Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where Were All The Wanna-Be's?

I went to city council today expecting a Cesar Chavez Day proclamation from the Mayor and Council. 

There was a resolution about Cesar Chavez Day, which really ended up being much more about Rep Limon than a Cesar Chavez. Not her fault by the way. The language was about the academy.

But at a time when we have all this buzz about the Hispanic Cultural Center, I simply can't get over the fact that there was basically no proclamation for Cesar Chavez and what is worth, none of the activist community was present. 

Yep, all those wanna-be all-of-sudden-I-think-I'm-a-Brown-Beret like that Hobbit that escaped the Shire Hector Montes were freaking AWOL today.

Oh yeah, talking all that crap and he doesn't show up today. He has time to call members of council and bitch and moan about me being on the Hispanic Cultural Committee, plenty of time on his hands to trash a fellow Chicano, but can't make it today. 

He has plenty of time to consult with political candidates, but none to show up today.

No one from LULAC. No one from the LULAC that doesn't like the other LULAC. No one from MACI. No one from Tejano Democrats. 

Sad. And we wonder why we are raising a generation of our youth that have no connection to the struggles of the movement.

Hell Tejano Dems have been on a letter writing kick lately. If they can write about the damn elections administrator, then should damn well write a letter complaining to council about a lack of a proclamation. 

Not a single Latino-based organization was present. Not one. 

But let there be something that gives raza a chance at personal recognition and a forum to fight with each other and the line "Latino leaders" goes around the corner. 

This is almost as bad as the time some idiot at El Paso Community College thought it was a good idea to serve grapes at the Cesar Chavez festivities a few years back.

Maybe the nay sayers are right. A town that is 80% raza and no one shows up for Cesar Chavez Day? Maybe no one will go to an Hispanic Cultural Center.

There is a Marcha for Cesar Chavez in Segundo Barrio tonight. Maybe one ir two elected officials show up. Maybe. You know who will show up? Candidates running for office. I've never seen any of them at a function for Chavez before but they at least will show up tonight.

What is wrong with us raza? It's our fault we are raising a generation that is out of touch with its history. We don't celebrate our own cultural. We can't expect white people to do it for us.

One last thing in this rant. What the hell is wrong with us here in this town that we think it's a good idea to name the wrong stuff after the right people? I know this isn't going to be popular but I'm gonna say it anyway. Why are the schools for screw ups the schools we name after people like Cesar Chavez and Raymond Telles? We should name our schools for the gifted and talented after them, not the troubled youth. 

The Smoke & Mirrors of Transparency in the Municipal Elections

Mayor of Munchkin Land
I tweeted a while back about how the buzzword of this election cycle was the word "transparency" and that it was being used, but with no real substance behind it.

A couple weeks ago I started hearing rumors that there were individuals that were surreptitiously running candidates.

On Saturday at a forum I saw the individual in question and we had a conversation. Immediately I started recognizing talking points. That's when it clicked. I don't know why it took me so long to put it together, but I knew the answer to the question I was about to ask.

So I asked if the rumors I'd heard were true. Since the flying monkey already wrote about it, probably at the behest of the individuals in question, I guess I'll write about it too. But more so because something was said to me in that conversation that has stuck with me and I just can't seem to shake it.

Anywho, remember that I said that Dagda sounded much better and was much more polished? Compare his first interview with me to the one I posted yesterday afternoon. Night and day difference. I also alluded to the fact that he was coached. And he was.

He was coached by Stephanie Townsend-Allala. In Martin Paredes' post he quotes her as saying "no comment" when asked about consulting with political candidates. Well when I spoke to her on Saturday she confirmed that she had. She immediately tried to walk it back and re-characterize her association with candidates, but she did in fact confirm that she was consulting with candidates. She used the plural form of the word.

She eventually said "yeah, but I don't want people to know that I am."

Full disclosure I did tell her I wasn't going to write about it at the time. But we had a separate conversation via FB messenger later that evening because what she had said stuck with me. The part about not wanting people to know. That part really worries and bothers me.

I, very much like Townsend-Allala actually, am always suspicious when someone tells me they don't want people to know something. I immediately question their motives. But it stuck with me more because Allala is an attorney and a journalist and someone who has built a reputation on getting at the truth. Because she was a real journalist, not just some blogger like me, I held her in very high esteem when it came to seeking the truth.

