Wednesday, February 29, 2012

That's Reverend LionStar Now!

Okay, I didn't realize how easy it was for ANYBODY to become an ordained minister. Turns out, its really easy.

Since Pastor Brown, who from what I understand never had to receive a religious education, has now become Bishop Brown and is dressing like a Catholic Priest, I thought I would become a member of the cloth.

And I did. Officially.

Turns out you can actually pick the title you want when you become ordained from the Universal Life Church Monastery.

According the website I can now use the title Revered, Minister, Pastor, Bishop, Arch Bishop, Cardinal, Monsignor, etc...

I'm having a hard time picking out a title, so I will do another poll and narrow it down to a few different options and let the readers pick the title I will use from now on. I am partial to Reverend, but mostly because I really dig Run DMC and Run is now Rev Run.

So with my membership in the clergy, I can now officiate (after I file my credentials with the District Clerk's Office) weddings, funerals, baptisms, ceremonial rites, last rites, start my own church and absolve people of their sins.

Seriously, I'm not joking. Go to the website and see for yourself.

I offered to officiate the wedding of two politicos that are dating but I was turned down. Which sucks because I was even going to waive my fee just for them.

Example ordination
Click here to get ordained.

Oh, and they also have certificates to become a Jedi Knight. No, I'm not kidding and yes, I have now had the rank of Jedi Knight conferred upon me.

Yes, this is real.

No this is not a joke. Although it all started because I wanted to know how Pastor Brown became a Bishop. I don't know where he got his credentials, but I now know how scary-easy it is to become an ordained minister.

I'll post the survey tomorrow. Pick me a title people!

Take Quick Polls on HD 77 & 78

Okay, since there has been such a reaction to the piece I wrote about Joe Moody being drawn out of HD 78 and drawn in to HD 77, I put together a few polls. Take them. They are unscientific but I'm interested to see what the results are:

Moody Drawn Out of 78; Drawn in to 77

Former State Representative Joe Moody was drawn out of the HD 78 and drawn in to HD 77 in the latest version of the maps.

That is a big development and leaves Moody with a couple of options. I haven't had a chance to speak with Moody yet, but these are his options as I see them. (Don't start freakin' out people. Its just a 'what-if' piece).

Option #1 - Moody could just move back in to the district. He was drawn out, so moving back in won't be a big deal and he's running against someone who moved in to the district to run in the first place. The courts haven't made a decision on filing windows or residency requirements (which will also affect HD 75 btw), so time is on Moody's side.

From what I am hearing out of San Antonio, it looks like the residency requirement won't be in play because of the flux of election dates, the candidate would just have to move in the district if they won.

I should point out that Moody has always lived in HD 78. He was in the district in every version of the maps until this final map came out which was the first time EVER he was not in the district.

Option #2 - Run for HD 77. That would be perhaps the most newsworthy decision on the part of Moody. That would pit him against a sitting Democratic State Representative Marisa Marquez. One former state rep from a party being drawn out of a district and put in to that of another sitting state rep from the same party and the two duke it out has happened before. But not in El Paso that I can recall. Marquez appears set to cruise to victory over Barraza fairly handily, but with the possible entrance of Joe Moody in to the race, it would change everything.

First off, it would be a money war between the Texans for Lawsuit Reform and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.

A pretty good chunk of Moody's former district would also be drawn in to the district along with Moody, so he would come with a base. Marquez and Moody are both pretty popular Democrats, but I think with the possible exception of Sheriff Wiles, Moody is likely the most popular Democrat in El Paso County. Parts of the Northeast are also in District 77 now and they are familiar with Moody as well. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, part of the Moody clan lives in the Northeast.

Plus, Moody knows how to campaign in close races. He's never had a race that wasn't close because he ran in a Republican district. He knows ground game.

When asked about the possibility of facing Joe Moody in a Democratic primary, Marquez said that the maps just came out and its too early to tell what anyone is going to do that that she would cross that bridge when she comes to it.

The other candidate, Aaron Barraza stated, "I would continue my campaign, its not ideal to go against a fellow Irishmen, but in the end the voters would be the winners." Barraza and Moody are both Cathedral grads.

When I spoke to Barraza he didn't seem worried or shaken at all. He seemed calm and confident. Clearly he and his staff had already realized that Moody in the race was a possibility.

Marquez would have the advantage of obviously having the largest base within the District and she is the incumbent. She has also been walking and upping her campaign visibility and therefore has a head start. And of course, Marquez has money in the campaign war chest and the ability to raise more. She also has Forma Group. They worked with Margo to take out Moody in the last election and they worked with Naomi Gonzalez to take out Norma Chavez. And Marquez also knows how to run a tough campaign, taking out Moreno was no easy accomplishment.

Barraza has been very busy walking and talking with voters. But if Moody did decide to enter the race, I think Barraza would likely see most of his support melt away pretty quickly. He more than anyone should be hoping Moody doesn't jump in the race because Moody in the race makes him even less relevant. Even one-on-one with Marquez Barraza is a long-shot at best. But he has benefited from some strong anti-Marquez sentiment, somewhat of an alliance with the Morenos, and some grass-roots help from a couple members of Congressman Reyes' staff.

But with two strong debaters and policy experts like Moody and Marquez both in the race, both with legislative experience, both with the ability to raise money, both with established support bases, and both with established voting records, Barraza's is going to find himself on the outside looking in. Out-gunned in terms of support, knowledge of issues, and ability to raise money.

But he'll be alright, he has a bright future ahead of him if he plays his cards right.

Although...and it is way to early to say for sure obviously, but Marquez might want Barraza to stick around. Barraza might end up being her key to victory in a three-way race. Who knows? Too early to tell but something to watch.

Option #3 - Run for something else. People have talked about Moody running for Mayor someday. People have also said that he would be a good Congressional candidate and maybe if the Congressman wins re-election and then decides to retire Moody might consider a stab at that office. Or maybe County Judge Escobar appoints him to fill the Precinct 3 seat on Commissioner's Court until someone is elected. Okay, I'm kidding.

Option #4 - Do nothing at all. Not run for anything.

Of all the options, I think obviously Option #1 is most likely.

Option #2 is also on the table, though not nearly as likely as Option #1.

Options #3 and #4 seem the least likely.

Stay tuned...this could get interesting.

Cook Fundraiser Today

A fundraiser for El Paso Mayor John Cook will be held today at Don Quintin from 5:30pm-7:30pm.

Don Quintin is located at 420 N. Campbell.

Reyes' Commercial & Times' Headline

Am I missing something?

I am completely lost as to the headline of this piece in the El Paso Times today. The headline reads, U.S. Rep Reyes Can't Support Key Claim in Ad on Drugs.

The piece is about the ad from Congressman Reyes' office that ran during the Oscar's. David K also wrote about this so I'll be brief since I think he pretty much nailed it.

It looks like they got comment from O'Rourke and he said he never advocated for the wholesale legalization of drugs. Okay, maybe thats true, but aren't we talking about semantics here? Does it really deserve the headline "Reyes can't support key claim"?

Weed is a drug. O'Rourke is very clear about wanting to legalize it. Yes, his position has changed and the language of what he is advocating for has been massaged, but I think if anyone were to ask him directly, I'm reasonably sure O'Rourke would  make it clear he wants to legalize marijuana.

If marijuana is a controlled substance, and he wants to legalize it, then he wants to legalize a drug.

There is video all over the place about this position. He's been asked about drug policy at every forum I have been to.

Although now that I think about it, I did pose the direct question of legalization to O'Rourke earlier in the campaign and I have the video. Somewhere around the 5:40 mark I asked the question.

I guess I could've but a finer point on the issue by asking something likeL What is position of legalization of drugs? Does he support legalization of marijuana. Does he support legalization / decriminalization of other drugs?

