Monday, November 24, 2014

City Rep District 1 Has First Candidate

In what will no doubt include a kindergarten class size field of candidates, the race for district 1 city rep has its first candidate out of the gate.

Sources say artist and activist Peter Svarzbein has all but formally announced his candidacy. He is likely going to do so formally next month.

Given the time frame you can expect a lot of candidates to start announcing their bids soon as well.

Svarzbein is best known politically for his work with the downtown trolley concept. Its always to a candidate's advantage to be out of the gate early as long as there is an actual ground-game taking place. So if he is implementing that strategy then he can use the time to position himself as the candidate to beat. But time is always of the essence and if someone else gets in and starts campaigning then there isn't an advantage.

I stole this from his Vimeo account so you have some context relating to who he is.

Interview with Maria Garcia 5.16.2012 from peter svarzbein on Vimeo.

Valenti Doubles-Down

In what its probably the worst public relations disaster this side of Gary Larcenaire or the Council of Judges, UMC CEO Jim Valenti doubled-down on the bonus this weekend.

In an interview in the El Paso Times about the bonuses he and other top officers received, Valenti said if he had to do it again, he would and he would give more.

Is he trying to channel his inner Marie Antoinette? Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!


This is how you know it was a bad decision. When it first became public no one from UMC wanted a microphone in their face. No one wanted to talk. Everyone was "unavailable". 

That is a sign that it was a bad move but they didn't have a plan to deal with the fall-out. Huge mistake when it comes to information. You need to be captain of your own ship and determine your own destiny. 

Then UMC people get tracked down and the quotes get worse and worse. Its like watching the Keystone Cops. 

So UMC decides to hunker down and get a plan together of sorts. Only its a terrible plan. I guess they figured if they threw the clergy out there to defend them they would be portrayed in a better light. Yeah nice try.

A lot of us have nothing to fear from the Cathedral Mafia so shoving Brother Nick out in front doesn't help. It only make him look even less connected to the community because he's defending a bad idea that is a slap in the face to those that were let go.

Then there's ABC 7 Xtra.

So Xtra does a show about this and County Commissioner Vince Perez is on but no one from UMC goes on the show. Are you guys trying to make this worse?

Here's a little secret, if there's an Xtra being done about an issue, you damn sure better have someone go on and give your side of the story otherwise you are just going to get pummeled on. Have you learned nothing from the Council of Judges?

And speaking of Commissioners, I'm glad that they are stepping up to be vocal against the bonus. Ultimately they aren't running the show though and anyone that tells you they are is an idiot. They can't force anyone to quite (Perez called for a resignation and it was ignored), they can't dissolve the board, they can't make them not give Valenti the bonus and they can't make Valenti give it back or by a ton of gas cards and give them to employees as a bonus instead. 

They are powerless. 

And for those of you that thought the "progressives" were big Valenti supporters your silence speaks volumes. The biggest critics of this move have been Escobar and Perez. 

There's a reason that the soon-to-be-extinct board members are standing behind their man. They are doing so because of Valenti's talent. I don't mean as an administrator. I mean as a salesman. If you ever speak to Valenti you will see right away that he his one hell of a salesman. Oscar Leeser would be even richer if he had that guy slangin' Hyundais for him. 

Here's a guy who has led the charge in building more stuff when they should be focusing on being efficient. So clearly he's good at the sales pitch. He's sold the board on him. 

And no doubt during this crisis he's had multiple conversations with each board member to make sure they are all solidly behind him. 

All of them have reputations that are going to take a hit. Too bad that Valenti is the only one who's reputation is taking a hit but he's getting paid. The board is just having their reputation take a hit for free.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

El Paso Dem Party Chair Hospitalized

El Paso Democratic Party Chairman Glenn "Butch" Maya has been hospitalized at Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo, Texas.

The Chairman was returning from TDP meetings in Austin, Texas with State Democratic Executive Committeeman and woman Don Williams and Becky Bustamante.

A source indicates that he started feeling ill in Sonora, Texas during the return drive to El Paso. He was then rushed by ambulance to San Angelo.

"He is okay, but he did have a mild stroke. He is staying for a couple of days to run more tests." Said the source.

More details later...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

City Rep District 1 Race

City Rep District 1 is one of the seats that will be up for election in the next cycle that is coming up pretty quickly.

I've heard rumors of a few candidates including one that I believe is currently under indictment. Surprisingly that candidate is rumored to actually have support (for now).

I just need to dot a couple i's and cross a few t's but tomorrow I should have at least one name of a confirmed candidate for that post.

Stay tuned....

Beginning of the End of Valenti

If you haven't seen the interview on KVIA between Darren Hunt and Jim Valenti regarding his bonus, you should. Valenti comes across as a real villain.

He was asked directly if he will return the bonus and Valenti flat-out said no.

Darren Hunt confronted Valenti yesterday about bonus and if he should give it back after having to track him down:

Watch the video because it's not often that you see a guy instantly signal the end of his career on video. I think in the eyes of the public he has just become the next Gary Larcenaire. Valenti comes across as ambivalent about the employees that were let go and almost defiant towards the community about the bonus.

