Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slick Eddie Indeed

I need to set the record straight about pay and staff at the city. David K wrote an interesting piece in his blog earlier this week where he mentioned that City Rep Eddie Holguin has two staffers that work for his office full time.

As David K puts it:

Of course, Holguin has a perfectly good explanation for the size of his staff - their pay comes out of his office budget. Okay, problem solved. Obviously, he is saying that it's okay for him to have more full-time staff because they are paid out of his "office budget."

Wait a minute....

All staff for all of the representatives are paid out of their respective office budgets! We've been tricked!

Or have we?

Nice try Mr. Holguin. I guess you didn't think we'd realize that your inclusion of the obvious was just a way to cover up your big spending. It's easy to vote against the budget... it's harder to actually live by the budget cutting mantra. You remind me of Haggerty - always against spending money when it comes to your vote, but happy to participate in the spending of the money when you don't get your way.

That's interesting because I did a little digging of my own. Here's what I was able to find out. ALL city reps, yes even the ones David K likes, get the same amount of money in terms of operational budget.

There is no money being "saved" by sharing staff. It's not like they are returning the money to council.

Over the last few years, their operational budget, which includes staff salary, incidental expenses like printing and publication, etc., has gone down every year.

And thanks to City Rep Ann Lily, the discretionary funds each member of council is assigned has been cut in half.

The money that would've gone to another staffer remains in each council member's budget. The question becomes, what does that money get spent on?

Interestingly David K also rightly points out that "Representatives Quintana, Acosta and Holguin all have two distinct staffers with Holguin being the only one with two full-time employees."

Which is also interesting because Representative Robinson has one employee, but two offices. He has one at city hall and one in the district.

Representative Holguin had some interesting things to say about David K's version of the facts when I bought the piece to his attention. He said, "I don't care if he doesn't like me, but he should at least call because he doesn't have a command of the issues. He's obviously upset because I've had to correct him before."

Holguin also said, "...he's still upset because the last time I was on the radio with him I whooped him..."

Holguin says that everyone in council gets the same budget. When asked about why he has two full-time staffers while others share staffers he said, "I chose not to degrade the level of service that my constituency is used to".

But while we are talking about reduction in staff that could make a difference in the city's balance sheet, lets examine City Manager Joyce Wilson's office. The City Manager has an Executive Assistant, 1 Public Relations person, and 4 Deputy City Managers. Those salaries amount to $850,000 annually. Holguins assistance make less than $80,000 per year...COMBINED.

That $850,000 doesn't take in to account the subordinate administrative personnel that each Deputy City Manager has on their staff.

Holguin runs his district with two subordinates that cost the tax-payers less than $80K combined. The City Manager's staff costs the taxpayer's $850k.

Slick Eddie indeed.

Yes, They Are Out of Their Minds

Take a look around in the political landscape in this country and you will see one universal truth. Latinos are quickly becoming a larger group by the day. The El Paso Picayune and the Texas Tribune have been running pieces about demographics relative to the Latino community and its emerging influence in America’s political arena.

FOX News “dumbs down” the complexities of hot button issues to a few talking points or phrases so that they are suitable for mass consumption. Think of “shock and awe”, “cut and run”, “drill baby drill”, and most recently, “securing our borders”.

The result of this effective means of communications is capitalization of the naïveté of people and creating a favorable public dialogue. Large sums of people actually believe that the solution to the complexities of migration is “securing” the borders.

There is not a Border Patrol Sector Chief that believes their sector of the border is not secure.

The idea of immigrating “the right way” is another expression of the naïveté of the masses. Many people will proudly thump their chests saying that “my ancestors did it the right way”, which demonstrates their ignorance. Most of what we know consider immigration law was not enacted until relatively recently.

That’s a historic fact.

Its policy that needs to be changed. Merely throwing more money (I thought they didn’t want big government and lots of spending?), allocating more resources, and deploying troops to the border doesn’t do anything to make us safer or alleviate the problem of the undocumented.

At what point will they consider the border “secure”? Is it when our border along the south looks like the one that once divided Berlin? If memory serves, I seem to remember a charismatic President and former Governor of California giving a speech at that wall proudly challenging the Soviet Union, “Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall!”

He was a Republican if memory serves. Now the same party thinks that’s good policy?
And if the GOP has all the answers, what the hell are they going to do AFTER the border is “secure”? What is their plan?

They don’t have one.

The beauty of their tactic is to focus on securing the border because it’s a subjective goal. They can continue to pour money in to border militarization indefinently because the idea of a “secure” border is subjective. They can pretend they are actually doing something for many years and the naïve masses will buy it because the idea of a “secure” border in a post 9-11 world gives them a warm and fuzzy. It helps them sleep well at night.

