs officer at Las Palmas Del Sol and has served as Vice President of Managed Care at Las Palmas Del Sol and Executive Director of Managed Care at Tenet. Her professional experience coupled with her experience with the Chamber and the workforce board means she knows a lot of executives. She knows a lot of them that probably normally don't contribute to political races but may do so in her case. I haven't had a chance to speak to her yet so I don't have a sense of her policy knowledge or political leanings.

Biggest Strength - Being the only Latina is a big advantage, though not as much as it is in other districts. Her strength is in her potential to raise money from sources that aren't normally in play. These are people that probably aren't even going to be hit up by the other candidates.

Biggest Weakness - Campaign organization. The talent in terms of campaign management is finite and there's only two operatives that I know of that are normally involved that aren't as of yet. They may have their eye on another district so Gallardo has to get some professional help. She's never been involved in politics before and can't afford to try to DIY this race otherwise her money means nothing. -

Biggest Unknown - Can she develop a base of support? Right now she isn't very well-known within the district, at least not compared to a few of the others. Does she have the capacity to build enough of a base to make a run-off? Thats the unknown with her.


Manny Hinojosa - The El Paso Times article from over the weekend mentioned Hinojosa as having an occupation that I hadn't heard of him having before but I haven't spoken to him in a while. He's most known for his religious work and as a candidate. He previously ran for District 1 and most recently ran as a Libertarian for District Clerk. When he ran for District 1 the first time he was largely associated with a slate of candidates that then Pastor, now Bishop Tom Brown ran. Hinojosa does a great deal of charity work and ministry.

Biggest Strength -  This might surprise you but Hinojosa knows more about campaign and government issues than people give him credit for. Once he develops a message he's pretty disciplined about it and stays with his talking points very well. He does very well working a room focusing on individuals on a one-on-one basis. He also has guts, I'll give him that. A few years back he showed up to one of our El Paso Young Democrats meetings and wasn't shy about telling us he was a Republican at the time.

Biggest Weakness - He's a very strong religious conservative and while a fiscal conservative message might play well, a religious conservative one might diminish his effectiveness. He needs to raise money and develop a base of support. He doesn't have one right now and he doesn't have access to big donors. Like it or not, money gives you the capacity to send out your message to voters. Typically Hinojosa just goes to campaign forums, fundraisers, and events and doesn't conduct any grassroots or mail program. He needs to develop and build on a base of support.

Biggest Unknown - The biggest unknown is if he's learned any valuable lessons from his last two attempts at running for office. Will he campaign any differently or stick to the same play book?


Daniel Lopez - I have actually had a chance to speak to Mr. Lopez recently over the phone. He's a business consultant and alluded to an interesting personal back story that we didn't get a chance to talk about during our conversation. Lopez has never run for office before and most of his experience has been with small business and government. He's President of the Board at Volar Center for Independent Living and is self-employed. He has previously worked for the city of El Paso from 1995-2000. He went to high school in the valley at Bel Air and later graduating from Ysleta. Prior to working for the City of El Paso he worked for the City of Brownsville.

Biggest Strength - Being a former city employee his biggest strength is going to be in policy and understanding of the machinations of city government. He's a smart guy who has pretty advanced knowledge of policy. I asked him basic candidate questions about what he thinks are the biggest issues facing the district, etc and he did very well. Usually people either give me a deer in the headlights look or have a prefabricated answer ready to whip out. He seemed very genuine, open-minded, and he's very likeable.

Biggest Weakness - He hasn't run for office before and needs some guidance on how to effectively deliver his message. He isn't well known within the district and has to raise his profile. The hardest part for him is going to be able to stand out from the pack in terms of message. That is going to be very difficult without some campaign money.

Biggest Unknown - Can he distinguish himself enough from the rest of the candidates running. There is already a couple of business candidates, a couple of hispanics, several men, he's neither old nor young, etc. He's gotta find a way to distinguish his candidacy.


