Saturday, July 28, 2012

Election Night Parties

Dear candidates, text, email or Facebook me your election night shindig info.

Ill post it if you want it publisized or I can hold on to the info if you don't. I'm already getting media calls about it so let me know...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hey Cervantes, You Don't Scare Me Vato, Try Harder...

So this guy Mike Cervantes, Contreras, Johnson, Smith, or whatever, decided he wants to pick a fight with me.

Actually from what I read, it sounded more like a threat.

Sorry Cervantes, I've been threatened by a whole lot more intimidating people than you. You're going to have to try much harder. But if you are interested in tossing threats my way, get in line vato. The people in this town that want ill to fall upon me is pretty long. You think you're the first person in this town to toss a threat my way? A threat from you is like a girl from my high school weren't the first...and you damn sure won't be the last...(only I don't have to tell you I love you and not mean it).

But since you decided you want to pick a fight...I'll play.

Lets start with buttering my bread. Clearly you are making an allegation that I know for a fact you are incapable of substantiating. But from your looks like you are used to writing things you can't substantiate...

So let's talk about it.

My basic premise is that I have serious issues with Cervantes, Lopez, Johnson, or whatever his name is, because if he can't get facts about his opponents record right, well then I feel it calls in to question his decision-making.

Let's start with the ambulance. Life Ambulance has had their contract with the county for years. Probably close to 20 years. Its not a new thing. Perez has only been on Commissioner's Court for 4 years. You're a lawyer and went to college, I'm sure you can do the math on that one. From what I was able to gather there weren't any complaints or anything about the service of the company, but they wanted to put it out to bid for the mere fact that they had the contract for so long. It makes sense to give another company a shot every now and then.

Life Ambulance lost their lobbyist a while back and Art Fierro was recommended for the position. Perhaps Cervantes, Contreras, Smith or whatever his name is, should've actually inquired about his contract before he makes accusations. In fact his poll workers at Pavo Real are going so far as to tell voters Perez is corrupt at polling places and saying that she participates in nepotism.

First, your poll workers should know how to pronounce the word. Next, they should know what the definition is.

But if you read the contract it specifically states that he agreed to work with the ambulance company as long as they agree to never ask him to assist with County or Community College business.  Perez HERSELF drew up the contract in order to avoid a conflict.

It also appears she filed a conflict affidavit with the County Clerk saying she had a personal conflict with the ambulance company. When the issue comes up, not only does Perez not vote on the issue, she actually gets up and leaves the room. That is going above and beyond what she has to do. Frankly that is the kind of ethical leadership that regrettably is the exception rather than the rule.

Life Ambulance has made contributions to Perez and other members of Commissioner's Court. Perez is the only one that doesn't vote on their issues.

And now, lets talk about Mr. Head. He's the spouse of Perez's staffer Norma. Perez appointed him to a commission with the county. Frankly, not enough people apply for those positions (which I don't think are even paid) and so they are always needing people. Mr. Head is a retired big shot from TxDOT. From what I gather, he's got solid credentials. Thats what we want in appointees.

He donated $50 to Perez's campaign. 50 bucks. I realize that elected officials have sold their souls in this town for pretty cheap, but not $50 cheap. Not for something that doesn't benefit Perez or Mr. Head one bit.

And the Sports Park, give me a break, Perez wasn't even on the Commissioner's Court until after the deal with Big League dreams.

And then there's the accusation that Perez has never held a community meeting. I have video of a community meeting Perez held. I recorded it. I can also put you in touch with constituents that attended and I'm quite certain there was a sign-in sheet. But the bottom line is there is video of something alleged to have never happened. All it takes is a little leg work to track this stuff down.

What's the term they use for that...oh yeah, DUE DILIGENCE.

I'd figure an attorney would be more diligent with facts Mr. Cervantes. So I stand by my personal assessment that someone who can't get basic facts rights causes me doubt as to whether or not I feel comfortable putting them on the bench.

And as for my so-called limited knowledge I almost don't want to dignify that with a response, but lets face it, I love a good fight...

When people start coming to you for your analysis on the political waters in El Paso then we can talk. Until then, how about we leave the law to you and you leave politics to someone who clearly has a deeper understanding and knowledge of it than you do.

Your serve Contreras, er, Cervantes...

SSSSSSsssssss.....Hear that? Sounds like butter burning...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Early Voting Starts Today - Who I'm Voting For and Why

Early voting starts today and sadly, even though most of my readers are politically minded, most of you will not vote. If you don't, you suck.

Here is a list of people I'm supporting. You are free to vote for who you wish. I'm just telling you who I've voting for and what my reasons for supporting them are.

Judicial Races - Honestly, I'm undecided in a couple of them.

8th Court of Appeals - I'm still undecided. This race features Yvonne Rodriguez and Marcos Lizarraga. Both nice people. I know them both. I voted for Stanton because I felt he was the more qualified candidate in the primary. Still haven't made up my mind between the two.

448th District Court - Regina Arditti and Sergio Enriquez. Undecided. Sergio Enriquez really hasn't campaigned at all so I sort of want to vote for Arditti just because he didn't freakin' try.

41st District Court - I'm voting for Anna Perez. I think she's the most qualified candidate and she's clearly the only candidate that has paid her dues within the El Paso Democratic Party. I hate Johnny-Come-Lately's that are never around when the real work to be done is going on but show up at election time and all of a sudden they are Democrats. Integrity matters. Someone who is willing to be a party of the Party all the time, not just during election time shows what their values and beliefs are. I have nothing against Mr. Cervantes, but I just don't think he stacks up. Especially given the fact that I'm about to set the record straight on most of the allegations he lays out in his negative mailer. If he can't get those facts right, as a voter, it gives me reason to question his decision-making.

388th - Full disclosure, Laura Strathmann is my attorney. I chose her for a reason. She has my vote.

Criminal District Court Number 1 - This one is a slam dunk. Diana Navarrete is my choice. In my opinion, Caballero is not a good choice for a judicial candidate. And I'm not the only one that thinks that way. The El Paso Times wrote about Caballero, "Theresa Caballero, has a history of showing disrespect for the rule of law and there is a question if this defense attorney could ever be neutral. It would be dangerous to have Caballero on the bench."

I have to agree.