If those that are opposed to Comprehensive Immigration Reform were truly interested in fixing the problem, they would be advocating for smart immigration policy. You know, things that actually make sense.

Like disincentives illegal immigration by coming up with common-sense policies that actually alleviate the situation rather than exacerbate an already out-of-control problem. Here’s an easy fix for example, make more visas available to low-skilled workers. That is a win-win situation for EVERYONE. The business owner will have more access to a legally documented work pool, the immigrant can freely work in this country, and there is a better means of identifying actual security risks as opposed to cleaning ladies.

But that one is a hard sell to conservatives because you can’t dumb it down to a cutsey little catch phrase.

What is really troublesome in this country is to see Raza supporting legislation like that of Arizona SB 1070. Groups like the Arizona Latino Republican Association. Its very sad to see people co-opted for a short-term political agenda. Those individuals need to look in the mirror and ask themselves a very difficult question.

Do you honestly believe that there is a time in the near future that the Republican party will look at you as anything more than “the help”?

Even if massa’ brings you in the from fields to work inside the house, isn’t it still slavery?

The answer is yes.

But in the short term, you will see groups within the GOP put the brown faces within their ranks in front of the cameras and the talking points about the American Dream, “the right way”, legal immigration, and border security will come flooding out of their mouths so that the Republicans can put forth an image that is false.

They want people to believe that there are throngs of minorities in the Republican party so that they don’t come across as being racist. But the sad reality is that minorities are truly minorities in the Republican party.

As soon as the issue dies down and the Republicans take back Congress, the people of color in the Republican party will be pushed aside again in favor of the traditional country club crowd.

And so to those of you who are Latino and supporting SB 1070, ask yourself one question. What are you doing supporting legislation that was written by white-supremacists? That’s the dirty little secret the GOP has been trying to suppress.

The actual author of the legislation is in fact a white supremacist.

Check your moral compass hermanos.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Calling People Out!

I don't know this vato, but I have to say I am a fan of the fact that he took the time to go around downtown El Paso and shoot video of buildings and call people out BY NAME!

That's speaking truth to power!

Show Updates

Jaime O. Perez will be on my show tomorrow starting at 10am MST. Tune in to hear the interview.

Jaime O. Perez is a Republican candidate for El Paso County Judge and will be facing Democratic Party nominee, County Commissioner Veronica Escobar in the November general election.

Perez is currently the Chief of Staff for County Judge Anthony Cobos.

They Say Theres One in Every Family...

And apparently there is one in every city!

Read this article and tell me who it reminds you of.

I especially like this quote from the piece:

"It's reality show politics," Gaddie said. "It's unsavory. It's undignified, and it's real."

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Blog Features

Just wanted to point out a couple of new features on The Lion Star Blog. First, members of the big time media and candidates in town, take special note. I have added a copyright section.

What that means is that if you are going to jack my shit, at least get permission and give credit. It also means that if you are going to use something of mine in an ad, once again get permission and give credit. I don't get paid to do a lot of the stuff I do in terms of collecting content, so at least give me a little acknowledgement every now and then.

And, if you missed anything in terms of multimedia, feel free to go check out my audio and video archives. I have posted a link to both archives and am working on one for photos too. Stay tuned for that!

Mayor Pro Tem – Following the Charter

So I was reading a piece on another blog about Mayor Pro Tem Emma Acosta and her apparent refusal to give up the position of Mayor Pro Tem.

Let me explain a few things for those of you who might not know. As with everything in El Paso politics, there is more than meets the eye here. First of all, you aren’t elected for life to the position of Mayor Pro Tem, it’s a term of two years.

Mention was made of a little “tradition” of giving the seat up after a year of service in the post. That’s really interesting because I went back and found that the last couple of Mayor Pro Tem’s actually served a year and a half.

But the term of the Mayor Pro Tem is actually set forth in the City Charter. The Mayor and Council don’t actually have the power to make little “traditions” when it comes to things set forth in the City Charter. You see, the voters actually voted the Charter in, so they are the ultimate authority.

That’s why I don’t understand the critique of Acosta or the characterization of little Napoleon. All she’s doing is compiling with the will of the people, which is in accordance with the City Charter.

That would be the opposite of Napoleon.

Nonetheless, it is clear that there is a plan in the works to take advantage of the title Mayor Pro Tem. Word around the 10th floor is that one faction wants Acosta to give up the title so that it can be given to City Rep Ann Lily, who has decided to run for re-election and will need everything she can get in order to hang on to her seat when Oscar Leeser runs against her.

Seriously, without that title, what else can she point to as an accomplishment?(Unless they come up with a Conquistador Award for falling asleep the most in meetings. Which, by the way, is a joke, but you couldn’t blame her really. City Council and most of the players involved are about the most drab uninteresting group of people I’ve seen since the last convention of librarians over 70!)