This is when his career meets up with public opinion and frayed relationships with commissioners. Mark my words, this will ultimately be the beginning of the end for Valenti.

The part that is really gonna reverberate in the community is the fact that he is so defiant about accepting and keeping the bonus. Sorry, but given the timing and series of events we've been through as a community it is unbelievable that he is taking that stand.

He now makes himself a popular target. Other than the Board, elected officials were the only ones giving him any air cover. Now he lost that. The only people left that has is back are the Board members and after this even, it's doubtful that any of them get reappointed.

Seriously Brother Nick, way to look out for the downtrodden by giving a guy who makes 1/2 a mil another $120k!

Before that KVIA interview there was still a way for Valenti to turn the ship around. Since the reason he was given the bonus according to the story from the board was because of customer satisfaction, he should've taken the amount of the bonus and divided by the number of employees for the hospital and given them all a small bonus before the holidays. That would've shown leadership, would've shown he was aware of public opinion, and would've been a small gesture that would have been I appreciated by staff that made the bonus happen in the first place.

Most of all it would've demonstrated just how sick he really is about having to give 56 employees pink slips.

Instead he doubles-down on stubborn.


Now remember I said there wasn't really anything that commissioners court could do about this? Well that point was underscored by Commissoner Perez yesterday. He called for the resignation of Tania Chozets appointment to the Hospital Board. It's really all that any commissioner can do and they don't have to listen. Today we read in the paper that his appointment stands by the decision of the Board and intends to finish out her term. Commissioners court is powerless to do anything about it right now. But good luck getting a budget approved by commissioners court next year that doesn't address this issue.

And frankly, let's put blame where it needs to be. The Board members are the most culpable for not doing anything at all to stop this. Let's stop acting like they don't have the power to act. They could've pushed through a resolution saying that while they are obligated to do so by the contract that Valenti isn't required to accept it. They could've moved to renegotiate his contract and taken out those bonuses or modified it in such a way that stipulates that in a budget year where there is any type of RIF that a bonus inst awarded. They have plenty of options. And of all the options they choose, the one the go with is to pull a Tammy Wynette and Stand By Their Man?

They failed the community.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Body Count at the County

When I'm wrong, I'm usually the first one to point it out and this is one of those times. Yesterday I wrote that if the Public Works Director was to be ousted at the County that it would be the third major loss of a department head.

My bad.

The body count is actually higher. Twice the amount I actually said if you count Piti Vasquez from purchasing.

I forgot Jim Fashing from the Domestic Relations Office and Peter Cooper from the IT department. Clara Hernandez recently retired from the Public Defenders Office as well. She was replaced by Jaime Gandara and with the exception of Gandara, all the new hires for the positions have one thing in common.

They are all from out of town.

Certainly as tax payers we deserve to have the very best talent available and we shouldn't feel bad about wanting the best talent we can get our hands on. Its the best use of tax-payer dollars.

But it is difficult to believe that we don't have local talent that can't be harvested as well. The process to replace the department heads is generally pretty transparent but its a disturbing trend. Especially when you consider that all the other department heads in county government are elected officials. So volatility in the ranks of the non-elected department heads is concerning.

All I know is that with a body count this high at the County there is something we could really use right about now.

A medical examiner.

Valenti's Bonus - Tone-deaf to the Community

UMC Jim Valenti's Comments at a Recent Press Conference
So the Hospital District Board has given a big fat bonus to Jim Valenti to the tune of $100,000. Incredibly this is a bones based on his performance!

This is the exact kind of action that undermines the confidence of the public in government.

Before I continue with my rant, let me make sure you all understand something very important. This is NOT the fault of Commissioner's Court. Those of you that are running around saying that should pay more attention because you sound silly. The Court appoints the members of the Hospital Board but once they are on the Board they basically do what they want and there really isn't anything the Court can do about it.

The Hospital District Board gave him the bonus. Commissioners Court doesn't have the ability to give a bonus even if they wanted to. If you want someone to blame, here is a link to the Board Members of the Hospital District.

Lets put this in context. This bonus is more than three times the annual salary of an El Pasoan. And that is just a bonus, that isn't counting is regular salary. According to an article in the El Paso Times in 2012, Valenti received $430,580 in base salary with a compensation package that actually totals over $600,000 a year when you count his health and life insurance, car and cellphone perks.

Employees recently got pink slips because apparently there was not enough money to go around. Belts needed to be tightened in order to make ends meet...allegedly. But somehow there was an extra $100,000 laying around and they dropped it on Valenti?

You've got to be kidding me.

Sure $100k can't pay the salaries of all those employees but it is a terrible visual. This is why the public doesn't trust the government.

But for the sake of being fair, lets look at this from the UMC side of the equation.