In my opinion, I think her judgement is questionable. She was once quoted by the El Paso Times as saying of convicted felon and former Judge Manny Barraza, "I have nothing to say but good things about Judge Barraza - he's much loved in the legal community here - and that's for his fairness." 

If you recall, Judge Barraza is in prison for corruption charges alleging that Barraza traded favorable decisions for sex.

Oh yeah, and then there's the whole going-on-trial-for-her-courtroom-conduct-thing. An experienced judge who has served on the bench is far more qualified than I to assess the conduct of attorney. So I'll take Judge Smith's word for it when he was quoted by the local FOX affiliate on Caballero, "...the most egregious and disrespectful conduct by members of the Bar that I've ever seen in my 24 years of service as a Judge or in my 34 years in the practice of law."

That speaks volumes to me.

The biggest critique from many people of Caballero is that she is too political to be a judge. Her most recent mailer doesn't do anything to put those fears to rest. She's running for a position in a drug court yet incredibly her mailer focuses on the Downtown Baseball Stadium! Let me be clear...the position she is pursuing is NOT A POLICY MAKING POSITION and has absolutely ZERO to do with a baseball stadium.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

County Commissioner Precinct #3 - Let me be clear. I like Chente. I've drank with him. His grandson is a buddy. I've drank more beers with him. Hell, I've drank with several members of the family. In fact, they thought I was a Gandara once. Funny story.

So its not personal, but if I had to vote in the precinct I'd be voting for Vince Perez. I honestly can not wrap my head around lower valley politicians complaining about "dirty politics". First of all...if ANYONE in the County has a well-earned reputation for dirty campaigning, its the valley. If you think I'm wrong you either don't know what you are talking about or are lying through your teeth. No part of the County plays more dirty than the valley.

In fact, if it weren't for Sunland Park, there wouldn't be a place that played dirtier within a few hundred miles.  Don't believe me or are mad that I said that? Tough cookies. I've block-walked and spent more time observing lower valley politics than almost any of you reading this so don't get your panties in a wad.

What Perez has done has been 100% issue-based. Its not dirty. Dirty would be making unfounded, non-issue-based allegations. Perez has only gone after his opponents record. Thats not dirty.

In fact, there's a large and rather surprisingly large vulnerable area of Quintanilla's record that could be focused on and hasn't been. Quintanilla was included in a session wrap-up in Austin and was rated "furniture" by an Austin publication. Not once, but twice.

Essentially what they are saying is that Quintanilla didn't do anything while in the state legislature.

As a Chicano, I have a major issue with Quintanilla's record. He was 100% okay with UTEP ending a Cesar Chavez holiday. No self-respecting Chicano activist can ever be okay with a senior Latino legislator taking a position like that. At that point, I don't care if he speaks Spanish. If he's not going to speak up for us, what the hell is the point?

I hope that all the old-guard Chicano's remember that.

That part of the County has faced a cycle of failed leadership. Leadership that has failed to effectively advocate for that part of the County. Leadership that has failed to deliver.

Want an example? Think about this one for a few minutes. Have you ever seen the parks in the valley? There are dog parks in East El Paso that have better facilities, more grass, and better play equipment than parks for CHILDREN in the valley.

That isn't going to sit too well with any parent, even the ones that are pet owners. I'm sure everyone loves Fido, but every parent loves Junior more.

I think the Valley can do better that the leadership they have had. What the Valley needs are new names, new faces, and new blood. They need someone strong and capable of advocating for their community. I believe Vince Perez is that candidate.

If I were a voter in Precinct 3, I'd vote for Vince Perez.

By the way, shout out to Nick Ybarra:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Navarrete Mail

Turns out one of my readers, Jorge from Central, hooked me up with a mailer from Navarrete. I haven't seen Caballero's yet but I find Navarrete's to be very effective and on point.

Judicial Cookie-Cutter Mail Pieces Drop

I guess all the judicial candidates must've got a group discount on printing because almost all of them dropped mail that landed in the last couple of days and most of them were the exact same size.

Frankly, most of the mailers sucked pretty bad. Some more than others.

Yvonne Rodriquez's piece was actually pretty good. Great front and the back had good layout and messaging. I liked the front of Anna Perez' piece because it was a sharp design and a strong message about qualifications. I wasn't crazy about the back. I don't know why there was a definition of the word qualified. Seemed like wasted space.

Judge Arditti's mail piece. The front was great. The back...what the hell? WHAT THE HELL? Waaaay to much text. Too small and too much. You're target is usually an older voter, its too crammed. They are trying to do too much.

Horrible piece.

It would be the worst of the bunch if it weren't for Cervantes' piece. Too heavy with text and had zero visual appeal. He's squinting in the picture with Dolores Reyes who is endorsing his candidacy, but I'm not sure how many people will understand that she was a former opponent. He has a pretty strong negative attack on the back that could be pretty effective...if it weren't mostly false. I'll write a piece about that next.

Judge Lizarraga's piece is probably the most frustrating piece. I don't like the color scheme or layout or messaging. That's not the bad part. The bad part is that he didn't household his mail. This is a little inside-baseball, but house-holding the mail is important for a couple of reasons. First of which is the fact that its cheaper to send one piece of mail to a household instead of one piece to each individual voter in a home.

The second reason is more practical. Who the hell wants to receive two, three, or even four copies of the same piece of mail in one house? If you're going to send a piece of mail to each individual, at least address it to the individual voter. That didn't happen with Lizarraga in this piece. I know a few examples of mail sent to a home with multiple voters and there was a copy for each target voter. Thats great, but they were all addressed to the "Hernandez Family".

Annoying and a waste.

I heard Caballero and Navarrete also sent out mail but I haven't seen it yet. I'm told Caballero's was pretty effective.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Did Quintanilla Get "Caught Red-Handed"?

Just days away from the start of early voting and only days after campaign finance reports were released, Vince Perez, candidate for El Paso County Commissioner Precinct #3, issued a statement regarding the most recent campaign finance report of his opponent, State Representative Chente Quintanilla.

Perez's press statement (shown below in its entirety) indicates that Quintanilla reported a more than $400 meal expenditure for Cattleman's Steakhouse as "volunteer's food / beverages" on his campaign finance report.