Podcast: Audio of Jose Rodriguez Healthcare Forum

In case you weren't able to make it to Jose Rodriguez's Healthcare Forum, here is the audio from that event.

You can always access my library of recordings (I'm trying to post archives of old interviews bit, by bit) by going to this link.


Most of Unpaid Youth Workers Work @ EP County

Last week’s revelation by the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Solutions that 30 youth didn’t receive pay came as a shock to at least one member of El Paso County Commissioner’s Court.

It turns out that 22 of the reported 30 youth that did not receive pay work at the El Paso County Courthouse. According to an interview with KVIA, the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Solutions (URGWS) characterized the non-payments as a result of “missing documentation by the young employees.”

El Paso County Commissioner Anna Perez sees it much differently. Perez said that the pay issues were more likely the fault of the URGWS, rather than that of the students. “Workforce Solutions was just not prepared logistically.”

Perez said that she’s spoken with the El Paso County Human Resources Director Betsy Keller and after speaking with her regarding the pay of the youth, Perez went on to say that the system to gather the necessary paperwork from the youth on the part of URGWS was “logistically not coordinated”.

Perez said she was going to contact members of the URGWS board to bring these issues to their attention.

“As an attorney, I feel this is extremely egregious.” She went on to say that she felt that as an attorney she had an added level of responsibility to ensure that these youth get their pay.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Progress for Rep-Elect Naomi Gonzalez?

Still no sight of State Rep Elect Naomi Gonzalez at any Democratic Party event since her election.

Actually, the last time she was at any event that was remotely affiliated with the Democratic Party was before her election when the PDN Tejano Democrats awarded her with a $1000 check in a gas station parking lot on Delta.

Despite a meeting with at least on senior member of the El Paso Democratic party in which he pleaded with Gonzalez to come in to the Democratic Party fold, Gonzalez still hasn't been to any events and has not eased the tensions of many in the party who believe she's actually a Republican.

But I did notice a glimmer of hope recently. At Jose Rodriguez' forum on Health Care, I spotted Gonzalez' campaign manager in the back of the room taking copious notes. One would assume it was for her boss.

At least Gonzalez has her people at Democratic Party events...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Confusing Circumstances

The precinct chairs of the Democratic Party could quite possible be in a position to make an important decision that will impact El Paso County. It’s a little complicated, so bear with me…

I like to think that I’m pretty good at recognizing political maneuvers when I see them. I don’t always catch them, but I do most of the time.
Every once in a while, something happens right in front of my face and I completely miss it. When Senator Shapleigh decided to retire, I realized when the story broke that he practically told me he was going to retire during an interview two weeks before and I didn’t realize it.
That interview haunts me. Every time I watch it, I want to smack myself on the back of the head for not realizing what the Senator was saying and for missing two big follow up questions.

It almost happened again.


So here’s what I just realized on Monday night during the El Paso Young Democrats meeting. Christina Fenstermacher, who is the chair of a group of Northeast Democrats, and the daughter of Yolanda Clay, made a comment that got my attention and by the time her sentence was done, I realized it was that I had missed. (I’m not implying she’s connected to anything, it was just her comment that crystallized several bits of information that I had that now formed a clear picture.)

Her comment was about precinct chairs and I interpreted it as a bit of a shot at the newly unanimously-elected SDEC, Don Williams. Williams happened to be on the very same table at the opposite end. The comment that was made was about the importance of getting all the precinct chair positions filled and having precinct chairs that actually work and are not just precinct chairs to vote for a particular person to be SDEC.

Which is interesting because its not just precinct chairs that vote for SDEC, its any delegate, but that’s a whole other story I guess.
Anyway, it was that comment that was my eureka moment. I’d been noticing a buzz and sense of urgency around the party about filling precinct chairs. Representative Norma Chavez has actually done a pretty good job of getting her supporters placed in vacant seats.

Precinct chairs are the backbone of the party and they are a constant battleground for control, so maneuvering around placement of precinct chairs isn’t something new.

But there is something even more interesting in this latest round of maneuvers.

I didn’t realize it at first, but it has to do with two judges at the courthouse.

In a weird little process quirk, the Precinct Chairs of the Democratic Party could possibly be the ones with the chance to nominate candidates to replace Judge Javier Alvarez IF the vacancy occurs before August 19th, 2010.

It’s a whole lot easier (and cheaper) to win an election with a group of less than 50 than it is to mount a countywide campaign.

Think about it, this is a potentially very valuable decision the PC’s are going to make. Judicial seats are highly coveted and often very competitive. It is much easier when you have the ability to establish yourself as the incumbent before the next election. It will also cost a potential candidate nothing in terms of time, treasure, and talent.

There are several groups within the PC’s that are quietly make moves to ensure they are best positioned to play king-maker.