But it seems his policy position is pretty clear. I'm not sure what claim the Reyes ad didn't support.

The real interesting thing to me is this. Yet again, days later, we are still talking about a commercial that ran days go during a high-ratings program.

Another win for Pittle.

Which is a good thing for the Reyes camp because they are not going to have a fundraising advantage like they thought they would have, O'Rourke is going to out-work them, and the district lines aren't as favorable as Reyes would've liked.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quick Props to Local Media (and the Behind the Scenes Team)

I've spent a lot of time and internet space being critical of local media at times, but when its time for props, I have no problem giving it.

You all know the familiar faces in front of the camera, but having been around a newsroom, there is a lot that happens that you don't see. There is a lot of work that goes in to a couple of inches of print in the El Paso Times or news packages on TV.

I've been fortunate enough to spend time playing with the varsity team on stories. By varsity team, I mean real journalists.

Reporters, even the pretty faces in front of a camera, along with photogs, spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for something to happen. A lot of time is spent in the elements. Hot, cold, wet, dry, etc, reports and photogs can never take a day off the elements. Those big cameras get heavy after you have to lug them around along with a tripod.

Then you hope you don't run out of batteries because then you have to run back to the unit for another and hope you don't miss your big moment while you are gone.

There are also the News Directors, Assignment Editors, Multimedia Journalists, Web Producers, etc that all fill a role for stuff you see on TV or read in the paper.

Maybe one of the local media stations will let me do a behind the scenes piece to give you a glimpse of how a story is goes from an idea to a broadcast.

The reason I'm writing this is because we have all been glued to local media for coverage on the Gandara story and we've had some great coverage lately. On the English side, KVIA and the Times have been kicking some major butt.

On the Spanish side, Noticias 26 has been doing a great job as well.

When there is a story like the Gandara one, there are a lot of stages too it and it really does take team coverage. You need good photogs who will jump in to traffic to get you the shot you want to see on TV or in print. People who will run down the street with their heavy cameras trying to keep it steady at the same time following a car. People who know exits, alternate exits, secret routes, and all the other info that makes it possible to get you the story. People who know where to be and when to be there.

Sometimes you have to wait around for hours for something that happens in a matter of moments.

There's a fraternity among the media. They all know one another and all joke around with one another to pass the time. Reporters will often hold mics for other stations if its a crowded space. And when its showtime, they all spring in to action and do their job. They are all business, and yes, competitive.

Someone works in a crowded little booth to edit video and do voice-overs for a story, sometimes having to translate in order make sure that the people in the field that gathered the footage didn't do it in vain.

I thought about this because the other day when the Gandara story broke, I made my way downtown to get some video. My teenage daughter had to tag along and she was amazed to see a story unfold in front of her and then watched the finished product on the news later.

So next time you see them in action, remember that there is a lot of work that goes in to what they do.

The List of Possible Appointees to Replace Gandara

County Judge Veronica Escobar has only a few options for the appointment to replace El Paso County Commissioner Willie Gandara.

As I stated earlier, she either selects someone who is a candidate, or she selects someone who isn't a candidate, but there is no guarantee that the person won't file to run for County Commissioner.

If she selected someone who isn't a candidate there is really no way to tell who it could be. There are only a few names that come to mind, mostly people that have run before and all of which would probably run if they were appointed.

So let's talk about the candidates in the race now and what I think the likelihood of their appointment would be.

State Rep Chente Quintanilla is a non-starter. He is already a State Representative. He would have to resign from office and then there would need to be a special election to fill out the rest of his term, short as it may be. That would also come with a cost to tax-payers. So Quintanilla won't be the one selected.

Dora Oaxaca is also not likely to get the appointment either. More so because of the fact that the County Judge will likely want to do what Gandara's lawyer said in the resignation letter, "hasten the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in this community". A continuation of Gandara through the appointment of Oaxaca just doesn't seem like it would be the right decision and likely would be widely criticized. Ironically, its probably Gandara's comments calling Oaxaca "family" and his "best friend" that would be the biggest hurdle for her to get serious consideration for the appointment.

Rudy Loya is a possibility. Although his hurdle is one I share. He doesn't have a 4 year degree. He's the only candidate in the race that doesn't have one.

That leaves Vince Perez. I think he'd be the only person that the County Judge would seriously consider appointing to the position. As I said before, any decision she makes will be problematic but Perez seems to be the least problematic for Escobar.

I'm sure there are other names in the picture, but thats just what came to mind so far.

New 16th Congressional Map & Possible Filing Window

Okay, the new maps are out. You can find the map here. The 23rd District was balanced out by taking out most of the Valley and putting it in a district that will be mostly represented by a Congressman in San Antonio.

All the people who here bitching about being drawn "disenfranchised" by being drawn out of the 16th District that live in the Northeast aren't going to utter a single word about the people drawn out of the district from the Valley.

Yes, that means the elected officials that were the first ones to complain about the maps. Mark my words, they won't have a problem with the valley being taken out at all.

So if you live south of the freeway, as far west as Zaragoza, guess what? You are now in a San Antonio district.

North of the freeway the boundary is Horizon Blvd. Clint, Socorro, Fabens, San Eli, Tornillo, etc are all now out of the 16th District.

Huge loss for Congressman Reyes.

Big win for Beto O'Rourke. I guess for Jerome Tilghman too. He now lives in the district.

I'm expecting there to be financial support implications given the new map. Things just got a little close between Reyes and O'Rourke in this race.

The new filing window could possibly be something like this Friday to next Tuesday. Maybe. Nothing solid on that one yet. But I'll keep you posted.

Resignation Letter from Joe Spencer on Behalf of Willie Gandara, Jr.

Here is the letter sent to County Judge Veronica Escobar regarding the resignation of County Commissioner Willie Gandara. The letter is signed by Joe Spencer, who is Gandara's attorney.

I think in order for the resignation to be official it would have to be from Gandara himself, so there may be another letter in the near future.

But this is basically a done deal. Gandara can't all of a sudden decide he changed his mind and wants to stay in office. This letter is already public, so its a done deal. If anything, I'd expect an official letter to come from Gandara tomorrow, especially given the fact that the letter from Spencer says "effective immediately".

COUNTY JUDGE MEDIA ADVISORY Potential Resignation of County Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr

Escobar - Damned if she does, The Valley is Damned if She Doesn't

Since Gandara has made his intentions clear about what he is going to do in terms of the race for HD 75 and being a County Commissioner (he's resigning), the decision to replace Gandara on Commissioner's Court is solely the decision of one person.

The County Judge.

With Gandara's resignation, that means the valley will have no voice on Commissioner's Court until a replacement is named. It would be irresponsible of the County Judge to not name a replacement until a successor takes office. That would leave the valley with no representation for around 9 months. County Commissioner's Court meets weekly and a lot of decisions are made during each meeting. So waiting until the winner of the election doesn't make sense at all.

And frankly, waiting for the winner of the Democratic Primary doesn't make sense at all either considering that date is constantly fluctuating. So far the date we have is May 29th, but that could easily be changed and what ever changes there are, they won't be sooner than the 29th of May.

So she has to appoint someone.

And she is going to be criticized no matter what she does, even if she does nothing. At the end of the day, someone is going to be unhappy with her decision.

Now in most scenarios, the political safe decision is to appoint someone who is not going to run for the position. But since there is no guarantee of that happening because of the likelihood of the filing window opening again, anyone she appoints could be a candidate for the seat.

So if she is going to be criticized no matter who she appoints, she might as well appoint who she thinks would be the best fit for the job. The obvious choice for her would be to select one of the existing candidates for the race.