Peter Svarzbein - The visual artist is the Rodney Dangerfield of the field. He can't get no respect. No one in the blogosphere takes him seriously or thinks he's a credible candidate. I got called out for calling him a white guy instead of Latino. DK seems think he's too Jewish and thinks there's something fishy about him having a PAC. At first I thought it was because DK's mom is Bonart's treasurer. Then DK mentioned his connection to another candidate, so Everyone else thinks he's too young or not a serious candidate because he's a visual artist. But he's got a master's degree and teaches at Texas Tech School of Architecture. He owns property and runs his own business. He comes from a prominent family on the westside. Like Bonart he's known for his activism. Like most of the other candidates he has an advanced degree. Not as much business experience as the other candidates but certainly more marketing experience. So far he's got more campaign visibility than the other candidates in the district. He should, he was the first one out of the gate. He has the work the hardest of all the candidates to realistically make a run-off.

Biggest Strength - He started early, he has an actual campaign structure, and he's the youngest candidate. He takes campaigning seriously, which flies in the face of the typical stereotype of artists.

Biggest Weakness - He has a credibility gap with the establishment. That means raising money is going to be harder for him. He needs money to feed that grassroots operation. It doesn't take a lot of money, but you need a decent amount.

Biggest Unknown - Can he do enough to make a run-off? Can he get the money his campaign needs? Can he pull off the upset?


Al Weisenberger - This is the candidate that waited until the last minute to get in the race but made the biggest impact. He along with Gallardo are the two candidates that have changed the tone of the race the most. David K wrote that he thought the race was Al Weisenberger's race to lose. I think DK is right. Its certainly Weisdenberger's race to lose. When the rumor of Weisenberger getting into the race most of the people I know on the westside didn't know who he was. They'd never heard his name. They knew nothing about it. Even the very politically astute. Turns out it was a generational thing. Most people my age and younger aren't familiar with him but older folks and David K are familiar with him. I also had a chance to speak with him and he is absolutely going to be a formidable candidate. He seemed to have a really strong grasp of policy and actually had an agenda in mind in terms of what to do as a city council representative.

Biggest Strength - The establishment has all seemed to have gravitated toward his candidacy. He is now the Forma candidate in the race, which would actually make him the second, possibly third candidate that Forma has signed with in this race. He will be the candidate that gets all the money and from what I'm told he's pretty well to do to begin with. Very likeable guy so he will have no problem whatsoever winning people over.

Biggest Weakness - This is also a bit of an unknown as well, but its his age. He's an older candidate, as is Bonart, so doing a lot of the grassroots stuff is probably not going to happen. Voters in El Paso have pretty consistently drifted toward younger candidates. The exception was Ann Morgan Lily when she last ran and defeated a younger opponent. She was also a Forma candidate. If he does no grassroots effort at all, and a couple other candidates do, he's leaving the door open to not make a run-off. Races with this many candidates are all about turn-out and who can best GOTV.

Biggest Unknown - Will enough people remember him and vote for him.

District 8 Campaign Logos

Its been a while since I had a chance to write a piece about campaign logos but the District 8 race has given me the opportunity to do so.

The race is between incumbent City Rep Cortney Niland and challenger Josh Dagda. Niland went with a new logo design created by Two Ton. Forma Group did her old one and it looked like a knock-off of the Cartoon Network logo. Which could have been much worse. Forma's Tania Chozet logo looked like the logo from Top Gun.

So Niland's logo was posted on her Facebook account about a month ago. Not sure when Dagda came up with his design. But at any rate, he didn't jump into the race until the last night.

With only two people in the race, the fact that the two logo designs are so similar is at the very least funny but more than likely frustrating for both candidates. I'm sure it was unintentional, but why in the hell would you purposely make both logos look so similar?

As you can see it looks like they had the same idea in terms of design. The went with a round logo with a white design bordering the edges.