Paying for meals and beverages for campaign volunteers is probably the most common campaign expense next to paper. All campaigns pay for food. But most of the time when they pay for food its something inexpensive that can feed a lot of people like pizza, tamales, sweet bread, burritos, etc. I don't recall seeing too many campaigns take their volunteers out to Cattleman's and spending more than $400.

However the Perez campaign goes on to state that Quintanilla's Cattleman's expenditure was actually for a birthday celebration for his wife and family. Perez claims that use of campaign funds for personal use violates the states campaign finance laws.

Perez says, "This is not the first time Representative Quintanilla's actions have raised questions about his ethics...Following the arrest of Commissioner Willie Gandara, our community is in desperate need of strong and ethical representation. I hope voters will reject Quintanilla's unethical pattern of behavior and put an end to the cycle of failed leadership in Precinct 3, where politicians have selfishly used public office for their own personal gain, not the public good."

Quintanilla is going to have a hard time explaining Perez' latest critique away considering the Perez campaign attached a screen shot of an actual Facebook post of a Quintanilla family member's photo of the event that has the caption "celebrating mama's birthday".

If a family member is stating that its a celebration of Gracie Quintanilla's birthday, its going to really make it difficult for Representative Quintanilla to justify the expenditure as campaign expense for volunteers.

Ironically, Gracie Quintanilla is actually listed as his campaign treasurer.

The statement then goes on to list several of the allegations of unethical behavior Perez levels against Quintanilla including sending out calendars at tax-payer expense to people outside of his State House District, raffling off of cash to prospective voters, and seeking of an additional tax-payer funded pension.

Interestingly at a meeting of the Eastside Democrats earlier this month Representative Quintanilla took that issue head on stating that he earned his pensions and that he only made $600 a month as a State Representative.

Ironically I saw him drive away from that meeting in a Lexus sedan.

Below is the Perez statement in his entirety:

Chente Cattleman's

Camarena-Flores Releases Campaign Commercial

Lucila Camarena-Flores has released a campaign commercial. I don't know if its being aired on television of if its more for social media use.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Way to Go El Paso Democratic Party, You Never Cease to Disappoint

There was another Rally in the Valley type event last weekend to reach voters. Basically another chance give voters free beer and food.

I stopped by and kept a low-profile because I didn't want to be there long. The turn-out was abysmal. I was so surprised out how light the turnout was that I went back later thinking maybe I had the wrong information about the time.

It was a very poor turnout.

But once again, my Party and the establishment in the Party continue to disappoint me. The event was for a specific faction of judicial candidates. They are pretty much the Tejano Democrats' slate of candidates.

And yet the County Democratic Party's banner was there along with the Party Chair.

Once again, taking sides. I'm pretty sick of them doing that in contest races during a primary.

Not that they have an excellent track record. Pretty much every one of their candidates of choice has been beaten. So its becoming like being on the cover of a Madden video game.

What pisses me off the most of all this taking sides crap is the fact that the Party establishment is supportive of candidates that don't even have a strong record of supporting the Party!

What the hell?

I looked through the pictures of the event and with the exception of Judge Lizarraga and Chente Quintanilla, I don't see ANY candidate that is a Party regular. Mike Cervantes? Never really been around the Party. Theresa Caballero? Don't even get me started.

Here's an idea, how about the Party stays out of it in the Primary? And if they are going to get involved, how about getting behind candidates that actually do stuff for the Party and are actually good Democrats.

Now there's a crazy idea, the Democratic Party supporting good Democrats...

Where's the Media Focus on Run-Off Election?

I know that this town is overly-focused on the hoity-toity westside, but believe it or not, important stuff happens in this town that happens to be south or east of UTEP.

I know, shocker!

I'm a little disappointed in the absence of coverage of the run-off election. Especially the El Paso County Commissioner Precinct 3 race.

I mean sure, if there is something bad that happens in Socorro the media is camped out like a Lower Valley edition of Cheaters.

But there's been no focus whatsoever on the Commissioner's race. Its an important race because its geographically the largest part of the County. Its also the poorest and in the most-need of attention.

To say nothing of the fact that it is a seat that is vacant because of Willie Gandara, Jr. He spent a lot of time missing important meetings for his constituents.

This is one of the most important races the County has seen in quite some time because it represents a stark generational difference in the candidates and because of the circumstances of the district.

Spanish-language media in particular have a real opportunity to draw some focus to this race considering how many of the residents in the valley prefer to get their news in Spanish.

It would be really nice if the media acted accordingly...

Valley Playing Center Stage in Run-Off Election

The Valley is where all the action is at in the run-off election. There are a few races on the undercard like the judicials (yawn), and the constable race (bigger yawn) but the main event is the El Paso County Commissioner Precinct 3 race.

The judicial races are just plain not exciting. If you think they are boring in a general, just imagine how boring they are in a run-off.

The Constable race...let me see if there is a nice way to put it...Well there isn't so let me be blunt...NO ONE CARES!

Not even a little bit. Here's how most people remember the two candidates. One has the same name as the Dallas Cowpie's lame ass quarterback (Tony Romo) and the other sort of looks like El Paso's answer to Pit Bull (Javier Garcia).

Garcia and most of the judicial candidates are relying heavily on building an alliance with Chente Quintanilla's campaign. There's no nice way to put it, so I'll be frank. Trying to rely on another campaign for help is stupid. Not only are they not going to help, but you don't want their help. Focus on winning your own race and you'll be more successful.

Even El Paso Young Democrats are getting in to the mix. Earlier in the election cycle before I resigned after the regime change, we endorsed Pete Gallego for CD 23. Now the EPYD's new leadership has decided to have an "Enchanting" (yes, they really used that word to describe their meeting) in San Eli which just happens to fall on the same day that Gallego's opponent, Ciro Rodriguez, is going to have a rally in San Eli. What a coincidence.

Speaking of Rodriquez, he's upped his profile a little bit and there is much more signage in the valley for his campaign than I've seen in a while. Although, to be honest, his signs are fugly.

So about that main event...

I noticed a mailer that went out from Quintanilla's campaign that looks like a re-hash of Dora Oaxaca's campaign mailers. And we all saw how effective those were.

But more on that later...

However there was one thing in it that I thought was pretty interesting. They characterize Quintanilla as the front-runner. In fact, thats probably an accurate depiction. By all rights, Quintanilla should win. In fact, there's no excuse if he loses. He has every advantage in this race.