Ultimately it will be the voters that will decide who takes office to represent their community in January, so no one is losing out. The voters could very easily reject the Escobar appointee in May if they so choose. But no matter who is selected it is going to have an impact on the race, more so if she selected someone who is not already a candidate because she would effectively be complicating the race further for the existing candidates by doing so.

These are the times when leaders are tested. When an unexpected situation is thrust upon them.

She will be criticized no matter what, so she might as well pick who she thinks is best for the position.

Gandara to Resign from County Commissioner/HD 75 Race

KVIA is reporting that Willie Gandara will resign from El Paso County Commissioner's Court. 

That means County Judge Veronica Escobar has to appoint a replacement.

He's also withdrawing from HD 75 race.

Fluid situation. I will post more later. 

Gandara Receives $50k Cash Bond

El Paso County Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr. will be given a cash bond of $50,000 according to KVIA. That means he will likely get out of El Paso County Jail today.

Now the questions for Gandara will start.

Will he resign?

Not likely. I'm betting he will stay on as El Paso County Commissioner for Precinct #3. That means for at least a few meetings Commissioner's Court is going to be packed with cameras and reporters wanting to get comment from Gandara. It will also mean they will likely be floating around his office as well, which is bad for Dora Oaxaca, who is running to replace her boss. She needs to distance herself in order to have any shot at all of being competitive in the race at this point. If Gandara stays on as the Commissioner there is no chance at distancing herself from him. Personally, I don't think it matters. The damage is done and I don't see a path to victory for her anymore.

Will he stay in the race?

Of course not. He's toast. Plus he needs to focus on the case.

Thats all for now. More later.

Rodriguez Asks Attorney General to Look in to Tax Assessor/Collector's Office Compliance with FOIA

In what has been an on-going debate of the race for El Paso County Tax Assessor/Collector, challenger Armando Rodriguez issued this statement that asks the Texas Attorney General's Office to look in to whether the office run by his opponent Victor Flores, is in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

I'll follow this and update you all.

It looks like Rodriguez is questioning how much of the work of the office is now being done by private business and if it justifies the department having the same size staff if they are doing much less of the workload.

Press Release-Open Records

Mary Gonzalez Fundraiser

HD 75 front-runner Mary Gonzalez held a fundraiser last night in Socorro. It was held at the indoor rodeo facility where Dora Oaxaca held her campaign kick-off event. I don't know how much money was raised, but it was the first campaign event she's held in the valley that I was able to actually attend and it was impressive.

There was a decent crowd that showed up and it was filled with people from the valley. What was unique about it was the fact that I didn't feel like I was at a campaign fundraiser. It wasn't a stuffy suit and tie affair with wines, cheeses, and small talk. It was beans, brisquit, and abrazos.

It was very Texas, very Socorro.

Cowboy hats, boots, jeans, Spanglish, and an overall good atmosphere.

Beer from a can served through a window that opens to the adjoining bar.

Very down home.

And there was a band that from what I was told was unexpected. They were Los Alegres de Quien-Sabe-Que, I don't remember their real name, but they were good. Played everything from Johnny Cash to Freddy Fender, Little Joe to Dion and the Belmonts.

They were, as we say, ATM.

I didn't get video of her speech or even conduct an interview. I had my gear with me but I felt so comfortable that I forgot it was a campaign event.

I know, you are looking for some substance from me, so I'll give ya what I can. Gonzalez didn't really give a political speech since the event was mostly friends and family. She was pretty ill from what I am told and is still getting over it, so it was meant to be low-key.

Although there was one interesting part. Gonzalez was talking about the events that have transpired lately, and by that I mean the arrest of Willie Gandara Jr, and also about public corruption. She mentioned talking to her younger siblings about running and they asked her “Why, politicians are all corrupt.”

Right on cue, Justice of the Peace Lujan piped up, “Not all of us!”

Which was funny. You remember Lujan right? He's the guy that was the MC for the Quintanilla Pachanga. He is one of the people that gave out cash.

I had a chance to talk with the candidates in attendance as well. Two of the candidates for El Paso County Commissioner Precinct 3 were in attendance Vince Perez and Rudy Loya.

They chatted with one another and spoke with people in the room. They get along very well and I found myself almost forgetting they were opponents as the three of us spoke.

Speaking of chatter, the buzz going around the room at the various tables inevitably led to the arrest of Gandara and whether he would continue to run for HD 75 and continue to be on Commissioner's Court. The people also mentioned Dora Oaxaca in the same breath. 

It wasn't good for either of them.

Final note - The food. Everyone thinks their mom or dad makes the best this or that. That being saind, my mother makes the best chile colorado and tortillas on the planet. 

End of conversation.

A fact that can be verified by a few of my former colleagues over at Noticias 26 and my homeboy Cisco.

Gonzalez has mentioned her families brisket several times. I didn't think it could possibly be as good as she has told me it was. And then I had some. 

It is THAT good. I've had some crappy campaign food in my day, but the plate I had last night was hands down the best campaign food I've ever had. Which is another reason I didn't get video.

I was eating. Constable Bernal had to remind me that I was supposed to be shooting video. So no video. My bad. But its not entirely my fault. If you had that brisket sitting on a plate in front of you, you would be distracted too. 

Black El Paso Democrats Annual Dinner

Large crowd, but noticeably smaller than last year. I was surprised to only see one candidate for County Commissioner Precinct 1. El Paso County Democratic Party Chairman Danny Anchondo was the only candidate in that race that was in attendance. The other candidates, Liza Montelongo and Jaime Romo were not in attendance. Leon will be a candidate if he can get on the ballot and he was also not in attendance.

Three of the four Congressional candidate were in attendance, Congressman Reyes, former City Representative Beto O'Rourke, and Jerome Tilghman. The crowd was clearly supportive of Congressman Reyes and the speaker, a congressional colleague, was very complimentary of the Congressman's time in Washington.

After the awards were given out to the local Democratic Party activists, State Reps Gonzalez and Marquez gave an award to Don Williams. Since it was on the same night as the Oscar's, the two Reps went with the theme and did the announcement of the award like a nomination segment on the award show.

Pretty funny stuff.

Gonzalez and Marquez left right after they gave the award and before the keynote speech and I think O'Rouke left around the same time. Which was probably a good idea because it would have been a little awkward because of the fact that the keynote spent a lot of time praising her colleague.

Despite the fact that it looked like a smaller crowd this year, there were a lot of candidates in attendance.

El Paso County Commissioner Precinct 3 candidate and former Reyes Press Secretary Vince Perez rushed up front to take pictures of his girlfriend, and Reyes Interim Press Secretary Claudia Ordaz, when she was given the Outstanding Communication Award (won by Yours Truly last year). After she was given an award, Perez gave her a kiss. First bit of PDA from the two.

At which point some smart-alike in the crowd got everyone else to say “ahhh......”.

Perez turned redder than the Rudy's Barbecue sign on Yarborough.

Another interesting observation. Congressman Reyes was on one side of the head table and County Judge Veronica Escobar was on the other. I don't think the two crossed paths the entire evening. She did find herself sitting next to El Paso County Democratic Party Chairman Danny Anchondo for a while.

In what I call the WTF moment of the evening, Ann Morgan Lily was in attendance. I didn't think she knew where to find a Democratic function in this town. She presented the guest speaker with a key to the city.

(Note to self – figure out a way to get a key to the city).

The Mistress of Ceremonies was great. She kept the show moving and had great presence. I'm not sure, but I think the actually called the Congressman “Dog” before she realized it was the Congressman.

Quote of the night:

“I work the street corners for Elvia Hernandez” - Don Williams.

I was glad to see some of the people that were awarded finally be recognized. Kathy Coronado, Ouisa Davis, Sebastian Martinez, and the Hernandez' along with a host of others.