I usually don't get much feedback about logo design but six different people sent me text messages about Dagda's logo yesterday. Five of the six loved it and thought it was great. Two specifically mentioned the flag and star portion of the logo. Another thought it was supposed to represent a ship's sail, but either way its the most positive talk I've heard about a campaign logo in a long time. One seemed to not be too much of a fan of his logo.

I don't really want to make this a conversation about who's logo I like better because I think they are both pretty solid campaign designs. But as a practical matter, its gotta be frustrating for the campaigns to have designs that look similar.

Ultimately Niland has the advantage because she has more money. So she can likely just by a ton of signs and put them all over the place and Dagda's signs will probably get lost with hers.

But I'm not a guy who puts a lot of stock in signs. They don't make or break a campaign. Commissioner Stout defeated Sergio Lewis without a single campaign sign. Lewis had campaign signs, also done by Two Ton, that had a figure that was supposed to resemble Lewis. It looked like Joseph Stalin and the Simpsons had a baby. It was a creepy yellow figure that was all mustache and hair.

Speaking of Lewis. I hear he's got some not-so-nice things to say about me on social media these days. I decided I'd write him a poem. More on that later today.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Full Slate - Municipal Races for 2015 Part 1

Well the filing deadline has passed for the El Paso municipal elections and there weren't really any surprises. The open seat has several candidates and the races with incumbents each have an opponent.

For the incumbents, their opponents all filed papers within the last two days of the filing period. One of them was trying to file with petitions but couldn't get enough signatures. I'm not sure if its because the process was started late or if there just wasn't enough people to sign the petition. At any rate, the candidates that filed against the incumbents at the last minute aren't really well-known in the districts, with the possible exception of Rosa Cabrera. Except that I think more people know her by Arrellano.

As I mentioned before, she's the most credible of the last-minute candidates and is the only opponent of an incumbent that I'd classify as a credible candidate. She's got issues she'll have to deal with and overcome, but she's the best of the bunch in terms of challengers to incumbents. She's challenging Representative Noe for the District 5 seat.

Strongest Asset: Her experience running a non-profit organization, her education, notoriety (has a Spanish language radio program), and she's attractive.

Biggest Issue: Her politics. She's very conservative in a town that has pockets of conservatives but is overwhelmingly Democratic.

Biggest Unknown: Her ability to raise money.

Over in District 6, Representative Ordaz drew Mike Pickett as an opponent. His best shot at the seat was running when it was an open seat and capitalizing on the Pickett name even though he's not related to Representative Joe Pickett, and really only if that race was run in November as opposed to last July. If memory serves he couldn't run last July because he didn't meet the eligibility requirements in terms of length of time in the district. Representative Ordaz hasn't pissed anyone off. She's an alum of Montwood High School which plays very well with folks in the north-of-the-freeway portion of District 6. She won every precinct in the district in the last race against a guy who was a prominent business owner, younger than Pickett, put money in the face and is bilingual. An unknown Anglo with not much time in the district is going to have a very hard time winning votes south of the freeway. Ordaz was very strong in the barrio portion of the District 6. Pickett certainly has a very steep hill to climb.

Strongest Asset: The Pickett last name. He might get a few people to vote for him that think he's Joe Pickett. Maybe.

Biggest Issue: Not much time in the district, no base of support, ability to raise money, and facing one of the more popular members of council.

Biggest Unknown: Who is supporting him and knowledge of city issues.

So does District 8 challenger Josh Dagda. He's challenging Representative Niland for her seat. He's been an activist on a few issues, but most prominently for marijuana legalization. He's young and I'm told he's bilingual which makes sense because his campaign website indicates that he was born in El Paso and he grew up in Juarez. His website says he's a small business owner as well. Some folks that know him reached out to me and said he's very bright and articulate and is very likeable. Niland might be the toughest campaigner of the incumbents that are up for reelection in this cycle. She's by far the best at raising campaign money.