But you can't build a public persona on "transparency" and then express that you want to hide all the facts.

And frankly its really hard to look at this as anything but a classic case of "Wag the Dog". Its actually quite brilliant when you think about it. Help get people into office that you know will be at the best case scenario sympathetic to your issue or worst case scenario beholden to your agenda.

The truth is, Allala wants transparency from current and former members of council on behalf of the public (which I don't necessarily disagree with her), but doesn't appear to want to be transparent about her political activities with candidates that may impact that very public she is advocating on behalf of.

Its do as I say, not as I do.

The secrecy makes no sense. There has been a group of people labeled "the crazies" that used to really be fearful of secret groups that work in the shadows to get a group of candidates into office so that they could enact a certain policy agenda into action.

Remember that? I do. Sounds familiar doesn't it?

This becomes problematic for Townsend-Allala when you consider the fact that she has a pretty clearly identifiable agenda as it relates to city council. She very clearly would like to create the situation where she would have influence over one or more members of council.

There's nothing wrong with trying to influence policy or policy makers. That is the American way. Its the wanting to be secretive about it while at the same time being a transparency watch dog that causes a problem.

Do I have a problem with Townsend-Allala and if what Paredes says is true, Hector Montes consulting with candidates? Not at all. I've never know either of them to have any particular campaign acumen, but what do I care? If someone wants to seek their advice, there's no problem with it.

Do I have a problem with Townsend-Allala trying to influence potential new members of council? Hell no, more power to her. Its smart even. It allows her to have people keep pushing the "transparency" brand in the public and that could keep the issue on the front burner for people. I don't think it helps the candidates themselves more than it hurts them, but I don't its really that much of a big deal.

Its the calling for transparency while wanting to keep her own political activities a secret that I take issue with.

There's a candidate in every race that has been spouting off the transparency talking points. They are all likely connected. I doubt there is an actual contract for consulting and I doubt that Townsend-Allala and Montes are actually getting paid anything so its not likely they will even show up on a campaign finance report.

Some people say that the fact that they could be working with candidates and not show up on a campaign finance report wouldn't be, oh what's the word I'm looking for here?...hmm...oh yeah...TRANSPARENT.

Here's the part where I think it could be tough for the candidates. Just because the issue is really important to the public policy agenda of Townsend-Allala and Montes doesn't mean that it is to voters. So even if candidates are coached and packaged well enough to deliver the message effectively, it doesn't mean that they are delivering a message that voters are going to be receptive to. Good messaging isn't finding a nice way to say something like changing a biker to a "motor cycle enthusiast". Its much more complex than that.

Also, some of these candidates are conservatives and Montes represents a union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 59. That could be problematic for the conservative candidates. And not only that, I think Montes has now become a huge liability to the Local 59. One would think that he has the green light from his employer to go and help out candidates. One would assume that they are only candidates that are endorsed by his employer.

He can't really even say his campaign activities are apart from the Local 59 because we are talking about municipal election and municipal employees make up the bulk of the membership. Running candidates against incumbents is a quick way to deteriorate relations with an entity that you have to bargain with. Especially if those candidates are re-elected. They aren't going to think too highly of any negotiations with any one that is involved with their opponents.

Aside from that, Townsend-Allala doesn't have any campaign experience that I am aware of and after being involved for the last decade, I don't recall ever hearing of her involved with any campaign, even just as a supporter. Montes' experience is a joke. He's run one candidate that I know of and that was Larry Medina when he ran for County Judge.

I remember Montes being very proud of the most inconsequential thing, which underscored his inexperience and lack of knowledge in campaigning, the word "vote" on campaign material. He really thought that having the word "vote" before Medina's name was going to be a major factor.

Stop laughing. I'm serious. He really said that.

I feel bad for Dagda because I feel like he was used. But he's an underdog so of course he will take any advice he can get. It makes sense to. Any port in a storm right?

Later today I will write more about transparency as it relates to District 5 Challenger Rosa Cabrera (Arellano). She has spoken quite a bit about transparency. So we will examine her transparency.

And lets be real, its the elephant in the room no one has talked about...


Monday, March 30, 2015

Hey City Council

Tell your City Attorney that one of her staffers needs some special customer service training.

I put in an open records request to either kill or confirm a rumor a while back. Today I FINALLY got a phone call back from a staffer from the City Attorney's Office.