Kathy just might be the classiest lady in El Paso. She was a candidate's spouse and she wrote the book on how to comport oneself as a dignified and respected woman while on the campaign trail. Things can get rough out there on the campaign trail, but she was always classy. She's instinctively nurturing to those around her and a worker. She's not afraid to get her hands dirty and do the mundane campaign work. Hell, she's even organized barbecues for campaign workers (including the opposition) near the end of early voting.

Ouisa Davis. When you are public person because of your political beliefs you are a magnate for criticism. And in this town haters go after people willing to voice their opinion like its an Olympic sport. I know a small piece of some of the crap she probably has to put up with. But she is a strong voice for this community and will take the stand on her position even if its not always popular. I respect and identify with her.

Sebastian Martinez. Talk about long-over due recognition for his work. Bravo and I think its poignant that it was the Black El Paso Democrats that recognized him, despite the fact that he has been a member of a host of other organizations in this town. Shame on them for not recognizing his contribution, but kudos to the Black El Paso Democrats for doing so.

The Hernandez's. Worker bees. I met them during the last election on the bus to the State Democratic Convention. When we made a stop I saw them and I realized we were really loud in the back of the bus and I immediately apologized to them. They told me I didn't need to apologize, they found us entertaining. Ever since then I noticed that if there was an election, the Hernandez's were involved. They have a kid a Yale, another went to USC, and two others graduated from college. And Irene ( I never call her by her first name) always makes sure I get something to eat when I am covering something. Even when I'm having a crappy day, if I see the Hernandez's at an event I immediately cheer up. Good people and hard workers.

There were plenty more that were deserving of their awards, but those are the people that jumped out in my mind the most.

And I have to say – on a personal note, I have a lot of respect for Don Williams. He awards people for what they do, not their popularity. And not whether or not they are even nice to him. I know for a fact that some of the people that were awarded Sunday night and in previous years, weren't always the nicest people to Don. You gotta respect someone who is often the shortest guy in the room, but almost always the bigger person.

The food was good. The desert was great! The rolls however, well lets just say if we ever run out of artillery shells, I know how we can make due until we can resupply.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dumbest Quote from CBA Congressional Forum

I think I forgot to mention this, but there was a funny moment that I should pass on to you. During last week's CBA debate, one of the Republican candidates said something that I am sure he would like to have a second crack at.

When speaking about the drug war, Corey Roen talked about not legalizing drugs and then said the most absurd thing I've heard in a while. He said "there is no drug problem in the military".

A lot of vets in the room almost spit out their tea. In fact, I think the Congressman and Jerome Tilghman both probably bit their tongues at that remark.

I haven't heard something that absurd since Ahmadinejad declared there were no gays in Iran.

Surrogate Asses

Politicians are generally pretty good at making asses of themselves. Some more than others. Take a look around, if there was a magazine that came out with a list of cities with elected officials that regularly make asses of themselves, I an assure you, we'd top that one too.

Sure there are big cities with their fair share of douche-bag electeds, but seriously, if making an ass out of one's self were an Olympic Sport, we'd crank'em out they way Pennsylvania was cranking out quarterbacks at one time...

The bottom line is, elected officials and candidates don't need anyone to help them make asses of themselves. But there is a freakin' legion of idiots out in internet-land that think they are being helpful but all they are doing is turning people off.

I know what you are thinking, this as to be a piece about some of Reyes' supporters. Hell, if I wasn't the vato writing this, I would think so to. Trust me, some of the Reyes supports have turning off voters down to a freakin' science.

But oddly enough, this time its not about one of the Reyes supporters.

Its time to dish a little toward the other major candidate. This time its one of Beto O'Rourke's supporters that really has one-upped the Congressman's people.

The person who administers the website, which is essentially a website geared at negative information about Congressman Reyes, made a statement that has really upset some people.

I have to admit, I didn't see the comment until Sunday night when someone mentioned it to me. I'd been to the website once before but forgot to check back. In a piece in which the author, whom I'm told is a friend of O'Rourke, was grading the performances of the candidates, the author makes the following statement about Jerome Tilghman:

"...I don't think his Samuel Jackson-esk (sic) tone will play well with most people."

I've spent a lot of time analyzing JT speak. JT is a friend and colleague. Hell, I've made fun of the way JT speaks on multiple occasions. JT sounds nothing like Samuel L. Jackson. I've seen JT's wallet. It doesn't say "Bad Muthafucka". JT doesn't have a purple lightsaber either (to my knowledge).

The point is, Jerome Tilghman doesn't sound or act anything like Samuel L. Jackson. They have nothing in common.

Except that they are both black.

Several African-Americans I know are not too happy about the remarks on the site.

Apparently the Reyes campaign hasn't cornered the market on over-zealous supporters that turn off voters. This is one of those instances were they dodged a bullet. It was a stupid thing to write, but it could've been much worse.

The question, for both Reyes and O'Rourke, is what happens if their over-zealous supporters go too far next time?

Do you think you are really helping out the candidate of your choice?

Which brings me to my last point. As I mentioned earlier today, I am wondering how the Reyes supporters will react to a negative commercial from O'Rourke.

Now I wonder how O'Rourke's supporters will react if the Reyes' decided to create an entire website aimed at negative information about O'Rourke?

Candidates have a hard enough time managing their schedules and the campaigns. They don't have time to babysit every over-zealous supporter.

But that doesn't mean they have to tolerate it.

Things are going to spin out of control in this race.

Mark my words.

Marquez Interview - Part 2

Here is another part of my interview conducted with State Representative Marisa Marquez who represents Texas House District 77.

Marquez is running for re-election in the Democratic Primary.

2nd Reyes Commercial Hits the Airwaves

Another commercial from Congressman Reyes' campaign hit the airwaves last night during the Oscar's. If you missed it, here it is:

Reyes Works -- Say No to Drugs -- from Silvestre Reyes on Vimeo.

This commercial is guaranteed to be controversial and get a strong reaction, either in support, or from people who will strongly dislike the commercial.

What I find interesting is that the Reyes' finally appear to be comfortable with calling O'Rourke "Beto". In fact, the message of the commercial was essentially, Say No to Drugs, Say No to Beto.

It is now the second commercial released from the campaign and it was during yet another high-ratings period. I think the commercial actually aired twice, the first time being after the monologue from the host, during the first break.

That's a pricey spot.

I am wondering what a commercial from O'Rourke will look like. I am also wondering how the Reyes supporters are going to react when it comes out. O'Rourke has been negative in some of his public comments against the Congressman as well as in some of his campaign material, but frankly, I would expect a commercial from O'Rourke to have a pretty strong negative message against Reyes. I'm betting the reaction will be pretty interesting.

So take the new poll and weigh-in. Tell me what you think of the new Reyes commercial.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Interview with State Rep Marisa Marquez

I conducted a lengthy interview with State Rep Marisa Marquez for an upcoming analysis of the race. I extended the same invitation to her opponent Aaron Barraza.

Barraza never responded but his campaign manager did respond and informed me that Barraza declined to be interviewed.

Before we go further, I have been contacted by a couple of people objecting to how the attendee I spoke with earlier today characterized the event. I was informed by a caller that Rep Marquez's staff took video of the entire event, so I will try see if I can track it down and post it here so that you can draw your own conclusion of the discussion.

I'm told that the issue of colonias came up during the breakfast meeting and as it turns out, it was one of the first questions I asked during the interview I conducted with Marquez on Wednesday. I will post other portions of the interview over the next few days.

The interview covered a range of topics relating to the campaign and her time in the legislature.