He's the name people know.

He's politically connected.

He's got a prominent political family.

He's the go-to guy for the lazy-ass judicial candidates that don't want to campaign in the valley on their own.

And he's raised more money.

He's Goliath. Vince Perez is David and David is not supposed to win.


As we saw in the Congressional race, having more money doesn't necessarily mean you win. Reyes spent more money than O'Rourke.

And while Quintanilla is the front-runner, lets keep some things in perspective. Essentially Quintanilla is an incumbent, for all the reasons I stated above. On election night he didn't break 40% of the vote despite having all those advantages.

Going in to a run-off, thats not exactly the best news for the candidate with all those advantages.

Goliath better check David's pockets for rocks and a sling-shot...

(BTW, if I don't win next year, Pink and Atticus are going to be fired as Staff Writers for The LionStar Blog

Do you want those two to be unemployed?)

Its Worse Than Losing to Someone Who Blogs About Cats

Okay, okay, I'll admit it, my production has fallen off lately because of the run-off election and I have my hands full with that right now. (By the way, someone asked for my thoughts on the run-off election and I'll get to that very soon, promise.)

I was nominated for Best Blogger in the Local Legends category again this year and again, I lost. My streak of failure continues. Its actually been sort of a running joke between David K and I over the last few years because there used to be several different people that put stuff like that out every year and every year I'd lose to David K.

Which never bothered me because he and I aren't competitive with one another and it was during the time when he was rippin' out an Open Letter almost weekly. Hell I voted for him.

I usually make jokes about the fact that I always lose out to some ridiculous blog topic in the What's Up Magazine version of the list. But seriously, have I angered the blogging gods?

I lost to someone who blogs about vegetables. Effin' VEGETABLES!!!!

I don't mind losing to someone who blogs about kitties, or crocheting, or classic cars, or freakin jazz music for that matter.

And I don't mind the fact that I lost to an entertainment blogger. The guy writes good stuff and I read it every day myself for news about concerts and reviews. I really dig his stuff.

But there is just something extra effin' painful about losing to some lady who blogs about FREAKIN' VEGETABLES! I'm not sure how much more what's left of my ego can take!

Hell a foodie blog would be a respectable loss.

But freakin' vegetables!!!! The lady blogs about vegetables.

Do you have any idea how much I'm going to be made fun of because of this?

A lot.

And you know what? I deserve it. Because I would make fun of me losing to a lady who blogs about FREAKIN' VEGETABLES!

Next time I go to eat chicken wings and some hot waitress brings me that little annoying container with carrot sticks and celery I think I might blow my lid. And the next time my mother or my overly-concerned daughters tell me I should eat more vegetables, I think I might disown them.

And my friends and family that are VEGETARIANS or VEGANS, you better keep your distance for a few days!!!!

I could handle losing to a blog about cats. At least they are mammals.

But freakin' VEGETABLES!

The blog is basically pictures of food. If I wanted to see pictures of food people are eating I would just look at my Instagram feed. There are plenty of pics of food there.

I spend hours collecting content, editing video, doing analysis, and writing insightful, well-researched stuff. And I lose to someone who posts recipes for freakin' roasted egg plant. Most of the people I know think and egg and a plant are two separate food items!

I don't even want to see tomato sauce for several days...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eastside Civic Association Candidate Night


DATE:  19 JULY 2012 

TIME:   5:30 PM

                             3623 Buckner ( Montana & Buckner)

          41st District Judge:
Anna Perez;
                                                Mike Cervantes
         388th District Judge:
Laura Strathman;   
                                                Lucila Flores Camare
448th District Judge: 
Regina Arditti;
Sergio H. Enriquez
          8th Court of Appeals:
Yvonne Rodriquez
                                                Marcos Lizarraga
          Criminal Court #1: 
Theresa Caballero
                                                Diana Navarrete
          County Commissioner Precinct 3: 
Chente Quintanilla
Vincent Vince Perez
          Constable Precinct 6:
 Javier Garcia
                                                 Tony Romo

Horizon and Early Voting

During the last primary the people in Horizon didn't have an early voting site but I think they might have had a mobile voting site for a part of the early voting period.

Well since the stakes are much higher in the run-off election I sure hope the County Elections Department has straightened that situation out. The only races that are still in a run-off are the judicial races (yawn) and the County Commissioner Precinct 3 race.

I talked to a few people from Horizon that are upset about the fact that they didn't get much access to early voting time. Stay tuned to this one because it might become a stink if they don't get it taken care of. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Many Rejoice at Marc Schwartz Guilty Plea

Marc Schwartz was a mover and shaker. He's the kind of political consultant that got things done. And according to multiple sources that dealt with him, he was the kind of guy that wasn't afraid to throw a few elbows when going for a rebound.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of people in this town that are pretty damn happy to see Marc Schwartz go to jail.

I've been contacted by several people, all with their own I-happy-he's-getting-what-he-deserves story. But I thought I would relay one story in particular because it exposes some of the behind the scenes stuff that happens in this town that would drive people crazy if they knew about it.

And I should start by saying, this is a story that has been relayed on talk radio previously. Roy Ortega recounted this story when he was on the air with Paul Strelzin once.

The short of it is that Marc Schwartz allegedly got Roy Ortega, a veteran newsman in El Paso, fired from his job as the News Director at KTSM back in the day.

In 1999 Ortega had assigned a sharp investigative reporter named Paul Johnson to a story investigating allegations of corruption against Schwartz who was then the public relations guy for the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. Schwartz allegedly took great exception to the presence of the news crew and Ortega says Schwartz had the Tribal Police confiscate the station's camera and destroy the video.

Ortega further alleges that Schwartz went even further and threatened the station that the Tribe would cancel their $50,000 contract with the station if they didn't get rid of Ortega.

Ortega stuck to his principles as a journalist and refused to give up on the story. The rest, as they say, is history. Ortega was let go from KTSM.

Ortega says it was later revealed that Schwartz was the one who got the tribe mixed up with Jack Abramoff who made off with $4.5 million of the Pueblo's money.

More on County Comish #3 "Republican" Candidate Fred Chavez

So I was doing some research on Fred Chavez, the GOP's candidate for El Paso County Commissioner's Court Precinct #3 and I came across something pretty interesting.