The Hospital Board's position is likely going to be one of praise for Valenti. They will likely say that Valenti is an effective administrator and one of the best in the country. They will point to facts like customer satisfaction. They will say that UMC has one of the highest rates of uninsured patients while maintaining a low rate of tax contribution from the tax payers. They will also say that there is government data that says customer satisfaction and quality of care rank among the highest in the state and better than the for-profits in town. UMC has maxed out on the Medicare reimbursements which maximizes the financial stability of the organization and alleviates the burden on tax payers.

Jim Valenti must be completely tone deaf to public opinion and the community he serves. He is going to be the biggest bad-guy in town if he accepts the bonus. As recently as September he presented a budget to commissioners court that included staff cuts and no merit-pay increases according to this article in the El Paso Times.

What kind of guy professes to be "sick about" layoffs of staff, presents a budget with no merit-pay increases and then takes a bonus that is three times the salary of the average El Pasoan?

The relationship between UMC and Texas Tech has basically fallen apart. Under Valenti's watch the Children's Hospital has racked up a debt of $70 million to UMC, taxes have gone up, and 56 employees got their pink slips.

He cannot in good conscience take that performance bonus after a year like that. Even if all the other areas of his performance were superlative.

Margaret Althoff-Olivas, who handles media for UMC, should know when a media tidal wave is about to hit. This is the kind of story that practically begs the media to write negative stories about the organization. If she doesn't then UMC should hire someone who does. A story like this at a time of year when people have to stretch to make ends meet because of the holidays positions the UMC as the proverbial bad guy twirling his mustache while he waits for a train to run over the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks.

Oh, and by the way, sweeps are coming up for the stations. Guess who would love to do a series of stories on an easy target like UMC and Valenti?

For us, the lowly taxpayers, it really sucks to be tied to the train tracks. Toot, toot. Here comes the train again...

Monday, November 17, 2014

County Public Works Director Agenda Item

There's an agenda item on today's meeting of Commissioner's Court about the Public Works Director. Its item B on the Executive Session portion of the meeting and in Regular Session its item 14.

They may do nothing, but its always a big deal when the Commissioners go into Executive Session about a department head. As you recall the county recently lost its Elections Administrator. If there is action on Ernie Carrizal, the current Public Works Direction it would be the 3rd major department head to leave the County this year.

Earlier this year the Human Services Director Rosemary Neil also left the County.

That is a lot of institutional knowledge being lost at the County through department heads and its difficult to calculate the cost to tax payers to recover. That being said I don't know any details on the Elections Administrator or Public Works Director situation that would indicate one way or another if the cost to replace that institutional knowledge is or is not warranted.

Either way, you can't ignore the big elephant in the room. If the County loses another department head its a big deal. Especially when you consider that the Public Works Director oversees all the construction projects, road projects, parks, and historical assets belonging to the County taxpayers.

NOTE: Its possible the County takes no pubic action on this item following Executive Session. Personnel matters are generally not public record.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Catholic Bishops Put Religious Right in a Bind

Well, the religious arm of the Republican Party, which is to say MOST of the Republican Party, is now in a bit of a pickle.

Catholic Bishops have come out in support of President Obama's apparent desire to use executive powers to act on immigration.

This is the part where the Republicans show their true colors. The GOP loves to spout the name of the Almighty when it comes to a woman's right to choose and the gays. Seriously, you can't shut them up. I hear more references to God during those debates than I do on most Sundays.

Clergy, not just Catholics by the way, across the country have called comprehensive immigration reform a religious and humanitarian imperative.

But you know what they don't say? They don't say stuff like "secure the border first". Security first is just the GOP's way of kicking the can down the road as long as they possibly can. They have no definition of what a secure border is and so they are starting from a premise that no one understands much less agrees upon.

Put simply, the "party of family values" can't be the ones that are going to be responsible for splitting up families.

Let us not forget, as we go into the Christmas season, that the Holy Family were immigrants.

The hypocrisy of the GOP is all over the place when it comes to the question of immigration. The GOP want to through money at the border to militarize it to the level of the Berlin Wall. Funny how when it comes to funding healthcare and education you can't just throw money at a problem to fix it. But you apparently can when it comes to the border.

The clergy want immigration reform for humanitarian reasons and to keep families together. Yet Republicans call themselves the party of family values.

Lets play this movie out to the end. We all know what we are going to see. We are going to see mobs of angry white people who can't spell with signs terrorizing poor immigrants, shouting at them with bullhorns, waving confederate flags and spitting on a Latino superstar that they think is just another greaser spic to them.

Then ironically our own son of an immigrant Ted Cruz will call it amnesty while simultaneously and ironically invoking the name of Ronald Reagan, (he was the last President to actually implement amnesty by the way) lead the charge to hold America hostage and use the budget, shut down the government, etc to play political football with the issue while he strokes himself before a presidential run that he's going to lose embarrassingly in the future.

Meanwhile, we will continue to have a broken immigration system. We will still have businesses that need workers and we will still have workers who are willing to do the jobs that "real Americans" won't do.