Strongest Asset: Smart, young, and articulate guy. He's an activist so that tells me he's passionate and that is a quality you can't buy or teach a candidate. He hangs with a click of activists here in town that might help him out with the grassroots part of his campaign.

Biggest Issue: The issues he's advocated for aren't necessarily ones that will be helpful to his candidacy. Lets be real, being young and an advocate for marijuana legalization comes with its own set of problems. He'll have to get over some stereotypes in an area of town that is pretty conservative. He's had some legal issues in the past that are going to come up and he'll have to do his best to explain them. Even grassroots efforts cost money. He's gonna really be outgunned in that department.

Biggest Unknown: What his message is going to be. Based on what I've seen on his campaign site it looks like he's going to be talking about "decades of neglect". Not sure how effective it is going to be to argue that the westside doesn't get its fair share.

District 1 candidate profiles coming soon.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Last Day to File - Ordaz, Cabrera (Arrellano), Pickett, Weisenberger File

You people can stop hounding me now.

Claudia Ordaz is in.

I don't know why she took so long to file the papers, but District 6 has been neglected for long time and there is probably a lot to do. I know, I live in District 6. But as you can see from this Facebook post yesterday, Representative Ordaz is running for re-election.

She apparently has an opponent. His name is Michael Pickett, no relation to Joe Pickett. He was at one point, Eddie Holguin's hand-picked successor when Holguin resigned his seat to run for County Judge. He is one of those Jaime O. Perez acolytes.

District 6 is bisected by the I-10, so its the Lower Eastside and the Mission Valley.

Before I go any further, I want to repeat something I said previously. If you are trying to mount a serious threat to an incumbent, why the hell would you start late? You make your job much harder. You will need more people, more money, and are working with less time. Not a smart move at all.

Frankly, this race is easy to call. Ordaz is going to crush Pickett. She's still sitting on a bunch of money from the last campaign, there are still a ton of signs that were left over from the first race so she doesn't even have to spend money on that.

Pickett has no base to work off of, won't be able to raise money, and if he follows what JOP tells him to do, he's going to get creamed even worse.

Ordaz won every precinct last go around. She has a far better team than anything Holguin and JOP can muster. In fact, I don't even know if Holguin is going to support Pickett this go-around. But if he does, it'll likely just be another letter he sends to voters. That hasn't worked the last three times he's sent one out.

Ordaz will likely win every precinct in District 6...again. Even if another candidate jumps in the race today, Ordaz wins without a run-off. This one is over before it starts.

Take that to the bank.

District 5 (Upper Eastside and Far East)

Representative Noe is facing Rosa Maria Cabrera who also uses the last name of Arrellano. She runs a local non-profit, Dame La Mano.

Cabrera (Arrellano) has far more credibility than most of the other candidates in the city other than the incumbents. She runs a non-profit, she's bilingual, young, Latina, has been on the radio and honestly, very attractive. As a candidate, she's a pretty good package.

The knock on her is going to be her politics. Actually now that she's a candidate, I don't think she's allowed to be on the radio anymore or Noe has to get equal time. Something like that.

I found some bio information on her and on her application to be a candidate it says she has a Master's Degree in Education (M. Ed). Her Facebook page says she has a Master's in Counseling from UTEP and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. It also indicates that she's in the PhD program for Clinical Psychology at California Southern University. I couldn't find the Masters in Education on her bio, but its pretty smart because Dr. Noe is an MD. She wants to have M.Ed after her name on the ballot, so maybe thats some political gamesmanship. Smart move if it is.

Her bio also sais that she is "the Executive Director of Dame La Mano Center that assist (sic) victims of domestic violence and children whom are also victims of sexual abused (sic), undocumented immigrants who also suffer abused (sic)..."

From what I've seen on social media she's pretty anti-Obama and very conservative. She has several pictures of her with conservative leaders, at conservative events, and supporting conservative causes. That might play well with Republicans in town, but there aren't enough of them to get her elected. If her conservative credentials are made an issue, she's going to have a tough time.