Turns out Chavez is running as a Republican but has a solid voting record as a Democrat. So I can't honestly say where his values lie in terms of politics.

Is he a Democrat in Republican clothing, or is it the opposite. One thing if for sure, he's going to lose. That Linda Chavez plea is going to be an issue, though he was going to lose because of the make-up of the precinct anyway.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I Could Be Wrong But...

If I'm not mistaken, I think Linda Chavez, who pleaded guilty today in court, is the wife of Fred Chavez. If its the same guy, then he's the guy the Republicans are running for El Paso County Commissioner in Precinct #3.

He's the sacrificial lamb that is going to get trounced by either Vince Perez or Chente Quintanilla in the general election. If its the same guy. I mean Fred Chavez is a pretty common name so there is a chance its a different guy. But then again, the Republican nominee does live in the Del Valle area and Linda Chavez represented that area on the YISD school board.

Hey, remember how the Republicans have been saying that its only Democrats that are involved in the Public Corruption Scandal?...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

State Rep Dee Margo Stands Against El Pasoans...Again

It would be funny if it weren't so important to this community but in yet another no-so-stunning development, State Representative Dee Margo has again taken a stand that many would say is against his constituents.

Certainly not the first time that has happened.

Representative Margo voted for big cuts to education in the last budget that have had an impact on El Paso area students. It was part of the Tea Party fad that thought all the state's woes could be solved by cuts. Apparently they weren't all that concerned about solving the state's drop-out rate or our ranking in education...

But now Representative Margo is in lock-step with Governor Perry who is rejecting additional funds to expand the number of children covered by medicaid.

Texas leads the nation in the rate of uninsured children and yet Perry turns down money that could help children get healthcare coverage. Please explain to me how that is even fiscally responsible. Uninsured children's healthcare is even more expensive when they are not covered. You aren't even protecting tax payers when you make such an irresponsible decision.

El Paso has a great need for coverage. Its more responsible to the tax-payers of El Paso County to make the right fiscal decision to have coverage for children rather than have tax-payers pay at a higher rate for emergency care.

The question I have is how long can someone take stands that are against the needs of their community and expect to stay in office?

Monday, July 9, 2012


Award time again people. 

This week was pretty simple.

Homeboy of the Week: Corporal Joshua Lewis. I spoke with Commissioner Lewis at a Memorial Mass a couple weeks ago and he mentioned being nervous about the fact that his son was, as we say in the military "short", but that he was still being sent to a dangerous part of Afghanistan. Its the first thing I remembered when I heard about his son. He was not only wounded, but he had the presence of mind to administer first aide to another soldier. 

Douchebag of the Week: Governor Rick Perry. He turned down money from the federal government to expand medicaid. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation. Way to go Governor.

Socorro & Sunland Park - The Perfect Example

The city of Socorro, and its cross-town step-sister city of Sunland Park are both perfect examples of why people need to be engaged voters.

Especially because they are both communities that are predominantly Latino, are a mix or rural and metro, and are on the lower end of the socio-economic scale and yet possess tremendous potential.

And they are both plagued with scandal.

They also have crappy voter participation.

That's a big part of the reason they have that problem. According to the 2010 census there are 32,013 people in Socorro. Around 14,500 people registered to vote, which is less than half the population. A large issue is obviously eligibility and that might explain why there are so few registered voters in Socorro.

But here is a stat that for which there is no excuse. Only about 1,400 people in the entire city are regular voters. And by regular voters, I mean they are voters that voted in at least 2 of the last 3 elections or better.

Commonly referred to as 2D's and 3D's.

That's right 32,013 people in the town...and only about 1,400 people regularly participate in elections. And thats just the number of people that vote in regular elections. I'm betting the number of people who vote in municipal elections is pretty close, maybe a little higher.

But if you are dealing with a universe of 1,400 voters in a given race, then your win number is only 701 votes. Essentially that means 701 people dictate what happens in that town from an electoral standpoint. Do you know how easy it is to run things when you only have to get 701 out of 32,013 people in a town to agree with you?

Let's put that in to perspective.

How many friends do you have on Facebook?

I am by no means a friend whore on Facebook, though I am more accepting of friends the past couple of months than I traditionally have been. I have 711 friends on Facebook. I know a whole lot of people that have many more Facebook friends than I do.

Get my point?

Its not that hard to run things and basically operate with impunity if there is no one there to answer to.

Former Mayor Willie Gandara won election as Mayor with only 651 votes in his favor. And you only need a couple hundred votes to be an Alderman in Socorro. Hell, most of us have that many cousins.

No one elected can say they have a mandate. In fact the only mandate in those communities as long as there is such a disengaged electorate is apathy. I firmly believe that is why controversy happens so frequently in communities like Socorro and Sunland Park.

I sound like a freakin' broken record, but the only cure for corruption comes from the people. It doesn't come from the media breaking open stories about corruption. It doesn't come from praying the rosary. Actually, that would help.

It most certainly doesn't come from people throwing up their hands and saying "ya para que? todos son chuecos!" (Something I hear from more and more voters in Socorro these days, especially following the raid on City Hall.)

It comes from people saying "ya basta!" It takes people being sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Imagine if you doubled the number of people who regularly vote. You'd make it that much harder for people to operate the way they have. Imagine if candidates had to knock on more doors. More people would have a chance to size up a candidate in person. I guarantee if we made it harder to win elections we'd end up with a better product.

The Police Department has something interesting on the back part of their patrol units. It says "Socorro, a City With a Mission".

The mission of that city should be to increase voter participation.

For God's sake people. Its for your own good.

Its not that hard to change your towns from being the perfect example of what is wrong in politics to what is right about politics. It just takes a few people and their neighbors to make change happen.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Libertarian Group Asks Questions of Congressional Candidates

First things first, lets stop pretending the general election is a "race".

It isn't.

And if you think it is, you either don't know anything about politics, are still sore over the Reyes loss and are delusional about a Republican win, or you are drinking way too much on a Sunday evening. Which if that is the case, you are forgiven because at least you are in an altered mental state voluntarily.

O'Rourke is going to win and he's going to win big. I'm sticking by what I said, I doubt the Republican nominee will top Tim Besco's performance from two years which was a total fluke in the first place.