I've been doing this a long time. I've had to interface with multiple levels of government for information for a long time. I've also been a staffer so I know what its like and I'm pretty patient with them. Their job sucks, their boss sucks, they don't get paid enough, there's never enough time in the day, their family sucks, their significant other sucks, their kids don't listen, someone drank the last cup of coffee, etc...

I get it.

They get yelled about by constituents all damn day long for stuff that isn't their fault, department, or problem. I'm usually the guy that sticks up for staffers and I've given public "atta-boys" in the past.

But...

Its your freakin' job. It doesn't cost any effort to do with a little professionalism and courtesy.

So someone tell the City Attorney that Sol Cortez needs some special assistance on how to treat members of the public. Hell, pass on my number, I'd love to tell the City Attorney all about my lovely conversation with Ms. Cortez Monday.

I have never been treated more rudely by a public servant in my life. And that includes all the trips to the DMV. Hell the DMV is Disneyland compared to how I was treated by Ms. Cortez.

There is a reason that people don't like dealing with city government. People like Cortez might be a big reason why.

NOTE: This isn't a case of me not getting what I asked for. She called me to clarify my request and I assume (hope) that the matter is being attended to, but she was so rude that it called for a special mention. Seriously Ms. Firth, I'd like to hear from you about your staffer. I'd hate to think that this happens to other members of the public.

Video: Interview with City Rep Limon Re: 2 Signature Item

I caught up with Representative Limon after the city council meeting today to get comment on the deletion of the agenda item to require two signatures to get an item heard.

Interestingly Rep Limon says no one from the media asked her about the agenda item.

Post-Fight Interviews

Here's the interviews I conducted with both candidates after the debate. I asked them both about this affidavit that keeps coming up.

I'll start with the incumbent and move on to the challenger.



Niland V Dagda Debate

(Yeah I know, video quality isn't great. My view finder isn't working on my camera and buying a new one isn't in the budget right now. Maybe I'll issue bonds to pay for a new one)

City Rep Cortney Niland and challenger Josh Dagda debated on Saturday morning in front of an audience at the West El Paso Republican Women.

Dagda came out swinging against his opponent basically starting off right from his opening remarks. 

Here's the video, watch it first and then continue to read my analysis. Also, I have some post-debate interviews of each of the candidates in which I cover a couple of important issues raised in the debate. 


I have the benefit of watching the debate a few times before everyone else sees the video I post, so I often have a different perspective after seeing it live the first time.

My first impression is that Josh Dagda, while still not a great communicator, has come a LONG way from just a couple of weeks ago. He appeared much more polished, much more prepared, and a little less awkward than the first time I saw him. 

He began the debate with an impressive offense against Niland. 

As the debate wore on though, Representative Niland started to expose some weaknesses in Dagda. Dagda has been worked with and you could tell. His overall presentation was much stronger and he had some pretty good lines of attack ready to go after his opponent. I also found out WHO was working with him, which is interesting but if you listen close, not surprising. But that's another post for another time...

But what Dagda lacked, was specificity. Dagda definitely said the right thing, pun intended, to the Republican crowd and they were clearly on his side. As the debate continued Niland began to make note of the fact that he said the right things, but didn't offer specifics.

A key example is Dagda's theme throughout the debate. He mentioned several times about cutting taxes and reducing spending, but never offered examples, even after being challenged by Niland, of what services he would propose cutting or what spending he would eliminate. 

I think a key point in the debate was when the two disagreed about an affidavit having to do with the city emails lawsuit. Dagda said Niland didn't sign one. Niland says she did. So that either did happen or it didn't. Someone isn't telling the truth, so I'm going to get to the bottom of it. 

Stay tuned for that one...

Dagda got a little carried away with playing to the crowd. There were a few times in the video you'll notice he backed away from the podium because he was expecting an applause line and it didn't come. 

The people that thought Dagda was going to embarrass himself were all wrong. He didn't embarrass himself and had a strong than expected showing. I think he lost the debate, but overall, Dagda certainly exceeded my expectations even if it started to become one-sided toward the end. One person who was at the debate came up to me afterward and said, "I'm sure glad they finally stopped the water boarding he was getting from Niland". 

The debate ended with an opportunity for both candidates to pose questions to one another. Both of them totally messed up that part. I don't think either of them were expecting that opportunity so Dagda was confused and came up with something on the fly. Niland tossed Dagda a nice big fat softball that he ripped over the fence.