Here's an example, this is a picture of her with Lt Governor Dan Patrick. He's arguably the most extreme anti-immigrant leader ever elected in Texas. Ms. Cabrera (Arrellano) non-profit is based in Segundo Barrio and as mentioned previously, serves the undocumented.

Stuff like that will be problematic.

That being said, there is a possibility that she could use her conservative credentials to raise money. Even though its a non-profit race, those conservative organizations she supports would likely jump at the chance to throw money at a viable conservative candidate.

There are conservative pockets on the eastside, but Representative Noe is not exactly a super liberal guy himself. He's pretty much a middle-of-the-road Democrat.

He delivers babies and makes no secret that he's pro-life. So they agree on that issue and its not a city issue anyway.

Not sure what her position on city issues are or how they differ from Dr. Noe's so we will see how that pans out.

She's going to be a formidable opponent for Dr. Noe depending on what her message shapes out to be.

Albert Weisenberger threw his hat officially in the ring yesterday as well for District 1. He's an attorney and had a car dealership at one time.

Generally speaking the electorate likes younger candidates. He's an older guy and he's getting in really late.

Who ever is advising him is giving him some really bad advice. He's jumping in too late. There's already a business type candidate (from what I can tell that is going to be Bertha Gallardo's angle) and she's far younger and Latina.

I think they appeal to the same voter and will likely split those folks.

Lets see if any more candidates jump in the race...

What's Up Magazine - Best Elected Official

The nominations are open for the Best of the Best thing that What's Up Magazine does every year.

There are nominations listed, but you can submit other nominees still. In the category of Best Elected Official there are a few nominees that are already listed, but again you can nominate others.

So far the nominees are:

Congressman Beto O'Rourke
County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal
City Rep Lily Limon
District Clerk Norma Favela

I came across the nomination form on Facebook because Favela had posted it on her wall. She's won 4 years in a row. She campaigns harder for it than she has to for her own election. She loves to win that award. She has the sticker of every year she's won on the door to the District Clerk's office.

I'm betting she wins again. She's smart because she takes a whole posse of people to the voting event and I think she has her staff go to.

If there is an elected official you'd like to nominate, here is the link to the nomination page. Its under Local Legends section.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tornillo ISD Finally Gets a Nurse

Dr. Jeannie Meza-Chavez will try to spin it otherwise, but the reality is that the community won major victory last night at the Tornillo ISD meeting.

She was forced to recommend a school nurse.

Dr. Chavez is trying to frame it as though she proactively dealt with the issue and came forward with a plan to secure a school nurse on her own.

But that isn't the truth. The truth is she made no real effort to attract a school nurse until after the district received negative press about the lack of a school nurse. Even after the first stories came out, Dr. Chavez made no effort to put an item on the agenda to entice candidates for the nursing position or to even discuss the issue. Instead her plan was to teach the teachers first aid.

And then a student with special needs was seriously injured after her hand-picked administrator observed the student and sent him back to class.

Once that became a story, it was then and only then, that Dr. Chavez took any meaningful act towards securing a nurse.

Those are the facts. And if anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying.

If there is anyone that deserves credit for getting a school nurse, its the community members that pushed so hard for it. The ones that had the courage to stand up and speak with the media. That might sound like an easy thing to do but its not when you live in a small community.

Particularly the parents of the student that was injured. Those two more than anyone else should be credited with the district finally getting a nurse.

Before I go on, I have to credit the school board for unanimously voting to offer the school nurse position to their candidate. That was the right vote and that was a vote in support of the community. Job well done.

Now lets talk about the crazy.

There has been a narrative going around, and its typical when you deal with small towns that don't like outsiders, that everything was just fine in Tornillo. No problems, no division.

One lady, who is actually the spouse of a board member, was passing around the little note a posted a while back to parents after school that had that narrative. Interestingly if there was no division there would be no need for the note, but I'm sure she didn't think that one through.