Sorry if that hurts your little feelings Republicans but its the truth. And most of you know it.

They two most active components of the local Republican Party are the College Republicans and the Liberty Group, who are Libertarians that basically only call the GOP home because of Ron and Rand Paul.

That is pretty much all the organized activity on that side of the aisle in El Paso.

Speaking of El Paso Liberty Group, they posed some questions to the congressional candidates. They asked both candidates the same questions and the questions are very, very, very group specific. Good questions but stuff that is very interest-specific and probably isn't on the average voters' radar.

I'm a Liberal, not a Libertarian so my review of their answers would obviously be quite different than that of the El Paso Liberty group. But you can check out a blog by Alexander Mckibbon that gives a review from a Libertarian perspective.

Looks like he's been blogging for a while, so you might want to check out his archive of stuff.

Shapleigh Organizing Anti (EPISD) -Corruption Meeting

Former State Senator Eliot Shapleigh is on the prowl again regarding EPISD. As you know Shapleigh was the main antagonist of former EPISD Super Dr. Lorenzo Garcia. 

Looks like he is getting together a group to work on a little project. Here's an email that has been floating around town:

Dear Fellow PaseƱo— 
Your former state senator Eliot Shapleigh here. Hope your 4th of July is spectacular. What I want to visit with you about is our children. 
When I read the Times every day, I just get upset. Can you imagine teaching a town to cheat not compete, disappearing thousands of students on TAKS week, then claiming a bonus to boot? 
Forget jobs and new projects—if we can’t take care of our kids and get them a good education to guarantee a good job then we can’t expect jobs, companies, pediatric surgeons or even our own children to come here at all.  

Like you, Joyce and I are proud parents of EPISD grads. Like you, we have dozens of EPISD friends—teachers, principals, parents and most of all students-- all of whom deserve thanks for the jobs they do.

But sooner, not later—we all have a job to do. We have to stop the corruption, kick out the culprits and restore great education to a great district.  

Join me at EPCC, Valle Verde, Cafeteria Annex on Wednesday, July 11th at 5.30pm. Let’s dig into the facts, roll up our sleeves and start now to build back that District. Please, send this email to ten of your friends—don’t wait. Do it now. And on July 11th, give each a call to get them there. Better schools start today.  

For all of us, for all our children and grandchildren, it’s worth the fight! 
Eliot Shapleigh

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Campaign Signs Raise Possible Ethics Issue

So I've been poking around in Socorro lately and I noticed some signs on Horizon Blvd just south of North Loop. As you can see in this picture, the area the signs are on belongs to a supporter of Chente Quintanilla who is running for County Commissioner in Precinct 3 against Vince Perez.

The two are in a run-off election to replace former County Commissioner Willie Gandara. Gandara will be pleading guilty to drug charges in federal court the day before Election Day for the run-off, according to reports in the El Paso Times.

So the property belongs to a prominent businessman in Socorro named Pilo. He owns the business adjacent to the property as well and even has a mannequin holding a sign supportive of Quintanilla. Interestingly the mannequin appears to be wearing a Halloween mask that is supposed to be President Obama.

The problem with the signs aren't the ones from the campaign. Those appear to be completely in-line with campaign sign rules.

But these signs, not so much:

These signs are in violation of the rules for a multitude of reasons. First, they don't say what office Quintanilla is running for. Second, they don't have a legal disclaimer. It also raises questions about who paid for the signs and where the expenditure would be reported.

Another interesting development and potential violation of the rules is the fact that the signs appear to be printed on the back of signs that once belonged to ... wait for it ... Dora Oaxaca.

Actually I don't need to use the word appear. I inspected the signs closely, they are printed on the back of Oaxaca signs.

This by itself doesn't indicate a collaboration between Oaxaca and Quintanilla, its entirely possible that this is the act of an over-zealous supporter. One who decided to go to the trouble and expense to get signs professionally made and printed.

At any rate, Quintanilla should be careful about ethical questions. As you can see, Perez has already sent out a mailer to voters about the fact that when asked if Quintanilla felt it was ethical to raffle away $20 bills to potential voters he replied "Yes".

The last thing Quintanilla needs at this point is more ethical questions raised during this campaign.

Is Chente the Key to Victory for Other Run-Off Candidates?

Conventional wisdom among the candidates still left standing for run off elections appears to say the Chente Quintanilla is the key to victory.

Why? Because other candidates lack the ability to mount a campaign in the valley, whether its an intimidation factor at play, lack of resources or due to the unfamiliarity of the area to people who don't visit the valley.

So the candidates try to set up alliances with Quintanilla in order to try to get out the vote for their campaign down in the valley.

Luckily for Quintanilla he has the time and money to lend a hand to the other local campaigns.

Personally I've never been much of a fan of that tactic because of a variety of reasons but one of the reasons is because you never can judge another candidate's popularity very accurately. The assumption that your supporters will support someone you support is a bit of a stretch.

Then there's the practical side. How much can one candidate really help another? Especially if their hands are full in a race of their own. But it looks like everyone from Constable candidates down in the valley to judicial candidates are seeking Quintanilla's help.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pete Gallego Campaign Comes to El Paso County

Pete Gallego, who is running for the 23rd Congressional District on the Democratic side made a stop in El Paso today. Gallego is facing former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez in a run-off election that is set to be settled on July 31st.

Gallego visited a food bank pantry in San Elizario this morning. Earlier this evening Gallego hosted a platica with local Latino farmers in Fabens and water rights was the big part of the conversation along with USDA socio-economic programs.

His El Paso County swing will continue on Friday with a breakfast fundraiser at Cotton-Eyed Joe's in Clint, Texas starting at 8:00am. Gallego is scheduled to speak at 8:30am and breakfast will be served at 9:00am. Sources in the campaign indicate that its a pretty informal event and voters will be able to speak with Gallego individually.

Gallego wraps up the El Paso County visit with a Vietnam Veteran's Appreciation Dinner event at Mamacita's in Clint. If you haven't ever been to Mamacita's, its directly across the street from the Cotton-Eyed Joe's. Its Clint, you can't miss it.

That event is from 5:00pm to 8:00pm. Apparently Gallego is buying dinner for all the vets that attend.

