Friday, May 29, 2015
Leonard Morales announced his candidacy on social media recently. For the first time in quite a while Esparza will be taking on a viable challenger. Morales is much younger than Esparza and that isn't something Esparza has had to deal with previously.
Just a short couple years ago Esparza was said to be the heir-apparent to Congressman Reyes' job in DC. But after several high-profile cases that didn't go his way, Esparza is now going to have to fight off a major challenge in Leonard Morales.
So far, Morales is doing things right. He's starting early and if he can raise some money and implement an effective ground game then he's going to make things difficult for the District Attorney. Things will get especially interesting if an Hispanic female jumps into the race.
"I believe the people of El Paso want a District Attorney who is interested in justice...I believe its time for a new administration to breath life into the DA's office", Morales said in a social media post.
Morales indicated that Jaime Esparza has been the longest-serving District Attorney for the 34th Judicial District, an area that covers Texas' most-western counties. Morales said Esparza has been serving more than 20 years and that it was time for change, a message Esparza himself used in his bid for the office years ago.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
|Photo Courtesy of Rosy Zugasti - Univision 26|
Whenever someone isn't liked by someone else and a sentence is handed down, they say, "Oh, he got a slap on the wrist."
The reality is we have a justice system and the rules are in place as they are. The sentence was from the jury. If the jury, the same one that convicted him, said he has to get probation, then the judge has to give him probation. He can control the conditions of his probation and from what an attorney tells me he could make 180 days of jail a term of his probation. But that is pretty much it.
Gandara betrayed the trust of an entire community and for a time pretty much held another community hostage, and gets off with a night in jail.
But Gandara was a good candidate for probation. He had no priors. First time offenders routinely get probation. And the concept of probation doesn't mean someone is "off the hook". Probation sucks. The terms can vary from person to person and case to case. But trust me, its not fun.
His cousin Willie got a stiff sentence at least partially because he was an elected official. But that was a sentence handed down by a judge. Jesse was an elected official at the time of his crime as well but his sentence was handed down by a jury.
That is our system, however imperfect some may think it to be. The same system that made many happy when it produced a guilty verdict enraged others when it returned what they feel is a lenient sentence.
However, the community in Socorro and San Elizario feel like they were victimized twice. It has been an emotional roller coaster for those communities. They go from the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a conviction to the relief and joy they felt when the jury convicted Gandara of bribery. Only to end up a frustration and disbelief at the news of the sentence.
Many are only satisfied at a severe level of punishment. Bread and water in a dungeon. They say probation is a slap on the wrist. If he was sentenced to prison time and ended up in anything less than a 4x4 cell in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day they would say he got off easy.
Why do they feel that way? Because for years Jesse Gandara and some of his relatives victimized that community. The Gandara family have been in power in that small town for many years. In fact, there is still one member of the family on the city council.
The communities are understandably enraged at the sentence.
During the penalty phase of the trial, the prosecution didn't offer any witnesses. The defense offered several. The prosecution had witnesses there to testify, but just didn't. The result was the jury only heard one message and that message was from the defense about why they should be lenient.
So its not surprising they were lenient when that is the only message they got.
No amount of Monday-morning quarterbacking from non-lawyers is going to change anything or make the people of San Elizario or Socorro feel any better about the verdict today.
They feel let down by the system after being let down by the Gandaras.
But lets look at this a little more deeply. In my opinion, the guilty verdict was the punishment.
Jesse Gandara is about ego. That is the one thing you immediately learn about him within the first minute of speaking about the guy. He loves himself. He loves his ego. That is why he has the strut and always has that smug look on his face.
Remember the press conference he held on his front porch when he got arrested? That was all ego talking.
He went into the council meeting after he was arrested to resign and he arrived late. He did that on purpose. He strutted in late in order to show off. Then he resigned, but not really because he knew he'd still be in office as part of the Texas holdover clause.
Two times in the trial he wanted to testify. That was all ego. Most defense lawyers will not want their clients to testify. Gandara's ego compels him to do things like that. Both times he backed down. He hid from the media today after the sentencing, but his ego will tell him to make a statement. He can't help himself.
He thoroughly enjoyed running Socorro. More than anything in the world he liked being a "somebody", even if that was a city councilman in a small town. Seriously, the guy named a street after himself. Who does that? A guy with a serious fucking ego problem.