She spoke at the meeting last night. She had all the drama of a protestant minister and a telenovela star wrapped in one. Frankly, it was the most interesting part of the night for me. She used the children, she walked around with the microphone, she mentioned the baby Jesus, and she dramatically walked up to a board member and leveled an allegation against the board member of divulging information about what is discussed in executive session.

She didn't offer any proof, just made the allegation for dramatic impact I guess. It also left me wondering how the wife of a school board member would even know about what is discussed in executive session if no one was divulging that information to her...

But the craziest thing I saw was people defending Dr. Chavez, which truth be told, wasn't many. But the point is, I don't get how people didn't understand what a major failure in leadership on the part of a superintendent it is to go well over half the school year without a nurse.

The fact that the district went a long time without a nurse before her isn't a defense. In fact, that just makes the board look even more inept. The single most important job of the school district is to ensure the safety of the students. There is nothing happening in that school district that is more important than that basic responsibility.

There is a palpable culture of fear in the Tornillo ISD. Parents and faculty are in fear of speaking up because they fear retribution from Dr. Chavez. But Dr. Chavez doesn't realize that there are more leaks in Tornillo ISD than the Titanic. Slowly but surely the faculty and staff are developing the courage to step forward.

Don't believe me? You'd be surprised at how many grievances are filed in Tornillo ISD.

At this point, Dr. Chavez might want to try to work things out with her staff. The last thing she wants to do, especially now that the state teachers union has Tornillo on their radar, is to go to war with the teachers. The teachers are far more popular with the community than the superintendent or the school board.

Dr. Chavez can't afford any more negative press and neither can the school board. Last night a community member raised the issue of ISS students (the kids in trouble) being put in the same classroom as the special needs students. That is a MAJOR no-no. That is a career-ender no-no.

That one falls on the administration, not the teachers. And the board is only gonna tolerate so much heat because of Dr. Chavez before they decide its not worth the effort anymore. Or...the teachers union could decide to put some money into the elections and just change up the board.

So Chavez is in a weakened position at this point.

Chavez was questioned during the meeting about the allegation of the ISS students with the special needs students. She said it was the first she'd heard of the situation. That drew a very negative reaction from the crowd and several people shouting "mentirosa". She then rephrased the comment to say something to the effect that it was the first time she's heard of it in that forum.

Whatever that means.

At any rate, the school district now has a nurse and parents were happy that was done.

Okay Fine, No One Else Is Gonna Say It So I Will...

There's a story in the El Paso Times about Marty Reyes not running for office again at Ysleta ISD.

They have this quote from her about turning over the reigns and spending more time with family, blah blah blah.

I have no reason to believe that isn't all true.

But you know what else is true? The fact that she was the loudest voice at YISD against having transparency with campaign financial reporting.

This is the first election cycle for her that candidates for school boards will have to file financial reports.

And she's not running.

You do the math.

Other City of El Paso Elections - The Incumbents

From the way I've been writing you'd think the only election happening is in District 1 but that isn't the case. Districts 5,6, and 8 also have elections.

They have incumbents; City Reps Noe, Ordaz, and Niland respectively.

For some reason Ordaz hasn't gotten around to filing yet. That is the main reason still think she's not going to run.

At any rate, none of them will get serious challengers. If they were serious in their intent to unseat an incumbent, a smart challenger would've started a long time ago.

Its unlikely they end up with any challenger and if they do its not anyone for them to be concerned about.

The incumbents should rightfully take that as an endorsement of their individual agendas by the electorate they each represent.

The Children's Hospital Fiasco

How bad are things when even the UMC Board thinks you have bad leadership?

Hell, UMC Board gave a big fact bonus to Valenti after letting go of a bunch of employees because they didn't have the money to pay them but could pay a fat bonus to Jimbo.

And that Board has to take over your crappy board?

Dayum. That's like the Titanic being operated by Malaysia Air.