EP City Council Deletes Controversial Item

The El Paso city council deleted an item to require two signatures to get an item on the agenda.

The deletion effectively kills the issue.

There was no explanation made during the meeting as to why it was deleted. 

More details to come.

Bertha Gallardo Consultant Denies Ties to Carlos Sierra

Victor Contreras
Bertha Gallardo campaign consultant Victor Contreras flatly denied any connections between himself or Bertha Gallardo's campaign to another campaign consultant, Carlos Sierra.

Questions arose last week when David K wrote a blind piece about a District 1 candidate Bertha Gallardo hiring "the DWI/child molester consultant from Arizona". Frankly, that rumor started long ago when Gallardo first filed to run for office. 

"That is a completely baseless claim. I don't know where that is coming from but it is obviously untrue...I haven't talked to him in months", replied Contreras when reached by phone last week.

Contreras confirmed that he is consulting with Gallardo, candidate for El Paso city council District 1, but denied any involvement with Carlos Sierra.

The rumor needed to be cleared up because Contreras and Sierra are two different people. According to an article in the El Paso Times, Contreras and Sierra worked together as Sierra Public Affairs on several campaigns in the past for Mayor Leeser, City Reps Lily Limon and Carl Robinson, and former County Judge Candidate Aliana Apodaca. 

Sierra is facing legal issues dealing with felony DUI in Arizona and a charge of indecency with a child here in El Paso. However that case has not been adjudicated yet and there has been no finding of guilt. Anyone can be accused of something and we presume innocence unless and until guilt is proven. That's our system. So its inaccurate and unfair to refer to Sierra as a "child molester" unless he is later found to be guilty.

Contreras is not facing any legal charges at all. Sierra is from El Paso, not from Phoenix. He did work in Phoenix, but he is in fact from El Paso. Contreras is actually from Phoenix and is doing work here in El Paso. Contreras and I grew up in the same part of South Phoenix though he's several years younger that I. 

I also checked with Carlos Sierra to see if he was consulting with Gallardo and he indicated that he was not in this exchange on Twitter:


As you can see, Sierra not only indicated that he wasn't working with Gallardo, he indicated that he is not involved with any campaigns at this time. 

This rumor was a case of mistaken identity.

**************

Now, let me tell you why that rumor was going around in the first place and why it had legs. People in political circles (I among them) wondered who was going to work on Gallardo's campaign because she seemed to be a formidable candidate that was getting in the race at the last minute. Since there are only a few people in town that actually know how to run a campaign (there are plenty that say they do), everyone wondered who she has getting. 

This article I mentioned earlier in the El Paso Times linked Contreras and Sierra together. In the article Sierra, when questioned about the future, says "I'm not going to disappear."

The article also later says that he had a list of elected officials that he wanted to put out of office including County Judge Veronica Escobar, County Commissioner Vince Perez, and City Representative Emma Acosta. 

The parting quote from Sierra in that article says, "I'm not done with El Paso politics...there's a lot more to be done."'

Its likely due to the success the duo had racking up three victories that have caused people to pay attention to them and account for them in their own individual campaign efforts. Since they worked on those three campaigns together before taking a beat down in the County Judge's race, people will likely connect the two for quite some time. 

But think about it, don't you have friends that you used to have that you don't speak to anymore? 

QUICK SIDEBAR: I missed this back then, but the article says that Mayor Leeser paid Sierra $26,000 just to do social media for his campaign. That is either complete bovine excrement or the worst business move in the history of bad spending. I have a tough time believing that a candidate that has over 20 years of honing his image in advertising would not know that spending $26,000 to someone to only do their social media is absurd. You gotta be kidding me Mayor. I think that was near my annual salary when I first joined the Army. Actually, its probably more than I made annually as a soldier. 

Probably the biggest reason that this rumor had such legs is likely because of Sierra's quotes. He essentially pulls a Terminator saying I'll be back! So that has caused people to be on the look-out. 

Sierra was likely just giving an emotional response to an event that happened that was really stressful for him. Fight or flight instincts kick in when your back is against the wall. Political types are the type that fight, so those quotes in the paper where likely emotionally fueled. 

The bottom line here is that Victor Contreras who at one point was working with Carlos Sierra but is no longer doing so, is working for Bertha Gallardo's campaign, not Carlos Sierra. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hinojosa on Religion

Manny Hinojosa and I had a conversation today at the West El Paso Republican Women meeting and debate before the festivities began.