Speaking of farmers in the Valley, I'm a little surprised at the fact that most of the big farmers in the valley haven't dumped Canseco yet. Farmers are smart people and can do the math. The district is going to turn Democratic. You'd figure they'd hedge their bets and start looking to make some contributions to the Democratic candidates. The logical choice for them would probably be Gallego because of the fact that he's from west Texas and has appeal to Conservatives.

More on the visit later...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cervantes, I Meant Cervantes

In my previous piece I wrote Contreras instead of Cervantes. It was late and I was sleepy but it no excuse for the mistake. My bad.

When you reread the piece just imagine Cervantes where you see Contreras.

Props to the reader that brought it to my attention.

More later ...

Eastside Endorsements Editorial - Sour Apples

I'm a member of the Eastside Democrats and as you know I am a devout Democrat. So I get irritated with wanna be's.

Some of us actually work for the Party all the time, not just when we are running for office. That is why I am particularly irritated with Mike Cervantes. 

He started off his speech with a line about comparing "apples to apples". It sounded a whole lot more like sour apples. 

He stated his speech off by saying that he wants to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. He proceeded to say that she is a politician and he is a judicial candidate. This is where I started to get irritated. Guess what Mr. Cervantes, this is Texas. I know you have a lot of experience in Colorado, but in Texas...we elect judges. 

That makes all of you politicians. Like it or not, its exactly what you are. Please tell me you understand this basic concept if you are wanting to actually sit on a bench in this state.

But I took issue with more stuff he said. Contreras also said something about "not someone who conveniently shows up every once in a while at the courthouse."

That really irritated me. Let me explain why.

I'm sick of the fact that Anna Perez is getting a bum rap from Democratic organizations in town. You people should be ashamed of yourself. You'd rather look past the fact that someone is a good Democrat that contributes to the success of the party over petty factionalism.

And sour grapes...apples...whatever.

The point I'm making is that of all people on the ballot right now that should be talking about conveniently showing up every once in a while, its Contreras. 

Hey Contreras, I'm a Democrat all year long and every year. Not just if I was running for something. So lets compare apples to apples. Commissioner Perez has been a member of several organizations within the El Paso Democratic Party. And not just when she's running for something. 

Contreras...look in the mirror and tell me you can say the same thing. If you can, that vato in the mirror is lying to you because I've never seen you at a single damn Democratic Party event when you weren't running for something. 

Not one. 

What was that line about someone "who conveniently shows up every once in a while"? 

Perez is around at Party events when she's not running for office. Contreras is not. Period, point blank. Perez is one of the few Democratic elected officials that is supportive of the Party all the time. The rest float in and out depending on the election schedule. 

In the interest of disclosure, I've put up signs for Commissioner Perez. I've poll sat for her too. In fact, the last signs my father ever put up for a candidate were for Commissioner Perez. I did so because unlike most of you, I research candidates and felt she was the best one for the job. (Although she was running against Sarinana, so it was a clear choice.)

I get especially irritated at other people I consider "good Democrats" that are always hating on her. The perception among people, and some has-beens who think they know what the hell they are talking about when they are actually wrapped up in their own personal insane asylum of conspiracy theories they call a brain, run around saying she's a "Shapleighite". 

She's not. 

Her mentor, from what I can tell is Senator Jose Rodriguez. You know him right? The most popular Democrat in the County.

She cut her teeth working for Rodriquez, not Shapleigh. And what drives me more insane is the fact that of all the "progressives" out there, she is the ONLY one that is a regular and habitual part of the Democratic Party in town OTHER THAN Jose Rodriguez. 

You'd think Democratic clubs in town would appreciate the fact that someone is party of the Party even when they aren't running for something. 

So yes, I find the whole thing very irritating. Especially when it comes to endorsement time. If you haven't figured out what happens, let me lay it out for you. Candidates will buy a bunch of memberships in a club in order to flood the membership with their supporters to that they can win the endorsement. Perez doesn't do that. 

I especially took issue with the fact that Contreras implies that Perez will make decisions not on the law but "someone who will take into consideration your political affiliation." For someone who says he will make decisions based on facts and the law, I sure hope he has something to back that statement up with.

If he doesn't he runs the risk of sounding like just another...wait for it...politician. 


And now on to the County Commissioner Precinct 3 Race rant.

Its not really a rant, but more of an observation about what Chente said. Vince Perez spoke before Chente and as usual he went on offense. Quintanilla was force to go on the defensive and spent most of his time defending against what Vince Perez said during his speech. Perez went on the offensive about the pensions Quintanilla is receiving and the fact that the salary of a county commissioner is significantly higher than that of a State Rep. 

But two things stood out from Chente's remarks. One was the fact that he questioned why Vince Perez would take a paycut to leave Washington to come work in El Paso for less money. I think Chente meant that as a criticism, but its actually something people actually find quite appealing about Vince Perez. In fact, in Perez's remarks he actually said something about politicians being in it for the money. 

Chente's remarks actually make Vince look good. Chente himself made the point that Vince Perez is going to make less money than he was before in Washington if he is elected.

The other thing I found interesting was the fact that Chente mentioned that he only gets paid $600 per month for his work at the Texas legislature. While that is an accurate portrayal of what the state pays, it doesn't accurately reflect what they get in campaign contributions that they can use for all manner of things while they are in office. 

If I read his campaign finance reports properly, it looks like Chente spent more than $50,000 in food alone from campaign contributions. 

Most of that money comes from lobbyists.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Eastside Democrats Run-Off Endorsements

The following candidates received the endorsement of the Eastside Democrats.

Marcos Lizzaraga - 8th Court of Apeals
Laura Strathmann - 388th Judicial District Court
Jeremiah Haggerty - Constable Precinct No. 2
Javier Garcia - Constable Precinct No. 6
Vince Perez - County Commissioner Precinct #3
Anna Perez - 41st Judicial District

More Trouble in Socorro

As fate would have it, I was in Socorro today. I went to have lunch with a friend at the new Papaburger. When we walked in I saw Councilman Jesse Gandara and I said hello while she found a place for us to sit.

I went a spoke with him for a few minutes and he shared an upcoming project they were working on. I sat down with my friend and finished our meal and Councilman Gandara left with the guy he was eating lunch with.

I guess it was shortly after that time that the Socorro City Hall was raided. Watch to see what develops over the next couple of days. Its a bit surprising to me and the project that he shared with me was actually pretty ambitious. More to follow....