And lets be honest about that while we are talking about it. Immigrants aren't "taking our jobs". Stephen Colbert pretty much put that to rest a couple years ago.

Although when the GOP inevitably screws this up, I guess in a couple years when a lot of congressman find themselves out of work I guess they will say that immigrants took their jobs.

Thats okay, you can always call up the United Farmworkers Union. I'm sure they can hook you up with a nice seasonal job. But you better learn Spanish Ted Cruz, the free market of the fields pretty much demands that you habla.

After all, this is America.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Javier Chacon Resigns as Elections Administrator

Okay so I've been contacted by a lot of folks asking me what happened with Javier Chacon. I have a ton of respect for the guy and like him a lot so I'm going to tread lightly here.

Elections Administator position is no where as easy as a lot of people might think it is. Its a lot to juggle, you have to work with all the municipalities, water boards (except the super secret ones that handle their own elections) school boards, etc in the County.

You have an electorate who couldn't be more disinterested in the election process if they tried.

There are a ton of election requirements that have to be met to comply with the Texas constitution and federal law.

You have to field election judges for all the precincts and you have to referee the Parties.

In the last year alone he had to oversee a primary, a run-off, a special election, and then the November gubernatorial election. Durin the special election the last thing the poor staff wanted was a run-off because that would've been ANOTHER election they had to pull-off. The special election was a short-notice thing and Chacon managed to make it work without a hitch.

He was always available to media and took the time to explain the complexities of a lot of election scenarious that aren't your everyday problems like special elections, incorporations, and redistricting.

Now what everyone wants to know is what happened. The short answer is, I don't know. But use your Spidey senses. There was a meeting of the Election Committee tonight. Then he submitted a hand-written letter of resignation.

All signs point to he was asked to resign. I don't know why, but I'm told by a source that there was a vote taken to ask for his resignation and the vote was 3-1 in favor of asking for the resignation.

I attempted to reach Javier Chacon but he was unavailable for comment. I'm sure more info will come out soon. Stay tuned.

The Texas GOP; Now With More Crazy!

Just when you think the Texas GOP can't get any more crazy they somehow find a way to take it to a whole other level.

Texas State Senator Donna Campbell, (obviously a Republican) wants to give businesses the right to fire LGBT employees and not do business with LGBT customers.

Way to go GOP.

All the real problems facing Texas and you guys focus on this. As a Democrat, I thoroughly appreciate you all very quickly pointing out to voters exactly how wrong they were for voting for the GOP in such large numbers.

Texas Democratic Party...this is what we like to call an opportunity. This is the exact kind of fruitcake nutiness that we need to tie GOP candidates to. The Republicans do it all the time. Remember that thing I wrote the other day about not having a message? This is a perfect example of how to leverage one.

Now the best part of this is that Senator Campbell is calling this religious liberty, which is to say that she'd like the ability to discriminate against a class of people because of religous scripture. There was a time when people said that the Bible gave them license to discriminate against Jews and anyone dark-skinned. The dark-skinned passage that was used to justify discrimination in the old days is in Genesis.

Do you people still think the Bible gives you the greenlight to discriminate against dark-skinned people? Wait, don't aswer that. Many of you probably do!

Here's the problem with governing using religion. Number one, who gets to decide what religion is the one we use? Since I'm a minister, can I start some revenue generating initiatives or do I need to go through some kind of tribunal? And what about all the stuff in the bible about not planting crops next to one another, being able to have multiple wives, being able to have slaves, or not cutting your hair, is there a particular order we should do those in or can I pick and choose which ones I follow?

How does that work in your perfect little mega church?

This represents yet another example of the misplaced priorities of the Republican Party. They campaign on the economy and legislate on the bible. The classic bait-and-switch.

Its also completely unnecessary. Guess what, this is Texas. You don't need a reason to fire someone. So that part of the legilsation is stupid. The part about refusing LGBT customers is even more funny. Part of me actually agrees. If a business owner is that much of a pendejo to turn down money because of who the customer has sex with then by all means, who are we to get in the way of their stupidity? We should let social Darwinism take care of those idiots.

Although there is a flaw in their religious logic. (Yes I am aware I used religious and logic in the same sentence) If your religion is that concerned with who your customers sleep with (something Jesus never addresses in the bible except when it comes to adultery), then you might not want to pry too much into the sex lives of your congregation. You never know what skeleton you're going to find there.

Or is that the next step? Do you small government types want to start having people declare their sex acts? Cuz if you do this should be fun! It's like the next logical step for Republicans after the Papers Please laws of Arizona! (Oops I did it again, this time I used logic and Republican in the same sentence. Silly me, bad blogger!)

Gotta love the GOP in Texas. They want government so small it fits in a woman's vagina.

One more question?

Am I the only one that thinks she looks like a closet lesbian?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

So...What the Hell Happened Last Week?

Last week was brutal. No bones about it.

What everyone wants to know is what happened. Well lets break it down a little. I told you guys that we were going to get swept at the statewide races. I told you the math wasn't there.