It was a spirited discussion about a previous post I wrote regarding politics and religion.

He gave me his position on religion and rather than try to summarize it myself, I thought I'd post video of him explaining it himself.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Niland - Dagda Square Off Tomorrow

City Representative Cortney Niland and challenger Josh Dagda will face off in a debate tomorrow morning. The forum is sponsored by the West El Paso Republican Women and the moderator is Becky Hermosillo.

The actual forum starts at 9:30am and is part of the West El Paso Republican Women regular monthly meeting.

This will be the first time voters will be able to get a side-by-side comparison between the two candidates that are vying for the District 8 seat currently held by Representative Niland.

This is kind of an inside baseball thing, but I actually enjoy the West El Paso Republican Women debate because its always a well-run forum. Hermosillo asks probing questions and people walk away feeling like they learned something. Forums have a tendency to either be a "gotcha-fest" or a bore-fest of crappy generalized questions.

Hermosillo does a good job of keeping the debate flowing well and asking the right questions. She's even had Democrats attend the forums. So I'm looking forward to this one.

I'll live tweet the debate and you can follow me at www.twitter.com/TheLionStarBlog to keep up.

I'll do post-fight interviews with the candidates as well.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Signature Rant Part 2

The more I think about this signature thing, the more it bothers me.

First, lets clear a few things up. Again, this is aimed at Limon. Lets be real about that. Its designed to try to make her play nice-nice with other members of council. This has nothing to do with the merits of an agenda item and everything to do with just sticking it to Limon.

And trust me, if the rumors I am following up on involving a smear campaign of a high-ranking city official through a reporter are true, then I can see why people are so upset with her. But even if the rumors are true, its still not okay!

Second, stop saying this is about saving time. Having been staff, I can tell you that you know the elected members of a body that go to work every day and those that only show up on meeting days. Anyone who pretends that all the elected officials show up to work every day at city council are full of it. Most do, but certainly not all. So its not like you're killing yourselves with your 4 day work week.

And if you were really interested in saving time, you'd stop with all the damn proclamations that take up the first freakin' hour of a city council meeting. But you guys won't because you all dig the photo op.

Now lets say that David K, who wrote a piece on this today that has some strong arguments, is correct and this is part of an effort to get members of council to stop blind-siding other members of council with issues or lack of back-up materials, then that is a legitimate concern.

It is also a concern that can be fixed without requiring signatures of other members of council. Pass a rule that says No Back-up, No Posting.

Or here's an idea...grow a pair and call out the member of council that does that and say "I move to postpone this item until Representative _______ provides some mutha-luvin' back-up".

Mutha-lovin' is optional. You can leave that part out if you like.

You do that enough times and keep score of how often it happens and poof, you now have something to use at election time against the member in question.

The bottom line here is that this is an elitist policy. If I am her constituent, I get to decide what I like and don't like. I get to decide if I want to fire her. This decision effectively says that people who represent other parts of the city need to give that district's representative their permission to post something on the agenda.

Um...kiss my brown ass!

If I think its okay for my representative to post an agenda item every week that says we should make the #4 combo plate at La Pila on Alameda the official menu of every city function, then dios mio, that is up to me. Not someone who lives in the Northeast!

If I don't like it, I can fire her. But if she's my representative, I get to call the shots thank you very much.

I'm the constituent, is it okay with you all if I decide what I think is best?

Trejo Voted New Head of the El Paso County Council of Judges

County Court Judge Alma Trejo has been voted by her peers the new head of the El Paso County Council of Judges.

Trejo will replace Judge Patrick Garcia who was not in the running for the post. District Court Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza was the other front-runner for the position.

Judge Trejo presides over County Court at Law #1 which hears misdemeanor cases.

The Council of Judges performs several functions, including appointing and supervising the El Paso County Auditor, but does not have to abide by the Texas Open Meetings Act.

In other business conducted at today's meeting, the Council voted to adopt a resolution in opposition to a bill in the Texas legislature that would allow the various county commissioners courts to participate in the selection process of the auditor. Under the proposed bill the structure would call for a 5 person panel in urban counties to make the selection, made up of three judges, the County Judge, and one member of the Court.

Breaking: Socorro City Manager Resignation



There aren't many details yet but Socorro City Manager Willie Norfleet is resigning his post as Socorro City Manager.