I saw news coverage that said Susie Byrd's contract to be the Children's Hospital spokesperson ran out on Monday. I saw an interview with the County Judge that said she thought the Children's Hospital filing bankruptcy was a bad idea.

When you no longer have allies, your days are number. Sorry Children's Hospital, but you guys are going to be under UMC...

Yet Another Candidate Files for District 1

Like I said a while back, the field for District 1 is the size of a small kindergarten class. A new candidate filed papers yesterday. His name is Daniel Lopez. I know zero about him and have never met him. But at some point I'll interview all the candidates in the race. Even the ones that don't want me to like Manny Hinojosa.

But yesterday someone commented on the piece I did about District 1 and asked me a few good questions that I answered but I think I'll go ahead and address here, especially because David K writes a very entertaining piece about Peter Svarzbein on his blog yesterday. You can find it here.

The person who commented wanted to know why I refered to Richard Bonart as Susie Byrd's candidate, why I thought Svarzbein has a shot at the run-off, and who do I see as winning the race and why.

So let me break it down for you.

As far as the Susie Byrd thing goes, I guess I could've called Bonart David K's mom's candidate too because she's his treasurer. Either way I guess neither characterization is really far. Bonart is his own candidate. I mentioned Susie because she's helping his campaign and introduced him at his campaign kickoff event. Susie Byrd is the only, and I repeat only, reason that he has a shot at making the run-off.

DK doesn't like Svarzbein for whatever reason but I can pretty confidently say it has nothing to do with his mom. Mrs K is a very nice lady and everyone usually wonders how a lady that nice lady could be David K's mom. My mother gets the same questions about me. If you read David K's stuff  he's been pretty critical of Bonart. Actually far more so than any one else. David K's really the only
one who had him in his radar.

Now here is where DK and I are going to differ. I think everything another candidate gets in the race the more it helps Svarzbein and Bonart. They are the only two candidates that have, or will have, anything that resembles and effective ground game. When you have a crowded field of candidates, voters are going to go with the names they are most familiar with. Since there are no household names in the race (Don't say Weisenberger is because he isn't), then the names they are going to be the most familiar with are going to be the ones that make contact with the voter. If you don't get that, then you don't understand how campaigns work.

Let's not forget the general trend in voting in El Paso either, all things being equal El Pasoans typically select the younger, more progressive candidate. So in that case, the advantage is to the Class A Milenial. That being said, one of the last times there was an election that bucked that trend was when Ann Morgan Lilly was reelected to that position.

As far as the way Svarzbein filed, I think it's DK trying to make a spark catch fire. No matter how hard you fan those flames, Svarzbein didn't do anything illegal. I don't know why he filed the way that he did and it seems stupid to me, but it's not like he broke the law or anything. You're allowed to file that way. And let's be real, voters don't know/understand/give two shits how someone files their financials unless a law was broken.

Who do I think will win? Way too early to say. I think Bonart and Svarzbein have the best shot today. That could change. But right now Bonart has Susie Byrd and Svarzbein is the only candidate that has actually been campaigning.

Bertha Gallegos has an uphill battle but she could be a big factor. She has to introduce herself to voters, but if she can raise money she might do well. Weisenberger is not the next Oscar Leeser. he's not a household name and unless he's willingr to dump a lot of money in the race I don't see him making too much noise. I think as of today they are your second tier candidates and both could make themselves top-tier candidates very easily. Their biggest problem is getting in the races so late.

More to come

Tornillo Girls Hoops Go Undefeated

You've probably heard more about Tornillo in the last few weeks than you have in years and it's mostly bad.

I'm not one that thinks I need to write something good about a community and pretending everything is hunky dory when it isn't just for the sake of "balance", but there is something pretty noteworthy I want to highlight before you hear more of the ugly truth about Tornillo later today.

The girls basketball team went undefeated this year. One thing you should know about Tornillo is that in athletics they have a tradition of winning. Their trophy case is bursting at the seams with trophies. Real sports trophies too, not like lame-ass Cathedral High swimming championships or being tennis team captain at Bel Air. I mean real sports like football, basketball, etc.