But if you want to find someone to blame, and trust me after an election lost there's no shortage of blame, look to the TDP's complete lack of effective messaging. Sorry guys, but depending on the gringa being hot isn't going to get people to the polls in the numbers we need.

We needed an effective message against Abbott and Costello, or whatever the crazy guys name is. Its not like there wasn't an effective message ready to be leveraged. There was plenty to go after with both of them.

The TDP had the chance to define the opponents and they didn't. We had what we needed. We had the money, we had the candidates, we had the infrastructure and ground game in place. What the didn't have was an effective message. This was a brand election and we didn't do anything to try to reverse the tide.

The TDP's inaction in formulating an effective message handcuffed the local counties across the state.

I actually got a chance to look under the hood at the local effort, which I'm pretty religiously critical of, and I saw something that amazed me. They did what they should've done locally. Money was raised and spent effectively. It wasn't blown on consultants, pachangas, and other feel-good-do-nothing old school rallies. It was spent in the field where it belongs. Maybe they spent a little too much effort on the youth, but thats a common mistake and not one that was going to change the out-come.

The TDP sent out a ton of emails, so much so that I eventually unsubscribed and still kept getting them, that kept asking for money. But in the worlds biggest waste of electronic media, they never gave people a reason to vote against the other two. Now the emails are going out to party activist and people who donate to the party primarily. The kind of people that can organically spread a message about the opposition through conversations at bars, barbershops, the nail place, and church through casual conversation.

Not once did I hear a meaningful attack on how anti-immigrant the ticket was. You'd think at the very least in a border community that would be a central theme. Did we hear that? Nope, we just heard about Abbotts suegra being brown.

And that had a huge domino affect on the two local elections that were banking on at least a decent showing from the Democratic Party. Julio Diaz did everything necessary to win. Sure he had his vulnerabilities that I mentioned, but they were never really capitalized on.

Haggerty didn't do any block walking and perhaps made a feeble attempt at phone banking. But for most of the campaign season, he did the usual ineffective campaign stuff.

And he still crushed Diaz.

That's how you know it was a brand election. Haggerty didn't have the organization in place to effectively leverage a GOTV effort that was reflected on Election Day. I bet he didn't touch more than 20% of the people that turned out.

Julio's effort was so strong that I even looked passed something I had said long ago, that the math wasn't there for the PCT 4 seat yet. But the expectation of a better turnout because of Wendy Davis had us all a little intoxicated with our own party Kool-Aide.

Normally I'm critical of the local party. But the blue-hairs weren't running the show this go-around. There was no expensive yet ineffective circle-jerk rallies, and no consultants got rich off our effort. There was a methodical plan in place that was properly executed.

We just didn't have a message that would encourage our base to go out to vote and influence anyone in the middle to vote for our side.

Win some, lose some. But you suit-up for every game.  

A Soldier's Sacrifice

As we pause to remember veterans today, lets stop and really think about what service means, about how we have benefited and about what the word sacrifice means.

Lets start by speaking a little truth to power shall we? The truth is, not everyone who serves or has served in the military is a hero. Lets not forget that Lee Harvey Oswald was a Marine at one point.

The reality is that most people who serve in the military are neither great nor bad. They neither excel or are a screw up. In fact, most of the time you basically want to be nothing more than middle of the road. You don't want to stand out, you want to be part of the pack.

Keeps you from having to do KP or “post beautification”.

Most people who serve as basically unremarkable. Except that their service is by definition, pretty remarkable.

Not everyone joins the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines because they want to defend truth, justice, and the American way. We all had our reasons for joining. Some wanted to get away from home, some had parents who pressured them in to doing it because they were lacking direction and getting in to too much trouble, others want to travel and some for the GI Bill.

Me, well I joined for a combination of reasons. One of the big ones was that I had a young wife to support and she later became pregnant. I wanted a way to support my family and get some college money on the back end of my hitch. I was also raised in an almost fanatically patriotic family who instilled in me a strong sense of duty. I wanted to prove to my grandfather and my father that I was a man.

I know, its silly. Although when you're a young man filled with more testosterone than brains it seems like a perfectly rational reason.

But mostly it was the college money. I chose the Army because my wife liked the dress blues.

I, like many other people, didn't really fully appreciate exactly what it was that I was doing when I signed on the proverbial dotted line. I was signing up to make a sacrifice.

The drill sergeants in 2nd Platoon, Delta Company, 2/46th Infantry Battalion made it clear on day one why we were really there.

To kill or be killed.

It was a simple reality that was meant to shock us but that sentiment is the most basic truth any soldier, sailor, airman, or marine faces. And it isn't until that moment that the reality of what you signed up for actually hits you.

Sure, its in the back of your mind while you're watching that “Be All That You Can Be” commercial on TV, but you don't really understand it until some stranger with a funny southern or Puerto Rican accent is yelling at you while teaching you how to kill someone with your bare hands.

Its then and only then do you realize, I might not make it back home.

The next thing you think of is, what the hell did I do??