Unexplored Territory

But the process to replace the judges (if Barraza and Arditti need to be replaced) isn’t crystal clear. In terms of replacing the District Judges, the replacement will come from the Governor’s office. (That means a Republican will keep the seat warm until the next election when a Democrat will win the election.)

The question of the County Courts is a little trickier. If Alvarez is confirmed by the US Senate before the 19th, then the PC’s make the decision. Based on the pace of the Senate, I’m not optimistic that the decision will be made before that date. So if the vacancy occurs after the 19th, it is unclear exactly who makes the decision, though its my understanding that confirmation of the process is currently being explored.
There’s a couple of possible scenarios, so let’s talk about them.

Scenario #1-Since the court in question is a county court, then Judge Cobos makes the decision about who gets the seat.

Scenario #2 – County Commissioner’s Court makes the decision as to who gets the seat.

Scenario #3- Judge Cobos nominates a replacement and Commissioner’s Court votes on it.

Scenario #4 – There will be an election. The question is when? In November? Doubtful considering that no one would even begin to move on that scenario until after the 19th of August. That means it would be early or mid September before the issue went to Commissioner’s Court, and that doesn’t leave a lot of time before the November election. So does that mean there is another special election? The cost of a special election would absolutely be a controversy.

Floating Names

I’ve heard two names that are interested in the judgeship. I’ve heard El Paso County Democratic Party Chair Danny Anchondo is interested in the bench. His name is never too far away when it comes to discussions about open seats in a court.

In fact, very shortly after the election, at least one member of Commissioner’s Court told me they were approached by Anchondo seeking their support for Alvarez’s seat. Anchondo allegedly went so far as to request a “commitment” of support for the position.

I’ve also heard that Sergio Coronado might be a name that is considered to be nominated to fill the seat if the vacancy doesn’t open before August 19th.

I called Coronado to find out if he was going to be nominated. Coronado said he hadn’t heard anything about being nominated, but he did confirm that he was interested in pursuing the seat. In fact, Coronado added that he had considered running for a judgeship in the last election but decided to try for a policy decision one last time.

Coronado also indicated that if he wasn't considered for this vacancy, he would pursue another judicial seat in the next election.

At any rate, Coronado would have to be considered a front runner for a judgeship, either by election or appointment given his back ground and familiarity with voters.

Stay tuned on this one…

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stupid Tea Party

I love how people in the Tea Party do their best to try to act like its not a collection of crazy nuts.

Thankfully, there is the internet to remind us daily just how stupid they can really be.

There was a piece in The Onion, which is a JOKE website, that the Tea Partiers thought was real!!!

Click here to see the fun!

LSL Thursday / Friday

Just a quick heads up, County Commissioner Veronica Escobar will be my guest on Thursday's edition of The LionStar Live! so tune in.

Friday will be another edition of Homeboy Friday's and we'll have a comedian join us and Czr will be back for another shot at the plate.

Tune in to Talk Radio 1150 starting at 10:00am MST.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rove Visits El Paso

The El Paso Republican Party hosted Karl Rove at a fundraiser earlier this week.

From what I understand the trip went over really well with the Republicans in town and I'm told he was very engaging and worked the room.

Last time he came a couple of years ago, Dee Margo seemed to keep him at a distance. This time around I think it'll be a different story.

I went looking through my archives and found this video from a couple of years ago.

Sound Familiar?

Great piece by David Brooks. Its about Mel Gibson, but I think it fits someone else perfectly.

Here's a taste, and you'll see what I mean:

"The narcissistic person is marked by a grandiose self-image, a constant need for admiration, and a general lack of empathy for others. He is the keeper of a sacred flame, which is the flame he holds to celebrate himself.

There used to be theories that deep down narcissists feel unworthy, but recent research doesn't support this. Instead, it seems, the narcissist's self-directed passion is deep and sincere.

His self-love is his most precious possession. It is the holy center of all that is sacred and right. He is hypersensitive about anybody who might splatter or disregard his greatness. If someone treats him slightingly, he perceives that as a deliberate and heinous attack. If someone threatens his reputation, he regards this as an act of blasphemy. He feels justified in punishing the attacker for this moral outrage.

And because he plays by different rules, and because so much is at stake, he can be uninhibited in response. Everyone gets angry when they feel their self-worth is threatened, but for the narcissist, revenge is a holy cause and a moral obligation, demanding overwhelming force."

Who does this remind you of locally?

Click here to read the piece.

Its worth the read, trust me.

I smell a new nickname coming for a certain high-profile attorney in town...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Troubling Times

Turns out there is a little more to the exclusion of the El Paso Times' reporter Ramon Bracamontes from a recent press conference called by Theresa Caballero and Stuart Leeds than meets the eye.