Don't Expect A Lot to Get Done at Commissioner's Court

The Gandara arrest is going to have an obvious impact on Commissioner's Court. He was already under scrutiny for his attendance record at meetings, which is probably why his assistant and best friend Dora Oaxaca has spent so much time filling in for him in his official capacity, even recently presenting an award to a comedian, which is just one of many opportunities she's had to be in the spotlight that she otherwise wouldn't have had.

But Commissioner Haggerty is ill. He will be missing a lot of meetings. Gandara missed something like half of the votes on Commissioner's Court BEFORE he was indicted. He's likely to miss much more if he stays on as Commissioner. (There is the outside possibility that he would resign, but I doubt it. His Dad had to be removed via recall after his indictment).

There are 5 members of Commissioner's Court. You need 3 for a quorum. County Judge Veronica Escobar, County Commissioner Anna Perez, and County Commissioner Sergio Lewis are going to have to have perfect attendance for County business to get done.

It also means they should control their fluid intake. Otherwise they are going to have to take a recess every time one of them as to take a pee...

Blood-Bath at Rep Robinsons Breakfast Meeting

Multiple attendees at the City Representative Carl Robinson breakfast meeting this morning said that the exchange between the two guest speakers, HD 77 candidates Representative Marisa Marquez and challenger Aaron Barraza, quickly became a blood-bath.

Apparently it was a spirited exchange between the two. 

The attendee I spoke with had an issue with Barraza's voting record, or rather, lack thereof. The attendee said someone in the audience asked about it and Barraza indicated that he hadn't voted but quickly made a point about Marquez missing a particular vote on in the Texas House. The attendee felt that Barraza was avoiding the question and that several of the seniors were turned off by his answer and overall didn't like his demeanor.

There was apparently also some discussion about Barraza wanting to make changes to the Texas constitution. I wasn't in attendance so I need to get more information before I go any further.

I am trying to acquire some video of the breakfast meeting. Once I get the video, I will post it. 

I wasn't personally in attendance so despite the fact that the attendees I spoke with said that Marquez clearly out-performed Aaron Barraza, I'll reserve judgement until I see the footage and I will post it. Video is best because you can view for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

CBA Congressional Debate

The Central Business Association hosted a debate for the Congressional race earlier this week. The debate featured the Democratic candidates for Congress and the Republicans as well.

It was nice to see all the candidates together on a stage one time. That was fine for the Burges Forum. But it was a little distracting at the CBA Forum. Originally it was going to be just the Democratic candidates, but the Republicans must've lobbied to be included.

Frankly, they should have their own debate. But I think they understand that no one would attend so they figure the best way to get exposure is to be included with the Democrats.

There were some pretty good moments in this debate. Strangest thing was the second video-taped message. I forget the guys name but he was also a panelist. As a panelist, I thought he did really well. He should be on more panels.

But he should never video tape messages again. I didn't understand what the hell he was trying to say. Most people watching were wondering what the point was as well. He kept talking about San Antonio, and how we shouldn't me ashamed of who we are, blah, blah, blah, pinata, blah, blah, blah, posadas, blah, blah, blah, another phrase in Spanish, blah, blah, blah.

Sorry, the part of the white guy who uses Spanish phrases is already taken by Eliot Shapleigh.

But once the debate got started the candidates came out guns blazin'. Overall, I thought the best performance of the debate went to...sit down for this one because it might surprise you...Jerome Tilghman.

He seems to have hit his stride. Before he was just empty talk. He was the guy that spoke but never said anything. It was just a string of metaphors thrown together. But now Tilghman added substance to the flowery delivery.

And he went on the attack. He had what I thought was a very effective two-pronged attack. It sounds like he spends more time criticizing O'Rourke but now that I've watch the debate a couple of times, its pretty even. It just seems like more because O'Rourke really hasn't ever been the subject of a sharp attack from one of his opponents in a debate.

Tilghman has come a long way. He now LOOKS like one of the top candidates. He isn't actually one of the top candidates and won't win because he has no money, no base of support, no clearly identified platform, etc, etc, etc, but it has been a night and day improvement. Who knows, if he gets some Super PAC money, he might make a little noise.

Reyes had his best performance in a debate so far. David Crowder asked a question that I thought was a total softball for the other candidates and it appeared to be a question just to spur them to attack Reyes, but after they were all done taking their shots at Congressman Reyes, I thought the Congressman responded pretty well.

O'Rourke did what he always does. Delivered a clear, sharp, and effective message. He is a gifted and dynamic communicator. He is a steady and consistently good debate performer. I have never seem him have a bad performance.

It makes it easier to notice how well the other candidates have improved when you compare it against O'Rourke's steady performances.

Ben Mendoza...well, he's Ben Mendoza. He physically rolled up his sleeves to make a point. Not surprising coming from Mendoza. I wonder if he understands how irrelevant he is sometimes.

Barbara Carrasco had an up and down performance. She was pretty good at times, but at other times she seems unsure of her answers.

Corey Rohen...well, he's in a tough position. He's the inferior Republican candidate. Second place in the ugly chick competition. Don't get me wrong, he would be a super star compared to a Tim Besco. But he's the lesser of the Republican candidates, who are irrelevant to begin with.

He's a better quality candidate than Mendoza, who frankly I think should be running as a Republican.

There was a great exchange in which they were asked to all pretend there were eating at Jaxson's and talking. (Frankly, I thought the premise of that exercise was pointless and silly. It was a little voyeuristic. Like we were collective eavesdropping.) At one point Reyes told Tilghman he could charm the pants off of anybody.


Tilghman repeated the line and tried to make it a positive.

Ben Mendoza then said something only Ben Mendoza could (or would for that matter) say, and O'Rourke mercifully ended it.

De La Torre Resignation Letter

Dear Socorro ISD Family:

It is with mixed emotions that I announce my intention to leave the Socorro Independent School District at the conclusion of the school year.

Serving as the superintendent of schools for the Socorro Independent School District over the past three years has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience of my professional career. With the help of everyone, we have accomplished so much over the past three years. Ironically, it is our great work and the success of our students and staff that have led to a unique and exciting opportunity to provide leadership and support to 31 superintendents, their respective school districts, and the nearly 250,000 students they serve in the Silicon Valley of Northern California. This opportunity to serve as the County Superintendent in Santa Clara County, coupled with our strong desire to reunite with family and friends in California compelled me to pursue and accept the position.

I am grateful to the Board of Trustees who consistently provided extraordinary leadership, counsel, and support during my tenure. They are a dedicated and caring group of individuals who should serve as a model for other governance teams. I will miss the unparalleled support and expertise that I received from my Cabinet and District Leadership Team. I am genuinely convinced that the Socorro Independent School District has the greatest principals and teachers in Texas.

And finally, to all the teachers, support staff, students, their families, and the community, thank you for having embraced my family and for having entrusted me to lead the Socorro Independent School District on your behalf.


Xavier De La Torre, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Oaxaca Fundraiser

I wasn't able to attend Dora Oaxaca's fundraiser but attendees told me that the turnout was pretty good, possibly as high as 50-60 people.

I'm told she received a lot of enthusiastic encouragement from supporters, which is not a surprise because supporters are supposed to support you.

I'm also told by an attendee that the Sheriff's Officers Association and CLEAT are going to stand firm with their support for Oaxaca.

I forgot to mention that Commissioner Gandara's office was close and no one was in attendance all day long. However a search warrant for the office was executed on Wednesday night.

So far there is no indication of how much money was raised a the fundraiser and the attendee I spoke with indicated that the mood was upbeat and Commissioner Gandara's name was not mentioned.

So I Stopped by the Ron Paul Event Wednesday Night...

The Ron Paul supporters held a Q&A Event at the Percolator on Wednesday night. It was their first attempt at holding an event like this and I was surprised by a few things.