Hollywood, and now all too often the media, show us a lot about those that make the ultimate sacrifice. Those that die in service to their county have their sacrifice well-documented. As it should be.

And sadly there are people that are in leadership positions in this day and age, who have probably had peers that have gone to war in Iraq or Afghanistan, that not only don't appreciate the sacrifice, but actually think of veterans in the same context as welfare recipients. These people have the audacity to think of service people as losers with no other employment opportunities.

Sad and embarrassing, but true nonetheless.

What many don't understand is that every service member makes a sacrifice. Even if they are really in it for the college money, or because they don't have a lot of other employment options, they have to make sacrifices that civilians don't have to make. And since we have an all-volunteer Army, they willingly make the sacrifice.

Personally, I think of the men and women I served with, and some vatos (Omar, Jeromy, Marty, Roman, etc) from the neighborhood that served as well.

But mostly I think of real bad-asses on Veteran's Day like my grandfather and his brothers that all served in World War II. My grandfather wasn't just a Marine, he was an Iwo Jima Marine. And after World War II what did he do? 

He then served in Korea leaving behind a young family (my pop is the little boy pictured). I think of my tio Juan Acosta who earned the Bronze Star in Korea and was such a humble guy that I never knew he earned the medal until his funeral. I think of my Uncles Bernie, Johnny, Marvin, and Russell and my Aunt Rita (who was the highest-ranking Abeytia to ever serve) who all served in Vietnam. Uncle Bernie wears a Marine Corp shirt or hat nearly every day. He makes sure every veteran in the family passes gets the military honors they are due.

My primo Brian, and now even his daughter, are now serving. Thats the sacrifice I think of on Veteran's Day.

Services members often laugh at your whining about an 8-10 hour work day. When you complain about having to be “on your feet all day”, think about that MP who is a single mom thinking about her kids while she's directing traffic for convoys in Korea on a night-time training op.

When you're pissed because you can't get wifi to work at the office so that you can check your Facebook notifications, think about the soldiers that would've done anything to have a care package sent to them with a calling card so that they could hear their mom's voice on the phone for Mother's Day.

When you're complaining about having to sit next to your brother-in-law you can't stand at Thanksgiving in a few weeks, think about the Marine who can no longer stand at all because he was on patrol after leaving his FOB in Afghanistan and hit an IED that blew off his legs.

The summer when you turned 21 and went to Vegas? Think about the sailor who turned 21 directing the take-off of a fighter jet on a carrier somewhere in the Indian Ocean. That time you went snowboarding with your buddies in Ruidoso? Think about the veteran that had to fight off frost bite walking his post at the DMZ with a frozen hunk of 8 pounds of M-16 looking across at a North Korean counterpart that would like nothing better than to tag an American GI.

Or remember when you went dirt-biking out in Red Sands? Think about the soldiers that went to Somalia and ended up with sand in parts of their body they didn't know existed.

And while you're out buying that perfect gift for your bratty kid who doesn't listen and will either break or be bored with the gift two weeks after Christmas, think about all the moms and dads that wore a uniform who missed a Christmas or two with their bratty kids that don't listen.

Everyone who ever put on the uniform, even airman who annoyingly call each other by their first names, made a sacrifice that civilians can never fully understand. Veterans were willing to put themselves in harms way to serve their country while praying every day that they wouldn't have to.

Think about that while you're bitching about waiting in line for your douchey over-priced venti cup of Who-Gives-A-Crap at Starbucks.

God bless our veterans.

And God bless America.

Monday, November 10, 2014

More on Garza Departure from Gonzalez's Office

A reliable source indicates that long-time political advisor and staffer Roger Garza was offered a position managing the campaign of State Representative Mike Villareal in his bid to Mayor of San Antonio.

The source indicates the offer was "too good to refuse" for Garza and is part of the reason he departed Representative Mary Gonzalez's office.

Garza's services have been in-demand across Texas for quite some time and he's got a pretty successful track record in terms of campaigns and political consulting.

The source indicated that the departure was amicable and that Garza will still play somewhat of an advisory role in the interim.

Gonzalez' new Chief of Staff is former Senator Rodriguez staffer Corinne Chacon. She is the daughter of former County Judge and political pioneer Alicia Chacon.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Staffing Changes for Senator, Rep Gonzo

Corinne Chacon, one-time District Director and then Special Projects coordinator for Senator Rodriguez turned in her two-weeks notice on Friday according to a source familiar with the situation.

Chacon is now going to be the Chief of Staff for Representative Mary Gonzalez. That position was previously held by long-time Austin staffer Roger Garza.

Following the departure of his District Director in the summer, the Senator is rumored to be promoting Sito Negron to the District Director position.

With Commissioner-Elect Stout ready to take office in January, Rodriguez's communications department seems to be in need of a couple of staffers. With session starting soon getting those positions staffed will likely be a priority for the Senator.

Roger Garza did not respond to requests for comment.

No formal announcement has been made by either office but it was confirmed through a social media post.

Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Help Constable White's Family

Help out Constable White's family of you can. The Constables and Becky Bustamante have really done a great job but they still need your help. Here's part of an email that went out recently. 


It is an honor and a privilege that I have been asked by the Constables to handle any donations to help cover travel and stay expenses for Constable White’s immediate family. The Constables have donated considerably but still need assistance as there are many family members coming in from out of town.

So please open up your hearts and your wallets/purses and help Constable White’s family stay be a little easier on them. It has been a tremendous loss  to their family, please be generous.

All donations are very much appreciated. Please contact me on my cell 422-4115.


Rebeca Bustamante, State Democratic Executive Committeewoman, 29
Chair, Tejano Democrats Paso Del Norte
Chair, LULAC Council 4981

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Funeral Service Info for Constable White

Robert White.jpg
Visitation:  6:00 - 9:00 P.M.
Rosary Service:  7:00 P.M.
St. Stephen's Catholic Church
1700 George Dieter
Funeral Mass:  10:00 A.M.
St. Stephen's Catholic Church
1700 George Dieter
Burial Service following Mass
Evergreen Cemetery

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Haggerty Thumps Diaz

Well I got the two west side races wrong. 

Dead wrong.

I expected the low turnout to be a wild card, but I didn't expect it to break so heavy for the Republicans.

Commissioner-elect Haggerty looks to be cruising to victory tonight unless there's a major change in Election Day numbers, which isn't likely.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lozano Amazes with Terrible Social Media Ad

More proof that you can't Facebook your way to the winner's circle, today I give you the latest political ad from Alejandro Lozano, Libertarian candidate for HD 76.

When he ran for County Commissioner a few years back he flat-out copied Hillary Clinton's logo. Then he put of picture of her with him on his literature. 

This election cycle he not only continues to use the Hillary logo, but now he also uses a logo that looks like the logo from his old restaurant. 

And now the candidate who talks like Father Guido Sarducci but looks like a lost member of Los Tigres Del Norte has topped himself. 

He now compares himself to Batman.


Here's his latest ad on social media.

That's right, Lozano is rockin' the Batman head piece and the "Bat Signal" is the logo for the Libertarians.

If his goal was to entertain me, mission accomplished. If his goal was to win votes...#fail.

I can only hope that he wears it in public and talks with a raspy voice at Pavo Real "Voten Por Batman"

Now I know what you're thinking. This must be some terrible photoshop job done by Jaime to get attention.

No, you're thinking Martin Paredes. That shit head does stuff like that. Not me.

Election Predictions

Rather than give endorsements let me make a few predictions. You know the deal, just because I think an outcome might turn out a certain way doesn't mean I want it to or that I endorse anyone.

US Senator: Cornyn easily wins re-election. This is Texas, if they won't vote for a Latino, they aren't voting for Alameel.

US Congress District 16: Beto O'Rourke handily defeats Roen and Perez. The only question is whether or not Perez will break 3% of the vote. Roen will inherit all the angry white guy vote, but still will be a distant 2nd.

US Congress District 23: Gallego breaks the Gubernatorial year curse and pulls out a win. Its really hard for even insane Republicans to paint him as a flaming liberal because he isn't. The vato didn't get elected all those years in an area where Democrats don't particularly perform will in elections by accident. And when he does win, its going to be a sign that HD 23 is no longer in play for the Republicans.

Governor: Greg Abbott. I can't believe that guy is going to be our next governor. How many times do we have to elect people like him in Texas before we realize we are shooting our own foot? Democratic turnout is terrible and the TDP did a terrible job of messaging. They should've defined him on his hypocrisy relating to tort reform early and painted him into a corner. I voted for Wendy Davis.

Lt. Governor: Anyone who says there is going to be a split ticket apparently doesn't actually study elections. There will be no split ticket. Unbelievably Patrick will win. And then crazy will be on full display. I'm down with LVP and voted for her.

Republicans will sweep the other statewide offices. There's no reason to believe that any one particular Democrat will outperform the rest of the field. If David and LVP can't do it, no one else will either.

HD 76: Cesar Blanco. Seriously, anyone who thinks Lozano is going to get any significant amount of the vote is insane. The Times was right, he's completely unqualified for the position. Zero depth in terms of policy knowledge. He's a talking-points machine. What is incredible is that he was ever elected to office. Pretty scary that he was based on his qualifications.

HD 77: Marisa Marquez. I didn't even know she had an opponent until a couple weeks ago. But even he is smart enough not to run as a Republican. Marquez blows him out of the water anyway.

District Clerk / County Clerk: Both of these races are over in the Democratic Primary. Favela and Briones cruise to victory against unqualified opponents who know nothing of the offices they are seeking. But for funsies, lets pick who of the two opponents will have more of the vote. Richard Gonzalez, the Republican challenger for County Clerk will get significantly more votes than Manny Hinojosa, Libertarian candidate for District Clerk.

Now to the races that are actually close, County Commissioner Precinct 4 and JP 7.