When the additional charges against Regina Arditti and Manny Barraza came down from the grand jury, the District Clerk's Office contacted the media to coordinate access to the related documents.

A source tells me that when an attempt was made to contact Adriana Chavez, who is the normal beat reporter but was not available at the time, they were transferred to Milan Simonich, the Metro Editor at the El Paso Times. Simonich was given the major facts of the situation and thanked the person for the call.

Chavez allegedley called back to the DC's office a few minutes later and asked for the documents to be emailed to her and requested that they be cc'd to Simonich because he wanted a copy.

This is where things get interesting.

Ramon Bracamontes was covering the story and allegedly questioned why Simonich would need the documents.

Sources indicate Ramon Bracamontes is no longer under the supervision of Milan Simonich, the Metro Editor at the El Paso Times that some have alleged has a personal relationship with Theresa Caballero.

Caballero would not allow Bracamontes in to the Press Conference.

Draw your own conclusions on this one.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Turf War

Blanche Darley allegedly threatened to pull the Paso Del Norte Chapter of the Tejano Democrats out of the statewide organization at the Texas Democratic Party State Convention.

No word on whether she had authorization to make such a threat from the executive leadership of the local chapter. Apparently Darley made the threat in her capacity as the groups Treasurer.

The threat allegedly arose from a dispute between the two El Paso Chapters of the Tejano Democrats, the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats and the West El Paso Democrats.

Although some would say it’s more of a one-sided dispute.

The dispute is over one chapter, the West El Paso Tejanos Democrats, being behind in their dues to the state entity for a short period. From what I gather, they have since become square with the house.

Sources say that Darley was alleging that the West Tejano Democrats were behind 5 years worth of dues. The West El Paso Tejanos said they were only behind for one year.

Darley apparently raised the issue during the caucus meeting of the state Tejano entity. She was apparently told by the state chair, former Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, that State Chairman of the Tejano Democrats.

The exchange allegedly became pretty heated and ended with Darley being told that it wasn’t appropriate to be raised at a caucus meeting and could be discussed at an upcoming state meeting n August. Darley allegedly threatened at that point to pull the PDN chapter out of the state entity.

Ironically I understand that the Paso Del Norte chapter of the Tejano Democrats were in a similar position several years back. At the time, the West El Paso Chapter founder Joe Delgado urged his membership to support the PDN chapter if the issues of losing their charter due to being behind in dues was raised by the state entity.

Darley must have a short memory.

It is possible that there is a greater subtext to this issue.

Blanche Darley’s niece Yolanda Clay ran for State Executive Committewoman. While Don Williams ultimately ran unopposed, Clay had an opponent in her bid for the Committeewoman position, Joan Robles, who chairs the West El Paso Tejanos.

If you believe the quote of an earlier source, “We never forget who votes against us, and we get even…” it’s possible this might be the reason that Darley made a fuss.

Fortunately for the PDN Tejanos, Mary Bowles Grijalva was around to smooth things over with the state chair.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Times’ Reporter Excluded from Press Conference

I know, it sounds like a total joke of a press conference, but Theresa Caballero also had a reporter from the El Paso Times barred from the press conference she called earlier today.

Which I am told was pretty much pointless because there were no new revelations at the press conference, just basically a rehashing of her tired-ass conspiracy theories.

I know, you are amazed. So was I considering how, in my humble opinion of course, the El Paso Times’ management seems to be perfectly happy carrying water for Caballero and Leeds.

There are only so many media outlets in town and Caballero seems to have a rocky relationship with most of them. There are 5 television stations in town, KDBC, KVIA, KTSM, KFOX, and KINT. There are three print publications, El Diario, The El Paso Inc, and the El Paso Times. Talk radio is a form of media, so go ahead and throw us in there. And let’s not forget the blogosphere, which is a form of media. There are really only about three political bloggers in town these days (that don’t work for the El Paso Times).

If I’m not mistaken, Caballero is litigating against KVIA. If memory serves she had a pretty testy interview a while back with KFOX (over City Rep Quintana’s case). She’s had an on-again, off-again relationship with the El Paso Times that is hard to explain. Sometimes she seems to love them to death, sometimes she hates them. But I guess people could say the same about me and David K.

Only recently (as in early today), has Caballero bothered sending press releases to KINT.

That means she has a conflict-free relationship with only two local TV stations, KTSM and KDBC, which are really just one team.

She buys ads from El Diario every time she has something she wants published. Sito Negron and David Crowder aren’t on her Christmas card list, but I’m not sure how she feels about the rest of The El Paso Inc.

She has no friends in the blogosphere. Stuart Leeds is suing David K and he’s the only other guy around here, other than yours truly, that’s had the huevos to write critically of She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Sammy C is my homie, and therefore more than likely on her shitlist too.

We all know how she feels about me. She hates me, which is a shame because I really like, respect, and look up to her.