I was surprised at how many people showed up. I expected the place to be half-full at best. But the place was packed and I don't think there any open seats.

I was also impressed by the fact that most of the people in the meeting demonstrated a pretty strong grasp of the issues. And most have a freakishly deep knowledge of portions of financial issues.

They all seem to be completely lost on the Civil Rights Bill. They seem to get it confused with other later policies and blur it all together.

That being said, they were a very welcoming group. Although their insistence in signing in was a bit annoying. It started to feel like that awkward feeling when you have a Jehova's Witness that catches you at home in your yard and you feel cornered.

The meeting was pretty much split in to three parts. A YouTube fest, Q& A, and "Testimonials".

I didn't understand the purpose of watching all the YouTube videos. The people that were there were all Ron Paul supporters, so there weren't trying to make any converts. That seemed to be a bit of a waste of time.

But I found the Q&A part the most interesting. Smart people in the room. A couple of extremists that I know from awhile back, like one guy who is a member of a Minute Man type of organization.

The room was filled with smart, young people. And at least three people that identified themselves as former Obama supporters. Almost all of them said they were not Republicans or didn't like the Republican party.

There was lots of "end the Fed" talk too. But I learned a lot from those people.

They are really motivated. They are sorta organized. They are social networking warriors. I dig their energy and enthusiasm. I'm willing to bet that if you took a handful of Ron Paul supporters, a handful of rank-and-file El Paso Republicans and a handful of rank-and-file Democrats, the Ron Paul supporters would have the deepest knowledge of their particular pet issues.

If they can congeal in to something efficient and tangible, they can make some things happen. But they don't appear to be concerned about much other than federal issues. That means their movement is destined to be cyclical instead of something steady and constant. If they can fix that, they might have a chance to influence local policy.

I'd be lying if I didn't point out one observation that I thought was interesting. Ron Paul supporters are known for their passionate following of Dr. Paul. But for all the ridicule of "Hope and Change" and the "messiah" when referring to the President, I did find it noteworthy that one of them referred to the Constitution as "divinely inspired" and the "testimonials" had a definite Pentecostal feel to it.

When the "campaign for liberty" started in El Paso a few years ago, you could fit the core supporters of the movement in a booth at Denny's. Now they fill the Percolator. Steady and consistent growth is their key. They are having another event soon (I'll get back to you when I find out when) and I'll bet they have more people than they had Wednesday).

Post-Fight Interviews: CBA Congressional Debate

Here are the other interviews I conducted after the Congressional debate on Wednesday that was hosted by the Central Business Association. I posted the interview with Ben Mendoza last night, so here are interviews with Jerome Tilghman, Beto O'Rourke, and Congressman Reyes.

Since my tripod was stolen yesterday, the next one I get will have to have Tilghman and O'Rourke settings so that it doesn't look like I'm shooting video of their nostrils.

Obviously given the Gandara story, I am a little late in catching up on some of the stuff I meant to post previously. So I'll catch up as much as I can today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ben Mendoza Interview

I dig the post-fight interview. Since I've interviewed all the other Congressional candidates I thought I would take the opportunity to interview Mendoza.

During the interview I asked him about the decision from the 8th Court of Appeals because he was a central figure in the recall effort.

And yes...I asked about his idea to make Mexico part of an American commonwealth...Sorry, couldn't resist.

Kennedy's of the Valley

Before you guys blow a gasket about my comments on ABC 7 about the Gandara's being the Kennedy's of the Valley, let me explain the entire interview.

The person that coined that phrase is Joe Muench, not me! I have actually made fun of him about that.

Earlier in the interview, that did not get aired, I stated that they were previously labeled as the Kennedy's of the Valley.

I didn't come up with that. In fact, as I have said before, the only thing I think they have in common is that they are a political family and to the best of my knowledge, Catholic. That's it.

Muench labeled them that a few years ago. Chill out. It wasn't me.

Agency Press Release on Gandara Arrest

Gandara EP Indictment Final

Dora Oaxaca: "I am staying in the race."

Dora Oaxaca, candidate for County Commissioner Precinct 3 and staffer for County Commissioner Willie Gandara, Jr has indicated that she will stay in the race.

Which should surprise no one. Oaxaca is no stranger to adversity and if anyone can mount a campaign through some tough times, its Oaxaca.

Affirming her desire to stay in the race for County Commissioner, Oaxaca stated, "I am an open book...I have nothing to fear and nothing to hide...if anything, this makes me want it more. I have been so blessed with an outpouring of support this morning..."

When asked directly if she was going to drop out of the race Oaxaca replied, "I'm not. I'm going to stand on my own merit and my own heart is with the working people of the Precinct."

Oaxaca has been a close political operative for both Willie Gandara, Sr and Willie Gandara Jr who are now both facing separate indictments.

When asked how she felt voters were going to feel after this arrest about the fact that she was connected to Gandara's and she stated that "I am connected politically but I am not involved in their personal lives."

In his introductory remarks for Dora Oaxaca's campaign announcement, Commissioner Gandara stated, "...Dora Oaxaca is not my friend - she is my family...the reason I am County because of Dora Oaxaca...I am who I am because of her." 

Gandara later went on to say, "...that is why it is of the utmost importance that Dora Oaxaca fills my shoes..." and bit back tears as he introduced Oaxaca as his "best friend".

Oaxaca stated that the fundraiser scheduled for tonight will continue as planned from 5:30-7:30pm at La Casa Del Puro (Cigar Lounge) 216 West Franklin Avenue. The fundraiser is being hosted by the El Paso County Sheriff's Officers Association and the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas.


EL PASO – Vince Perez, Candidate for County Commissioner Precinct 3
released the following statement on yesterday’s arrest of Precinct 3
County Commissioner Willie Gandara on drug trafficking charges by DEA,
ICE, IRS, and the FBI:

“Yesterday’s arrest of Commissioner Willie Gandara is yet another sad
example of the ‘cycle of failed leadership’ in the Lower Valley and
Far East El Paso where another elected official has undermined the
integrity of public office.  This latest allegation against another
member of the Gandara family further demonstrates the urgent need for
new leadership that moves beyond the Gandara family and those who have
spearheaded their campaigns for public office.

“In order to break this cycle of failed leadership, the people of
Precinct 3 must demand greater accountability of candidates seeking to
represent them in public office.  When I first challenged Commissioner
Gandara to serve on Commissioner’s Court for Precinct 3, I highlighted
the fact that Commissioner Gandara spent $90,000 of his own wealth to
get himself into office, yet he has the worst attendance record on
Commissioner’s Court.   Such actions demonstrate the use of public
office for personal gain, not the public good.  He appointed his own
campaign manager, Dora Oaxaca, who also served as campaign manager for
Willie Gandara, Sr.’s mayoral campaign, to serve on the University
Medical Center Board of Directors, even though Commissioners
themselves are prohibited from serving in such a capacity.

“Despite the fact that Ms. Oaxaca has now actively worked for two
members of the Gandara family who have been arrested by federal
agents, and also formed a consulting firm with Ruben ‘Sonny’ Garcia,
who is also under federal indictment for fraud and embezzlement, she
is now seeking to replace her boss on Commissioner’s Court.  Clearly,
our community cannot afford to perpetuate this cycle.

“As I have emphasized during the course of this campaign – the people
of Precinct 3 deserve better.  I remain committed to fighting for new
leadership to restore integrity to the office of County Commissioner
Precinct 3 and rebuild the public’s trust.  I ask the people of the
Lower Valley and Far East El Paso to help break the cycle of failed
leadership by joining us in this cause and voting in the upcoming
Democratic Primary Election to avoid a situation where only a small
percentage of voters decide the course of the Precinct’s future.”