Commissioner 4: Julio Diaz

Low voter turnout really makes it difficult to definitively say that either of the Democrats will pull off the upset. There are a million things that Julio Diaz should've been called out on. He's made this campaign about veterans issues when its not a county function. He (brilliantly) made that move to capitalize on his military service. He really holds that over the head Andrew Haggerty, the Republican opponent.

If his uncle Dan were still alive, Diaz would be stupid for making the election about veterans issues. Dan served in all branches of the military and probably would call out Julio for the fact that his service isn't active duty. He's a reservist, ROTC officer, with an HR job. As often as he posts pictures of himself in uniform you'd think the vato was Rambo himself, instead of the truth, which is Diaz is in a Public Affairs unit, not an Infantry Battalion. He's Chairborne, not Airborne. He's in the rear with the gear.

The county does little to nothing for veterans and essentially has no role in the issue. But veterans remember when you promise something, so Diaz better come out with something significant for them if he wins.

The fact that Diaz has a paperwork job in his reserve capacity is actually all the more reason why Haggerty's critique of Diaz's inability to comply with campaign finance reporting rules all the more credible. On the one hand Diaz touts his military service as an HR guy, but when called out for not having "attention to detail" as we used to say in the Army, his defense is that he's "not perfect" and its his "first time running for office". It was also the first time either his primary or general election opponents ran as well and they managed to get it right.

Pictures of Diaz with Republican Dee Margo at an Open House event at his office following his victory over State Rep Joe Moody have bothered a lot of Democrats within the Party and called into question his credentials as a Democrat. His campaign manager's experience has pretty much just been running campaigns in Mexico for PAN candidates. For those of you not familiar with Mexican politics, PAN is pretty much the GOP of Mexico. He's also published statements that include language that further undermines the confidence of Demo Party regulars like working hard regardless of party affiliations. Frankly those statements are harmless and I'd like to think all elected officials work that way, but nonetheless it bothers the Party blue hairs.

Diaz has a certain Hector H. Lopez quality about his campaign that you can't miss. He sounds like he thinks he's leading some sort of movement rather running for County Commissioner. He also has the large campaign staff with grandiose titles. Lots of flighty rhetoric but very light on actual substantive positions on issues.

Even with all those obvious vulnerabilities - even with low voter turn-out - and even though he's running against a Haggerty who wants to replace another Haggerty with nearly saint-like status on the Westside, I still think Julio Diaz pulls it off the upset.

Diaz has been a workhorse on the campaign trail. He's knocked on a lot of doors. He's darker and thinner than when he first started the campaign. Diaz did what you're supposed to do when you're in a campaign or street fight, he committed himself fully to the effort. That one-on-one connection is vital to ensuring the ability to over come the vulnerabilities he has a candidate. He benefited from the fact that he never really had to deal with a sharp attack or critique against his qualifications. Had either of his opponents done so, Diaz wouldn't be in the driver's seat right now. Barring some MAJOR development in the next couple of hours, Diaz wins.

And don't be mistaken, its actually a pretty major defeat for the Republicans if Diaz pulls it off. The Precinct 4 seat is really the only seat in the county left where Republicans have a meaningful influence on public policy. That will be gone soon unless the low voter turnout helps out Haggerty. There's no way Diaz should've been competitive in this race. He has a thick accent, he doesn't have deep roots in the community and he's open to critiques about his business and arrest records. He's Latino going against the most storied political family in El Paso. A Haggerty has represented constituents in the northeast and westside at every level of government except the federal level. A Haggerty has been a school board trustee, Justice of the Peace, Constable, City Rep, State Rep, and Constable. A Diaz victory means he overcame all of that to win - mostly through sheer will power. If he wins, it will mark the most significant win on Commissioner's Court since Anthony Cobos defeated Barbara Perez.

Justice of the Peace #7: Sergio Coronado

JP 7 is even harder to judge and could very well likely be even closer. But the fact that Sergio Coronado has a demonstrated base of support out on the westside is just one of the factor that will give him the edge. He also has pretty significant advantage in name ID since he ran for County Judge not too long ago.

Coronado still practices law and so he doesn't have as much time to devote to campaigning as Dickson who is retired.

The down-ballot races are always hard to call and recent JP and commissioner's court elections have been razor thin, so it wouldn't surprise me terribly if the Republicans held on to both seats. But for much the same reasons I think the Republicans will run the table on the statewide races, I think what happens to one Democrat on the westside will happen to the other.

Remember that less than 50 votes separated incumbent Sergio Lewis and challenger David Stout when Lewis was defeated by Stout earlier this year. Also in the Democratic Primary, Jesus Urenda made the run-off election by ONE vote. He went on to trounce the incumbent Barbara Perez in the run-off election.

Both westside seats are wide-open with no incumbent. Normally when the early voting numbers come in its a pretty good indicator of who is going to carry the night. Tomorrow night won't be that way. Neither of the westside races will be decided until the last votes are counted.

Its gonna be a long night on the westside.