(Ha, ha, ha, ja, ja, ja)…sorry, even I couldn’t keep a straight face when I typed this!

I’ve lost track of how many times she’s called management to bitch about something I’ve written because she can’t take criticism.

For what its worth, word around the journalist water cooler is that Caballero didn't want Bracamontes there because she alleges his son Aaron was once an intern in Esparza's office. He, by the way, is not an attorney. He's a sports writer for the Times. Which is weird that she zero's in on that as some sort of issue because she used to work...wait for the DA's office as a prosecutor (along with Stuart Leeds).

I guess the point I’m making here is, just how many more enemies does she want to make? We all know that she’ll be running for something again, so why the desire to push away people that will give her what she, in my humble opinion of course, appears to want the most…attention?

At the rate she’s banning people from her press conferences, she might have to order Stuart Leeds to start a blog before her next campaign in order to have someone show up to her press conferences!

Theresa Caballero Calls Press Conference; Bans Entry of KVIA

Theresa Caballero, famous for berating her father in public when he was mayor of El Paso, called a press conference this afternoon, presumably in response to the several new charges filed against her client, Judge Regina Arditti.

After calling a press conference, sources indicated that Theresa Caballero refused to allow KVIA access to the press conference.

This move is classic Theresa Caballero who always seems to want to be treated with special rules. She wants the attention of the press, but then tries to dictate the terms in which she receives that attention.

No doubt in my mind tomorrow’s coverage of the press conference in the El Paso Times should be a thing of beauty.

An even more ironic move considering her recent blog item in which she talks about free speech.

Arditti Charged with Bribery: 4 Other Charges

A grand jury came back with charges of bribery against Judge Regina Arditti.

In a five count indictment, Arditty has been charged with bribery, abuse of official capacity over $20,000, abuse of official capacity, and prohibition applicable to trading.

More details to come.

CLARIFICATION: Arditti was charged wtih 6 charges in all. There were two counts of bribery alleged.

Her attorneys, Stuart Leeds and Theresa Caballero will be holding a press conference at 3:45pm at 300 E. Main, Suite #1136.

Interestingly, felony charges mean that Arditti will be suspended without pay.

Walt Phillips, My Northeast Friend

A pillar of the El Paso community passed away Saturday morning after a long battle with health issues. Walt Phillips, a father, husband, grandfather, community leader, veteran and friend was a great guy. I know, that’s an expression that doesn’t mean a lot to some people, but it means a lot to me.

I didn’t spend any time with Walt during his illness, though I spoke with him periodically. When he told me he was on hospice, it was just too difficult to visit him during that time because I’m still having a hard time dealing with the loss of my father who was also in hospice.

I should’ve visited him. I feel horrible that I didn’t. No matter how much of a scab it would’ve pulled off of me after losing my dad, it’s nothing compared to what Walt was going through.

I can’t count on one hand the people in this town that have done for others to the extent that Walt Phillips did.

Walt’s emails were always signed with “Your Northeast Friend” and it was a campaign slogan he used when he recently ran for city council.

The guy gave of himself and never asked for anything in return.

Going to campaign forums in the Northeast is a unique experience to say the least. Often the atmosphere isn’t the most welcoming. But there was one thing that was always very welcoming…Walt’s ear-to-ear grin and soft friendly voice.

When I covered the campaign he was involved in, I kept thinking one thing to myself…how much I wanted him to win. I tend to root for the underdog anyway, but I especially was hoping Walt would win because he was such a nice guy. The adage is that nice guys finish last.

Walt was #1 in my book.

In the candidate forums I kept thinking to myself, he doesn’t belong on the stage with these people. It was a crowded field and intense. Walt was just too nice to be in politics, especially in that race. But he was doing it for the right reasons, he wanted to serve. He wanted to help people.

He didn’t get the most votes in that election and I couldn’t vote in the district. But if there was ever a guy that deserved to win, it was Walt. If Walt would’ve won, the Northeast would’ve been the real winner because even at his age, he was a tireless worker.

I'm not the only one who thought highly of Walt. Phillips was a big supporter of State Rep Joe Moody. Moody said he was very humbled by Phillips' support of his candidacy and had more to say about someone he called a friend.

"Walt was someone who tried everyday to make an impact on the world around him. He worked tirelessly on behalf of our veterans, active duty military, and their families. He was imstrumental in making the Flag Site in Northeast a hallmark of El Paso. And he ALWAYS took time to try and change the lives of the youth in our community - whether it was working with the Mayor's Top 100 Teens, or with HOBY, or just giving a young boy or girl some advice on life - he believed to his core that it was essential to impact young people in a positive way - to make them better people - and he did that for countless youth.