Norfleet has been with the City of Socorro for the past few years. He was previously the city manager for the City of Compton, California.

There are no details yet has to why he has resigned or what the plan is moving forward. 

More details as I get them.

UPDATE: 


Cabrera (Arellano) Solicits Demo Support; Quotes Reagan

District 5 challenger Rosa Cabrera (Arellano) has had a rough 24 hours. Fresh off her scene at the parks meeting last night (see below), Arellano sent out an email about an hour ago to members of the El Paso Democratic Party soliciting their support.

The email went to several prominent Democrats including Iliana Holguin (Secretary of the County Executive Commitee), Rebeca Bustamante (head of the PDN Tejano Democrats), and Precinct Chairs Michael Apodaca and Othon Medina among others.

I tried to block that actual email addresses in this screen shot of the email.



But the most interesting part of the email is the end where after asking for their support and laying out her platform, she closes the email with a quote from a Republican.

I'm not making that up. See for yourself:


The email was replied to by one of the recipients, Rebeca Bustamante, who made her point pretty clear, "As an Eastsider and a Democrat I feel it’s important to enlighten you on our rules. Texas Democratic Party rules prohibit supporting Republican candidates. Voting records indicate you voted Republican in the last primary election cycle. The fact that you closed your email with a quote from a Republican further underscores that point."

Michael Apodaca had some practical advice for Cabrera (Arellano). Here's what he said: Just want to give you two tips from one former candidate to another:
1) BBC  (blind carbon copy) your emails.   Folks can see who you email and then have a tendency to reply all in either positive or negative comments and then it becomes an email chain mess as I'm doing right now. 
2) know your audience: I thank you for emailing us to ask for support which you should do, however, ending your email with a quote from a republican president that most democrats don't like isn't going to win you friends. 
Good luck! 

Mike


Hey, at least our team is nice enough to wish her luck! dvice. Here's a quote from his replay.

But the face-palming doesn't stop there folks!

Cabrera actually responded to Bustamante with the following email that has the same quote and denotes her position as Area Director of a conservative Christian organization that stands opposed to almost every core tenant of the Democratic Party. I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Cabrera voted in far more than one Republican Primary. That's not very, oh what's the word I'm looking for here...uh..oh I know...TRANSPARENT!



Cabrera (Arellano) Alleges Corruption; Crowd Confused

Last night City Representative Michiel Noe had a community meeting regarding the new eastside regional park. The park, when completed, will be twice the size of Album park and will be the largest park in the city of El Paso.

There were about 100 constituents that attended the meeting.

While the constituents were there to see what the design and amenities of the park looked like, it appears that at least one constituent went to the meeting for a different purpose. Representative Noe's opponent Rosa Cabrera (Arellano) asked to speak and accused Representative Noe of corruption (video below).

But based on this Facebook post, it looks like Cabrera (Arellano) may have actually attended the event with the express purpose of having an audience.


Ms. Cabrera (Arellano) appeared to have been accompanied only by children to the meeting.

As you can see in this video, Cabrera (Arellano) took an opportunity to ask a question of Representative Noe during the meeting about how much land had been donated. She followed up with a question about streets, followed by an allegation of corruption.

Watch the video and then I'll explain in further detail.


It is interesting to note that the meeting took place within a school and was an official city meeting. As you saw in the video Representative Noe points that issue out and Cabrera (Arellano) likely opened the door to an official complaint for violating campaign rules. 

Also as you can see in the video, the crowd didn't react to her allegation of corruption. No one understood what exactly she was alleging was corrupt, so let me walk you through it. 

Cabrera (Arellano) asked Representative Noe a question about the developer and the land that was donated to the city for the park. The crowd didn't know this, but that was actually some political gamesmanship on the part of Cabrera (Arellano). She actually knew the answer to the question.

I noticed she posted this update to Facebook earlier in the meeting. 


She likes posting pictures of herself.

Once Representative Noe answered her question, she then asked if the city of El Paso was going to pay for the streets. Noe explained that streets (pavement actually because the plans don't call for any new streets for the park) would be paid for by the city because it would be within the park. Any streets made for the development are paid for by the developer because it is the responsibility of the developer.

Here's where things got confusing. Cabrera (Arellano) called that a "sweet deal".

So let me make sure we're all on the same page. The developer donated 92 acres of land that he could've developed or sold to the city of El Paso. Either way, he missed out on profit by donating the land to the tax payers. Then, on the land that he may develop in the future, he has to foot the bill for any streets he puts in.