Last season the Lady Coyotes were pretty awful. They were 1-9. This year they turned it all around and finished undefeated. Tornillo isn't an affluent community. They typically play much more affluent communities were mommy and daddy have the money to put their kids in clinics and camps and all that stuff. Tornillo doesn't.

And they still kicked butt this year.

Good job Lady Coyotes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tornillo ISD in Violation of Texas Open Meetings Act?

According to a handbook put out by the Texas Attorney General's Office it appears that Tornillo ISD may be in violation of the Open Meetings Act. You can read the handbook here.

Section VII B (starting on page 27 of the handbook) states that Section 551.043(a) of the Texas Code indicates "The notice of a meeting of a governmental body must be posted in a place readily accessible to the general public at all times for at least 72 hours before the schedule time of the meeting, except as provided by Sections 551.044-551.046"

That means that the written notice has to be physically posted where the general public can have access to it, for at least 72 hours before the meeting. At least meaning not less than 72 hours. According to residents in Tornillo, the notice was not physically posted within that time period.

However Tornillo ISD does satisfy the posting requirement if they continuously post the notice on the internet during the prescribed period. In English that means that they satisfy the notification requirement if they post the notification / agenda on the internet for 72 continuous hours before the meeting.

As you can see from this screen shot, this is the practice normally done by Tornillo ISD.

Unfortunately as you can see in this screen shot from Tuesday morning, a little more than 24 hours before the meeting, there is no meeting posted for February.

Again requirements for posting the meeting are laid out in Texas Code. As you can see in this screen shot from the Texas AG's Open Meetings Handbook, there is also a requirement for the meeting to be posted online. 

The violation could mean that if someone filed a complaint with the Sheriff's Office and it was taken up by an entity, that action taken by the board during the meeting could be voidable.

Depending on what happens in the meeting then there could be other penalties, although violations like a walking quorum or a majority of members meeting in private carry the stiffest penalties.

Rumored District 1 Candidate - Al Weisenburger

Word around the westside is that Al Weisenburger is going to join the race for District 1.

Don't know much about him other than he's an older guy that used to own a car dealership or something.

So if he's rich, obviously that is helpful. But much like the other candidates who've never run before, he needs a good campaign team. I just don't know who's out there to help him out. Most everyone is either already married up or committed their support to a candidate already.

Filing deadline is Friday, so lets see who else throws their hat in the ring. I'm surprised Rick Schecter hasn't done so yet to be quite honest.

Stay tuned...

District 1 Race Candidates

As you can see from this screen shot, things are getting interesting in district 1. Bertha Gallegos (I wrote about her a while back as a probable candidate) is in. 

She changes the race in a meaningful way and virtually ensures a run off. 

Interestingly Dan Longoria is still listed. I'll check with the city and find out if that's a mistake or if something needs to happen for him to be taken off before the ballot is finalized. 

If he stays on its going to cause a lot of confusion.

The question is who makes the run off?Peter Svarzbein has a good shot to make the run off as does Susie Byrd's candidate, Rick Bonart. 

Manny Hinojosa doesn't have the support to make a run-off but whatever votes he gets will be a few less votes the other candidates will get and further increase the likelihood of a runoff. 

It'll be really interesting to see what Gallardo's campaign team looks like because this will come down to who has the best ground game as most campaigns do. 

This one is gonna be fun.

Ordaz is Running for Re-Election

A lot of people have been asking me so lets put it to rest. Representative Ordaz is running for re-election.

She has not filed yet and that is the reason why there have been so many questions floating around about whether or not she was going to run again. So I contacted Representative Ordaz and she stated, "Yes I am going to run!"

No other candidate has filed to run for the seat as of yet. 

Representative Ordaz is currently serving the final portion of the unexpired term of former City Rep Eddie Holguin who resigned his position to run for County Judge. 

The final date to file to run for office is this Friday.