He was always quick with a joke - and had a smile that I will never forget. I was lucky enough to get to know him well - and to see the depth of his care and compassion. Walt was a beautiful human being - and my life is better because I had the opportunity to call him friend. I will miss him and so will our entire community - I can only hope that we all take his drive and energy and carry it forward in all the things we do - and never forget how important it is that we reach out and try and make a difference in a young person's life."

Normally I end my radio program with my motto, “Speak Truth to Power”. But on Monday, in honor of my friend Walt, I’m gonna change it up just for him.

He’s the sort of guy that deserves to have something named after him. Not because he wanted it, he was a really humble guy, but because we need to remember people like Walt Phillips and his advice he gave us “Dare to Care”.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Upcoming Guest: Tim Besco

Time Besco, Republican candidate for Congress will be my guest on Monday's edition of The Lion Star Live! where we will talk about federal issues and his candidacy. Tune in from 10am-Noon to catch the interview. Remember if you can't listen on the radio you can always stream the show on the internet. Look on the right and click the Listen Now link.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Podcast: Education Forum hosted by Jose Rodriguez

Here is the full audio of the education forum hosted by Jose Rodriguez, Democratic candidate for State Senator District 29.

And here is a video interview with Rodriguez.

Jose Rodriguez Interview

Jose Rodriguez, candidate for State Senate held a forum on education issues. The forum was attended by administrators including Dr. Garcia, superindendant of EPISD, principals, teachers, students, and parents in addition to Democratic Party activists. Here is an interview I conducted with Rodriguez after the forum.

I will upload the video of my interview with Rodrigues along with audio of the entire forum later today in case you want to hear the event in its entirety.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Leadership We Deserve

People complain about the leadership we have in this town all the time. Sometimes they mean at the County, sometimes they mean at the City, sometimes they mean the Legislature.

And at some point, their critique will inevitably hit home.

But let’s talk about the Democratic Party here in town if you will.

I recently wrote a piece about remarks allegedly made by Blanche Darley. I had no less than seven different sources on what she said. No one wanted to be identified for various reasons, but one common theme is fear of reprisal within the party. With alleged comments from Darley like, “We never forget who votes against us, and we get even…” their fears could be well founded.

Blanche Darley was given an opportunity to comment. She chose not to return my calls.

She could have sent out a press release or statement denying the statements.

She hasn’t.

Many would take her silence as an admission, but draw your own conclusions.

Believe it or not, the comments allegedly made by Blanche Darley don’t amaze me at all. After seeing her in action personally, I am not in the least bit surprised by the allegations.

But I am appalled.

Not by Darley…but by the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats and our party leadership. (If you are wondering why I am not appalled by Darley, just think back to the story of the frog and the scorpion.)

She would not be able to act the way she allegedly does but for the silence of the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats and the party leadership. She is allowed to not only be an active member of the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats, but she is allowed to hold several leadership positions within the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats.

Where is the outrage from candidates, elected leaders, party members, and Tejano membership? Surely they realize how inflammatory and ignorant those types of remarks are and how the reflect on the organization! Are we to take their silence as a passive agreement of her alleged actions and statements?

The Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats are quite simply the most powerful Democratic Party club in town and are the backbone of the Democratic Party. The fact that she is able to operate with impunity is a statement about our leadership within the party and the community.

If the environment within the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats wasn’t such that condoned that activity, she wouldn’t be able to get away with it. It’s that simple.

At some point, the leadership and membership of the PDN Tejanos has to come to the realization that many people in this town think people like Blanche Darley don’t reflect well on the organization. They have to be the ones to do something about that kind of leadership within their own club, or risk potentially damaging the reputation and good name of the organization.

If not, the club may find itself in the position of losing the membership of key people in this community. The time to make a change is sooner, rather than later.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Source: Blanche Darley Used Racial Slur

“That nigger paid off the Young Democrats!”

According to several sources that attended the Democratic Party’s State Convention those were the words shouted by Blanche Darley shortly before the El Paso caucus met. Witnesses tell me that she was referring to Don Williams, the new El Paso State Democratic Executive Committeeman.

According to the sources, she made the remark several times including once in the lobby of the Best Western Hotel and as the bus carrying the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats was off-loading passengers.

This is not the first time that Darley, the sister of long-time former State Rep Paul Moreno has been accused of using that slur. A couple of years back during the Presidential Election, several witnesses heard Darley say, “Leave it to Norma to support a nigger…” referring to her long-time rival, State Representative Norma Chavez who was supporting the then-candidate, now President Barack Obama.

Sources said that at a 3:30pm meeting at the Best Western Hotel, the Tejano Democrats held a closed-door meeting of their membership. Many members of the Tejano Democrats were going to support Tony Escobedo for the office of State Democratic Executive Committeeman.