El Paso School Districts Need to Get Their Crap Together

Alright, enough is enough. El Paso school districts need to get their act together. I'm sick and tired of scandal of the week. And while I am at it, I am sick of the my-crap-don't-stink-I-don't-owe-you-an-apology-nor-explanation attitude as well.

In fact, that irritates me more than the cornucopia of mistakes that have been made. And yes, acknowledge the freakin' obvious, mistakes have been made. guys need to get your public relations house in order. Allow me to be blunt, outside of Canutillo ISD, the other PR people at school districts suck. EPISD and YISD are the best example of crappy public relations. I guarantee a major portion of the headaches that those two districts have had would not be happening if they had a pro running public relations.

Apparently EPISD doesn't have a main PR person but they have a department and someone is filling in. I think that position has been vacant for more than a year. YISD is in the process of hiring someone last I heard. And if I'm not mistaken, I think the person in charge of hiring the PR person is actually Martha Dominguez. I'm sure that just inspires all levels of confidence.

The point I'm trying to make is that these school districts shouldn't be complaining about the media coverage they get when they are contributing to their own downfall by not having a pro at the helm. For God sakes, hire someone that knows what the hell they are doing. When you have a crap storm of media coverage, shut people up, hunker down, and issue statements. Don't let live human beings in front of a microphone unsupervised. They are their worst enemies because they want to explain everything. And thats when they get in trouble.

Or worse, they do the opposite and refuse to be interviewed. Thats the case with YISD right now. The Times ran a story that shows that YISD tax payers are paying for the Superintendent's salary of more than $240,000 dollars a year, but also an additional $88,000 to date in penalties for hiring Dr. Zolkoski. If you recall, Zolkoski already had some negative public reaction to spending.

The El Paso Times story said that Zolkoski refused to be interviewed for the story. Thats bad. Really bad. Its almost as bad as saying "no comment". You know how says "now comment"? People who did something wrong. And I'm not alleging that he has done anything wrong, I'm just making the observation about the obvious.

So Zolkoski's refusal puts him, and YISD, in a negative position with the public. Such a bad move by the district. If a story is going to be written or broadcast anyway, you might as well get your side in.

The bottom line for taxpayers is the fact that until the article in the El Paso Times, I'm betting most voters had no idea they were paying more than $300,000 a year for that hire. That is the kind of stuff that pisses off voters.

Get it together school boards. Most of you are going to get voted out anyway, so you might as well try to do some good while you still have some time there. Hell, its what you were elected to do in the first place, so you owe it to us.

And we should stop settling for less than what we deserve.

Eastside Dems to Hold Run-Off Endorsements

The Eastside Democrats will hold an endorsement meeting for the run-off election on Monday night. The meeting will begin at 6:00pm and will be held at Muggs on the Eastside.

Each run-off candidate will be given 2 minutes to speak before the voting begins.

Xtra Needs Extra Time

Last night on ABC 7 Xtra with Darren Hunt was a great show. Hunt had City Reps Holguin and Ortega on the show and they talked about the new stadium.

The show could've gone on for an hour and it would've still been interesting. Too bad they show is only 30 minutes. Its a shame because it should really be an hour. There really is enough content in those shows to run a full hour.

There are plenty of phone calls, emails, and tweets and I really think that it would be good to have a full hour of that show. Especially with the absence of credible talk radio in El Paso Xtra would benefit from some extra time.

Its probably not going to happen, but as a fan of the show myself, I'd like to see it go an hour. Especially because you don't have any other local platform in town with any level of credibility that will examine both sides of an issue. Especially when you consider the fact that its television.

Not sure if the big shots at ABC 7 care what I think, but I'm betting it wouldn't be too difficult to sell spots for the time.

My Uncle Wins in US Supreme Court

Time to do a little braggin' on my family. My uncle was the principal litigant in a case heard before the United States Supreme Court and the Court sided with my Tio, Bernie Abeytia and against the state of Arizona.

The case involved protection of the National Voter Registration Act, which was enacted by Congress to prevent states from creating discriminatory voter registration schemes. The Supreme Court affirmed that the NVRA supersedes Arizona's bid to require additional documentation for voter registration.

This is a case that had a big impact on Arizona's Latino community.

So I'm proud of my tio. Another Abeytia sticking up for raza. Like I said, I come from good stock.

My tio was previously the Commander of the American GI Forum in Arizona. Its a Latino Veterans' organization.

My cousin and former State Representative in Arizona, John Loredo, posted a congratulatory note on Facebook about it. My tio sent out an email in which he stated, "I'm so glad I stood up for what was right. I wish my dad and brother were here to share this with them, they would be proud."

His dad was my grandfather Pedro Abeytia. His brother is my dad Benito Abeytia. As I've said before, my grandfather as a Marine and a Republican. He wasn't just a Marine, he was a Marine that fought in Iwo Jima. And he wasn't just a Republican, he was a Barry Goldwater Republican.

As you know he was an organizer for Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworker's Union. My dad, as I've said before, was even more liberal than I am and helped just about every Latino elected official that served in office during his adult lifetime get in to office by block walking and poll sitting. 

Politically polar opposites and yet when it came to issues affecting the Latino community my family is always on the right side of the issue. 

The day my dad died President Obama was in Phoenix. My uncle was selected to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and he went. Here's a picture and a little blurb that was written about it. 

I'm pretty confident when I say, yes tio Tata and my Dad would be very proud indeed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thumb Your Nose at the Republicans - Send a Ron Paul Delegate to the Convention

I normally don't meddle with the other side until the general. At which point, its war.

But I'm making an exception. I'd like you guys to help send a Ron Paul delegate from El Paso to the Republican National Convention. She's been pretty enterprising about how she's going about it and she even built a blog with a chart showing her progress.

I can think of no other way for people in the Democratic Party to have a little fun with Republican establishment than to help send a Ron Paul delegate to their convention.

Her name is Isabel Gonzalez. She's pretty motivated and came up the idea of fundraising to pay her way to the convention. I have a soft spot for the Ron Paul youth because they remind me of the Obama people from 4 years ago.

So here is the link to her blog. She has raised $230 of the expected $1500 in expenses. I'd love for her to get some donations from Democrats.