Gandara Court Appearance

County Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr, who spent the nigh in County Jail has a hearing this afternoon at 2:30pm in Judge Guaderama's court.

Gandara was transferred from the El Paso County Jail to the Federal Courthouse shortly after 11:00am this morning in an SUV. Gandara was in the rear passenger seat, but I was unable to get video. The El Paso Times photographer is a real pro and risked injury to himself to get a good shot. He ended up getting pretty close to the window so it will probably be in the El Paso Times tomorrow and is likely on the website now.

The windows were heavily tinted on the vehicle and Gandara was put in the vehicle while the garage doors were closed. When the vehicle initially exited the jail Gandara appeared to be ducking low but was sitting upright when the vehicle passed my position.

The vehicle taking him to the federal courthouse appeared to gun-it from the stop sign as we (myself and the photogs from the real media) tried to get video.

Oh, and in a matter of seconds, a passer-by must've taken off with my tripod...

Luckiest Guy in the Borderland?

Do you remember what was the big story in the news just before 9-11?

I do.

It was shark attacks.

We stopped talking about shark attacks after 9-11.

Do you know what the big political story was gonna be today before the Gandara arrest?

The mayoral candidate that was allegedly caught with a stripper in Sunland Park and the mayor that was allegedly extorting the candidate. That was the crap that was going to have this community enthralled for weeks.

Lucky for them the Gandara thing happened last night.

BTW, props to the El Paso Times and ABC 7 for being on top of things. They had great stories last night. The 10 o'clock news had sex and drugs. All they were missing was a story about rock n' roll.

The Gandara Arrest and Legalization Argument

I'll make this brief. People are already giving their various opinions about how this arrest of Willie Gandara Jr impacts the on-going discussion of drug legalization.

I honestly don't think the general public is going to be receptive to a legalization argument after this arrest. In fact, I think it makes the conversation even more of a central point, particularly as it relates to the Congressional race.

People are not going to react to this development in a positive way. I know its a little early to say, but I'd venture to guess that a majority of the people in El Paso are going to be even more against legalization than before.

Impact of Gandara Arrest: Quick Thoughts

Okay, so details of what Gandara is being accused of aren't out yet, but I think its important to go over the political impact.

In America we are innocent until proven guilty, so we should proceed based on that assumption.

But in politics, people think the opposite. What that means is that this arrest is likely the end of Gandara's campaign for HD 75. I don't think that there is any question that he is unelectable at this time based on what he is facing. In fact, he's got more important things to deal with.

Some other possible impacts:

Will he stay on Commissioner's Court or will he resign his seat? His father stayed on as Mayor when he was indicted but he was recalled shortly thereafter. Depending on the complexity of the case, there is a possibility that he would resign. If that is the case, the County Judge would appoint a replacement.

Political contributions - Given his charges, people who received contributions from Gandara are going to be having to do some damage control. Ouch.

Suddenly in HD 75 there are no candidates with an established base of support in the deep valley. So that really opens things up.

The biggest question is what happens to Dora Oaxaca?

Dora is tough. Strong, strong woman. She's been through a lot in her life. Timing is everything in politics and she knew it was now or never when she threw her hat in the ring. She's no quitter.

But as I've written before, earlier this week in fact, she should've distanced herself from the Gandara's. She didn't and now she is going to be hurt by the association. He introduced her at her campaign announcement. He said she wasn't his friend, she was his family. With a headline like the one likely to be in the El Paso Times later this morning...I doubt her campaign can survive through the end of the month.

Ironically she has a fundraiser later today with the Sheriff's Officer's Association. That would really put the SOA in a tough spot, although I think Oaxaca and SOA's head hancho Mr. Marrufo go way back. And if memory serves, I think they endorsed Sarinana in PCT 1 when he was Commissioner after the FBI raided his office. Although Sarinana was never charged with anything. Gandara is, so this might be a different case.

At any rate, whatever the Association does, it is going to be scrutinized.

If I had to bet, knowing Dora's demeanor, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if she stayed in the campaign. Wouldn't surprise me at all.

Clearly the Gandara arrest is going to make a splash in the HD 75 race and will ripple in to the Precinct 3 race.

Perhaps even further.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ABC 7 & EP Times: Gandara Arrested on Drug Charges

According to reports on El Paso Times and ABC 7, County Commissioner and candidate for House District 75 has been arrest on federal drug trafficking charges.

They also report that his home in Socorro was raided tonight by multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI, ICE, and the IRS.

This is a story that is going to echo throughout the campaigns. Stay tuned to the local media outlets for more information.

Winners and Losers of New Election Date

Now that the San Antonio Courts have tentatively set a date for the election (May 29th), its time to talk about who are the winners and losers.

So here's what that looks like.

In general, front-runners are losers in the date change because of the fact that its more time that their opponents can bite in to their leads and more time where they can make a mistake along the way.

To a degree, we are all losers. The tone of this election cycle is ugly, even by El Paso standards. Trust me, it ain't gonna get nicer along the way. Its going to get even worse, so in that sense we all lose.

The candidates that haven't been able to raise money are going to be in even more pain because of the election move. It means it will take more money to get their message out to voters.

But lets talk about some specific candidates in terms of who is hurt and who benefits from the election date change.

We'll start with the Congressional race:

Congressman Reyes: Hurt - it gives his main opponent more time to visit with voters and make his case. It also gives the Super PACS more time to raise money against the Congressman. Also means more time for negative headlines to surface. But he does have the benefit of having the ability to raise money and sustain a long, bloody battle which will blunt some of the negative impact of the election date change.

Beto O'Rourke: Benefits - He benefits completely. Any additional time for him is a benefit. More time for the  Super PACS to raise money for him, more time for him to work the ground, more time for a negative headline or two about the Congressman to pop up.

Jerome Tilghman and Ben Mendoza - Neither. They are not a factor in the race. Doesn't matter how much time they have, unless one of them is suddenly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize or reveals that he is secretly Superman, they aren't going to matter at all in this race, so when the election is doesn't matter. They are still going to get the same number of votes. Themselves and a few family and friends.

House District 75

Mary Gonzalez - Benefits - She's the front-runner in the race and I said in general the front-runners are hurt by the election date, but she might actually be the exception. Why? Because she is going to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of someone else's misfortune. Which leads me to the next candidate...

Willie Gandara Jr. -Hurt - probably more than anyone else in the election. The reason is because that means the election will be after his father's first court date. No matter what happens on that day, its going to generate negative press. That hurts Gandara and benefits Gonzalez.

Hector Enriquez - Benefits - It gives him more time to work his plan and try to influence voters. Money might be an issue for him. Which would also be a concern for Gonzalez.

Art Fierro - Benefits - maybe. Depends on the lines and the residency requirements. If things go the way he wants, he can get it in gear and quickly become a front-runner again. Time is on his side in that case.

County Commissioner's Court Precinct 1

Its an open seat and I don't think any candidate is really hurt or helped by the election date change. Although I think the person most on the edge of their seat is Carlos Leon. There is a real possibility that he might not be able to even get in the race. All depends on what the courts say about filing dates, although I'm inclined to believe he'll be able to get in the race. What hurts Leon is the fact that organizations have already started their endorsement processes and since he's not on the ballot yet, he's losing out. The most notable being the Coalition of Public Safety (COPS) endorsement, which is set to take place very soon. That one should be a lay-up for him but if he's not on the ballot, he's not going to get the endorsement.