Don Williams is also a member of the Tejano Democrats in addition to his membership in nearly every other Democratic Party Club in town including the Mexican-American Democrats, West Tejano Democrats, and the Stonewall Democrats.

During this meeting, the sources allege that Darley was addressing several members of the membership saying about Williams, “We’re gonna fuck him up…all he wants to do is help black people…He’s a racist, Don Williams doesn’t like Hispanic people.”

Don Williams’ wife is Ruth Ibarra-Williams. She happens to be Latina.

Several convention attendees say that she didn’t limit her comments to just Williams.

One conventioneer allegedly overheard Darley make a not-so cryptic threat at a reception for the Tejano Democrats at the Omni Hotel in Corpus Christi. The conventioneer said that Darley expressed appreciation to one member of the El Paso Caucus for voting in favor of the Tejano candidate for Executive Committeewoman, but then turned to another member of the caucus that didn’t vote for the Tejano candidate allegedly saying, “We never forget who votes against us, and we get even…”

The El Paso County Democratic Party Chair Danny Anchondo chose several members to serve as counters during votes. Typically the people selected are chosen as a measure of protection (so they don’t have to go on the record supporting a particular candidate or resolution).

One of the people chosen was Glen “Butch” Maya, who is the Chair of the UNITY campaign this go around. The UNITY campaign is an effort by the party to get past the factionalism that occurs in the party and gets everyone to rally around the party’s nominee.

Apparently Darley was not happy that Moya wasn’t taking a side and was a counter. An eye-witness tells me that Darley allegedly said, “Porque no sales afuera y te compras unos huevos? Alla anda un buey vendiendo huevos afuera.”

Apparently the decision was made during the closed door Tejanos meeting to pull their support for Tony Escobedo due to the controversial remarks made by Darley.

Don Williams said he spoke with Escobedo before the vote and Escobedo told him he was going to “back out because things were going to get rough.”

Darley’s initial allegation about a pay-off stems from the fact that the Black El Paso Democrats, of which Don Williams is the Chair, gave their membership $200 in order to attend the convention. That money could’ve been used for flight, gas, hotel, food, etc.

The Tejano Democrats tend to only belong to the Tejano Democrats while others, including a few members of the El Paso Young Democrats, are members of several Democratic Party clubs, including the Black El Paso Democrats, which is why they were entitled to the funds provided by the Black El Paso Democrats.

Most of the El Paso delegation to the legislature was present, but there were a couple of notable absences including Rep Elect Naomi Gonzalez, State Rep Chente Quintanilla, and out-going Senator Eliot Shapleigh.

Two attempts were made to contact Blanche Darley for comment. The first time she said she was busy and the second time a voicemail was left. Darley has yet to return a call.

El Paso Young Democrats Meet with Linda Chavez-Thompson Team

The State Convention of the Texas Democratic Party occurs every couple of years and is a chance for party activists from across the state of Texas to get together and talk about policy, organize efforts, and meet with candidates and their staff.

Typically the convention also has its share of lobbyists, operatives, and consultants in attendance.

The leadership of the El Paso Young Democrats took the opportunity to meet with Linda Chavez-Thompson and her team. Alfredo Longoria, President, and Jay Desai, Vice President, met with Chavez-Thompson and her staff to urge them to come to El Paso and to have a physical presence in the El Paso area.

El Paso is the Democratic Party stronghold of the state of Texas and the results of El Paso typically come in last because El Paso County is in a different time zone than the rest of the state.

Longoria said the meeting was a big success and they El Paso Young Democrats will likely host Chavez-Thompson at an upcoming meeting or special event before the election.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rep –Elect Naomi Gonzalez Misses Democratic Party Events

Apparently Rep-Elect Gonzalez is not in a big hurry to convince people that she really is a member of the Democratic Party.

Gonzalez received a lot of criticism (a lot from yours truly) during the election in which she defeated long-time State Rep Norma Chavez for being almost 100% funded by the Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which is a very conservative organization.

Rep-Elect Gonzalez was invited to be a speaker at the last Young Democrats meeting and she declined the invitation.

But was the most notable absence of Rep-Elect Gonzalez was her absence from the State Democratic Party Convention in Corpus Christi. Rep-Elect Gonzalez was not in attendance at the Convention, which is a key party event that most legislators attend. This being the year of a gubernatorial election, the convention takes on even more significance.

That’s pretty interesting when you watch this quick video reminder of an event in which the Tejano Democrats awarded the only sizeable contribution to her campaign that actually didn’t come from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform.

The funniest part of this video is to listen to these people chant “Democrats, Democrats…” as Gonzalez looked visibly uncomfortable. Another funny part of the video is the guy that has the nerve to say that she’s not for sale to the special interest groups. I guess more than 90% funding from the TLR doesn’t meet his definition.

I’ll check with Sammy C and find out if she attended the Republican Party’s Convention instead.