And that is a "sweet deal"?

Maybe she meant for the tax payers, in which case I would agree. We got one sweet deal.

Cabrera (Arellano) repeated that it was a "sweet deal, and for me that's corruption".

Based on her comments in the video and in the Facebook post she appears to be alleging that some sort of exception was made for the developer. She never says what exception, but I think she meant the streets. Maybe she doesn't understand city policy but the city doesn't pay for streets in new development. That is the responsibility of the developer. The city has always paid for pavement and parking lots in parks. Like every other municipality in the country.

I don't know where she was going with the stuff about no more pocket parks, but I have other video where Representative Noe actually talks about pocket parks. I'll post that one later. But the point is, Cabrera (Arellano) from a campaign perspective, seems to be a little tone-deaf when it comes to the audience. Why would someone go into a community meeting, probably the largest I've ever seen for a city rep, where a fancy new voter-approved future park was being shown off and then turn around and be critical of the project?

I think that is also part of the reason the audience sat in stunned silence. Most of those people probably vote. They have a nice new shiny park on the way. Why would she go into that environment with that message looking for support? The whole thing was confusing.

Frankly the audience was far more interested in the beef between skaters and BMX'ers over park turf.

Regardless of your feelings on the park, leveling an allegation like corruption is very serious. This could be problematic for Cabrera (Arellano).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Council's School Yard Bully Policy

City council decided to explore the idea of requiring two signatures for an item to be put on the city agenda.

Let me be clear, this is a bad idea wrapped up in slick rhetoric.

While it may be an old expression that rules are meant to be broken, the reality is that rules are meant to protect the minority.

Before I get into all the ways this is a terrible policy, lets start with speaking a little truth to power.

Council should be honest about what this rule really is. It really should be called the We Are All Sick of Lily Limon Rule. Anyone who doesn't realize that this is a rule that is one big giant city-sanctioned F-U to Limon is either lying or stupid.

I can't even call it "thinly-veiled" with a straight face. This is overt. You know how you know? Because they require two signatures. Typically Limon only has one ally on council and its Representative Robinson. So she will usually be a short vote unless another council member agrees to sign off.

And what does that create? Something for the other reps to hold over her head.

Has Limon earned it?

Yeah, probably. Maybe if she were just less obstructive and nicer to people they wouldn't dislike her so much, but the whole seating thing wore everyone's patience thin, including the public.

But does it make it right? Hell no it doesn't.

Lets get into why this is a terrible idea. First of all, it doesn't pass the smell test. What problem are you really solving? Oh the meetings last too long?

Give me a break! I'm sorry your one-day a freakin' week job that you campaigned for in the first place is inconveniencing you by forcing you to be there so long. Boo-freakin'-hoo. Hell the city is only open 4 days of the week as it is!

Thats why its called public SERVICE.

Is it done at other levels? Yeah sometimes. Do I even need to give the if-other-levels-of-government-told-you-to-jump-off-a-bridge sermon?

But every level of government uses rules to screw over someone else. Especially in state and federal government. Its almost a blood sport how state and federal government use process to kill something rather than use it to facilitate good government.

Plus other levels of government have a whole lot more members that can be approached to sign off on a bill. Literally there are hundreds to choose from. Council has 7, 8 if the mayor can be one of the people to sign off. So you essentially need 1/4 of council to sign off to even have something put on an agenda. That is why its slick rhetoric wrapped around a bad idea. Because no legislature would require 1/4 of its body to sign off on a bill in order for it to be filed.

I can't believe that was a serious argument.

Frankly I think Limon gives a crappy argument against the policy as well. Walking quorums are the easiest thing to get around and the hardest things to prove. You're better off trying to prove the Loch Ness Monster is loose in the Rio Grande. Representatives always talk amongst themselves before an agenda item is discussed in council, including Limon. I know that for a fact.

This is a policy that is usually done by school boards and municipalities that can't get along and it is almost always done as some slick way to screw over someone in the minority. In fact, the intent is typically much more sinister. It is meant for the majority to be able to ram home their agenda with basically no lube and provides the minority with no way to offer their own policy initiatives.

Would you like an example? Well I'm glad you asked. You know who does crap like this?