County Commissioner's Court Precinct 3

Dora Oaxaca - Hurt - She's so closely tied to the Gandara's that anything that is negative for them is negative for her. They are so close that if Willie catches a fever, Dora is going to be sweating. For some reason they have this idea that their connection to Gandara is only positive and not negative at all. That somehow "the community knows the difference between the two". Which is not only patently false, but it is also at least a passive acknowledgement that Willie's rep ain't what it used to be down in the valley. Plus she's going to get contributions from the Gandaras. When something negative about them hits the papers, she's gonna feel the impact as well.

Vince Perez - Benefits. He has more time to bite in to the district and raise his profile. He also has more time to draft and implement messaging strategy against his opponents. He's methodical and the more time he has, the more he benefits.

Chente Quintanilla - Benefits. He gets more time to raise money and try to get his campaign back in the black. He's got a big family to do a lot of the campaign work that has to get done so the extra time is helpful to him.

HD 77

Aaron Barraza - Benefits. Its a big-time benefit for Barraza because he needs the time. He needs the time to learn about the issues, develop an understanding of the district, try to bite in to Marquez's support in the district, raise more money, and become a better quality candidate. If you've seen him speak in a group then you know he's not ready. He's been doing every thing possible to avoid scrutiny from media or his opponent. And that has been pretty smart on his part because if they get in a debate, Marquez is going to eat him alive. So the more time he has to go to candidate boot camp, the better. Barraza is really helped by the longer campaign period. He does well from what I'm told, one-on-one when he's on someone's door step, so the more time he has to do that, the better. He just needs to avoid being asked questions about policy, positions, or ideas. He also needs to avoid side-by-side comparisons with Marquez. His inexperience and lack of knowledge of the issues is really pronounced when they are side-by-side on a stage.

State Rep Marisa Marquez - Hurt...sorta. Its more time for her opponent to get up-to-speed on issues. Its more time for him to fund raise. Its more time for him to walk neighborhoods aggressively. But much like the Congressman, the negative impact will be softened by the fact that as a Committee Vice Chair, albeit in the minority, she can start raising big money if things get tight.

Interview with Rep Pete Gallego

Here is video of an interview I conducted with State Rep Pete Gallego who was in town as part of a campaign swing in his bid to unseat Francisco "Quico" Canseco.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

City Council Lost a Park

We've all done it before. Lost our keys, lost our phone, lost the remote control, in the case of some people...lost their mind...

But in another blow to public confidence in our officials, the geniuses at the City, I'm not sure which one yet, seem to have misplaced an entire freakin' park.

A park in Rep Holguin's district has been the subject of a debate between Rep Holguin and the City Park Department. Apparently they seem to think the park at the corner of the I-10 and Zaragoza (you know the one where they have a carnival set-up every once in a while?) is not a park.

Rep Holguin pointed out that the City had been maintaining it to some degree.

Watch the video on the city channel.


Only in El Paso can an entire park be lost...

Congressional Candidates Seek Debate Supporters

Within minutes of one another today, Congressman Reyes and Beto O'Rourke sent emails to supporters requesting their support at the next debate, set for tomorrow.

The debate will be at the Double Tree hotel downtown.

It may be the last, if not one of the last times the two major candidates meet head to head.

The fact that those two campaigns have the technological resources to do a rapid invitation to a list of voters is is yet another reason why this is essentially a two-horse race.

ABC 7 Xtra: 8th Court of Appeals Decision on Cook Case

Ya know, before the decision handed down by the 8th Court of Appeals, the central players in the recall movement wouldn't shut up. They were everywhere. A running camera and an open mic where their best friends.

Now, they are no where to be found. Theresa Caballero, who is in the middle of a campaign for a judicial position, and who has run basically on the argument that she is a champion for justice, is no where to be found.

Interestingly during her comments to the El Paso Young Stonewall Democrats endorsement meeting Caballero talked about how she has been "fighting for gays, fighting for blacks, fighting for Mexicans, fighting for women, fighting for whites..." and even went so far as to distance herself from Pastor Brown's views on homosexuality.

But its in her effort to distance herself from Brown's comments that I find most interesting. They start at around 3:50 mark of the video below. She specifically said that she didn't want the views of some of the people she has represented to be confused with her own. She also spoke about defending a cross-section of people and being a professional.

Which is a valid argument if you were talking about someone's constitutional right to a defense. But she wasn't representing Brown and the El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values in a criminal matter. She was not appointed to be their counsel. She CHOSE to represent them. Let's not confuse the facts about that.

Later she went on to say that she signed the recall petition because members of city council threw out the vote and that "...its is a pillar of Democracy that the vote must be respected..."

Well, I would beg to differ. The Supreme Court ruled in Gore V. Bush to the contrary.

She closed by saying she will "defend anybody who is wronged by the process". Well, once again, Caballero was not defending Brown and the EPFTFV. It was not a criminal proceeding. Furthermore, her basic premise is wrong. No one was wrong by the process.

Our city charter, ratified by the voters, expressly conveys the power to overturn the ordinance to members of council. People should understand that and stop saying that something that isn't true.

They are either purposely lying or ignorant to the facts.

The members of council that were facing the recall should've corrected people every time they said that. But they didn't, and thats why people think the city council did something wrong. But they didn't. They were entirely within the powers conveyed to them by the city charter.

During the ABC 7 Xtra show on Sunday, someone actually contacted the show and called their actions "unconstitutional".

Understand the process. Its important.

I'm looking forward to what Caballero and Brown have to say on the ruling of the 8th Court of Appeals. It appears now that all 4 judges that reviewed the case (Alvarez and the 3 members of the 8th Court of Appeals) all came to the same conclusion...that the EPFTFV illegally obtained signatures.

Brown appears to have said something along the lines of the 8th Court of Appeals had their own agenda. Which is interesting because Brown invoked the 5th Amendment repeatedly during the trial. And what is even more interesting is that the decision was unanimous. The Court is comprised of three members, one of whom is Republican Chris Antcliff.

Can't wait to hear some reaction from those on the side of the recall....

Tejano Dems to Meet for Endorsements Tonight

The Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats, who only recently came in to compliance with Texas Campaign Finance codes relating to political fundraising and spending, will be holding their endorsement meeting tonight.

Tejano Democrats will hold the meeting in secret, with no one being allowed to be in the room at the time of the meeting unless they are duly credentialed after 6:00pm.

There is no indication as to why they are so secretive about their endorsement meeting this year. Normally they have been open to the public, but under the Blanche Darley leadership the meeting is now behind close doors.

Typically there is a fair amount of horse-trading and arguing going on at these meetings.

Tejano Democrats are the only organization in town that does not have a transparent endorsement process and the only organization that holds their endorsement behind closed doors.

Tejano Democrats are also the only organization that actually has to have law enforcement at their meetings to keep order. They will have at least two constables at the meeting tonight.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Court Rules in Favor of Cook, Against El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values

The 8th Court of Appeals has effectively ended the recall effort in a decision today. According to a piece in the El Paso Times, the 8th Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mayor Cook.

The El Paso Times says that the Court ruled that the El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values violated the law in the collection of the signatures.

That leads to a question of whether or not there will be any consequences against the El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values organization.

So the petitions get thrown out because they were, according to the Courts' ruling, collected improperly. There will be no recall as a result. In order for one to take place, the El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values would have to start all over and collect signatures in accordance with the law.

And now, the whining about the 8th Court of Appeals being involved in a wide-spread conspiracy to "take away the voice of the people" starts in 3....2....1....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reyes Ad to Air on Spanish-Language Television

The Reyes Super Bowl ad is reportedly going to be aired on Premio Lo Nuestro.

Morris Pittle - head creative guy for the Reyes campaign, said that "This is the first time in a local election that Spanish-language advertising will truly play a meaningful role in communicating with voters."

The ad is supposed to be identical to the one that ran during the Super Bowl with the exception of the end, where the Congressman would give the approval blurb in Spanish.