This guy:


For those of you that don't recall, that is former Socorro City Council Cappo Jesse Gandara, Jr. He calls himself "El Teflon" these days. I know, leave it to a Gandara to think mafia nicknames are a good idea, but really he's the only one that refers to himself by that name on his little fake Facebook page that everyone knows he runs. Most everyone else just calls him Little Jesse.

Gandara spearheaded this exact rule while he controlled the majority on Socorro City Council. He made the EXACT same argument about how it made the meetings more efficient. But really, it was just a way to ensure that his council nemesis Maria Reyes was prevented from putting forth agenda items.

Point blank it was a way to oppress the opposition and minority.

School yard bullying at its finest. All the popular kids are picking on the slow, poor, fat kid with piojos.

I get it, Limon is a pain in the rear for you sometimes. I get it. No one really debates that.

You guys aren't the first group of people to have co-workers you don't like. Figure out a better way to deal with it than this.

Every one of the efficiency enhancements that were packaged in this argument can be implemented without requiring two signatures.

Two signatures is one more ally than she has on council. So the bullies get to take her homework from her and hold it over her head, just out of her reach. Nice, way to go city council.

What problem is really being solved here?

None, other than the rest of council can get out of their meetings a little faster.

This essentially undermines the spirit of free speech. It disenfranchises the constituents that are represented by Representative Limon. If they don't like her being a time-waster they can always vote her out. Trust that constituents are smart enough to pick their own leaders. They shouldn't have their voice minimized by a Gandara-style ploy at oppressing the minority opinion.

Give me a freakin' break.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

San Eli ISD - I Can't Believe This is Legal

You know when you play a role in the birth of a city, you really care about what happens to the community. You aren't going to believe this one, but its true.

The spouse of a current board member is challenging another board member for their seat on the San Elizario School Board.

Berenice Barragan is challenging Armando Martinez for his seat on the SEISD. Barragan is married to Joe Rodriguez, a current board member. I've spent the last couple of hours searching around the internet and can't anything that would make this illegal. It is apparently legit.

Maybe its a valley thing because in Clint, the mayor is Dale Reinhardt and his wife is also on city council. She used to be Willie Gandara's teacher and she chewed my ass one day at a community meeting because she really likes Willie. Not sure why she blamed me but Willie's problems got nutin' to do with me lady.

Anywho, back to San Eli, community members are concerned about having a husband and wife duo on the board together. They are concerned that it just gives Rodriguez another vote on the board.

If you are wondering why Barragan has a different last name than her husband, relax. She's always used Barragan, they weren't trying to hide the fact that they are spouses. Its San Elizario, trust me everyone knows who is married.

This is why we have school board elections. So that the community can pick their leadership. They have to decide if they think its a wise course of action to have spouses both serve on the board at the same time.

The Education Group Supporting Candidates

There is an education-based group Kids Reform/Children First, that is funded by a local big shot business man that is supporting school board candidates. The organization has several goals, most prominent of which are charter schools, vouchers, etc.

Sources indicate that this PAC-style group uses wealthy donors to provide campaign funds to candidates individually.

I'll get more information on the group and how those funds are being leveraged. Based on some of the materials I've seen I think I have a pretty good idea already.

Body Count Rising in Tornillo Under Dr. Chavez

Relax genter, I haven't forgotten about Tornillo. But its election season and there's only one of me.

Sources within the district office at Tornillo ISD indicate that after all the cameras left, there is still no nurse at the district.

And things, according to the source, have gotten worse under Dr. Chavez.

The Human Resource Department no longer exists. Sources indicate that Dr. Chavez applied pressure by giving them additional work to make the environment more and more uncomfortable for that department staff. Now they are gone and sources in the district office are frustrated at the fact that there is apparently no plan to get that department up and running again. The duties of the department have essentially been divided up among the administrative clerks.

The morale of staff is now at an all time low. Many fear getting on the Superintendent's bad side for fear of losing their jobs. Sources indicate that any grievance that would be filed by an employee are no longer handled by the HR department that no longer exists, but rather by Dr. Chavez herself. Many of the grievances are AGAINST Dr. Chavez. You can see why that is a problem right?

There is also no facilities manager in the district.

And yet if I'm reading the agenda correctly for tomorrow night's board meeting, there is apparently a move to create a new position within the district that essentially amounts to an assistant superintendent. Many in the district office are complaining that its going to be just another high-paid crony of hers from EPISD.

Tomorrow night's meeting should be interesting...