He has a Facebook page he runs anonymously and refers to himself in the third person as "El Teflon", a Spanish reference to the Teflon Don, John Gatti. He fancies himself a Don.
So the conviction was his punishment. He will have to wear a scarlet letter of "Felon" for the rest of his life. When you google his name it will always be a bunch of negative stuff. Whenever he tries to find a job, the felony will be an issue. He's going to be radio-active.
He has become a punchline in a really bad joke. He is no longer a "somebody" and is now going to be known as a bad guy. That is going to hit him where it hurts the most, his ego.
The normally smug and arrogant man who ran Socorro was replaced by the pudgier man who used the Bible and his family to try to gain some sympathy during his trial. His mother, his wife, and his oldest daughter all had to endure the shame and humiliation of the proceeding. That is punishment for life and I honestly felt sympathy for his family. And truthfully I must admit, I felt sympathy for him when his daughter was on the stand because I can't begin to imagine how little that must have made him feel inside as a father and as a man.
That hit him in the ego.
The guy that strutted into city council meetings and insulted members of the Socorro community was replaced by a guy who covered his face when his mom testified and couldn't even look in his wife's direction when she was on the stand trying to save him from jail time. And honestly, I have a ton of respect for his wife because she's the bread winner and has stood by her husband at a time when it was probably a lot easier to walk away.
But more than anything, Jesse Gandara's biggest punishment was losing. He was rejected at the ballot-box by his community. His plan to annex San Eli went down in flames. almost all his allies are gone and the one that is still there is coming around to being a pretty decent representative now that his influence is gone.
The strut was replaced with hanging his head in shame. That smug smile was replaced with crying. El Teflon was replaced by El Lloron. The guy who used to publicly mock people of Socorro will now do the same but will have to hide behind his keyboard on his anonymous Facebook page to do so.
Go to Facebook and look at the comments of any of the stories posted about the verdict and you will see the public's reaction to Jesse Gandara. The outrage is all over the county. I can't remember one person so universally reviled in this community, from Vinton to Tornillo. His lawyers argued that he was only charged with a crime because he's a Gandara, but judging by the comments, people think he only got a light sentence BECAUSE he's a Gandara.
And he earned all the things that are being said of him. He took advantage of communities that had limited resources but were far too trusting of him. There is a special place in hell for those that take advantage of the defenseless and a man that uses his position and influence to try to cheat people out of transparency and fairness is a let down to this community.
Elliot Shapleigh made several speeches in the valley during his time in office and often referred to the Gandara's as "the Kennedy's of the Valley". Perhaps Jesse's biggest punishment is that he, like his father, like his uncle, and like his cousin, have turned that reputation into a political punchline synonymous with corruption. Jesse, probably even more so than the rest, did more to tarnish the family name than even the Willie's.
Sadly the term "Gandara Politics" has within just a couple of years, became a pejorative term despised by the very community that they once ran.
Everyone lost today. No one should feel happy about what went down.
Leon was also a key vote in the expansion of healthcare through the UMC clinics.
Commissioner Leon also spearheaded training and policy changes among the Constables to get them all on the same page on a variety of issues, which was sorely needed.
Recently Commissioner Leon led a plan to install payment kiosks around the county which will help the County capture more revenue. The plan came about over the refusal of Justices of the Peace to accept payments that go the the court of other JP's. They have the ability to do so, they just don't want to. The kiosks will remove the JP's ego's from the equation and facilitate better flow of collections.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
|Screenshot from KINT 26 Story on Gandara Trial|
Gandara, who has taken to referring to himself in the third person as "El Teflon" in social media, arrived at the courthouse in a gray pin-stripped suit and he appears to have put on some weight since his series of arrests in 2013.
The case is being heard on the 10th floor by Judge Gonzalo Garcia or "GG" as he's known around the courthouse. The Judge runs a tight ship and use of electronic devices is prohibited in his courtroom so tweets, etc are not allowed while the court is in session so updates can only really happen during breaks so there isn't the immediacy of tweets as is the case in other trials.
You can follow my twitter feed for updates as I am able to make them. www.Twitter.com/TheLionStarBlog
The first day of testimony featured Gene and Sandra Licon, two members of a prominent family in San Elizario who recorded a conversation in a car ride with Jesse Gandara. In the conversation and on the tape, the state alleges there was an attempt by Mr. Gandara to bribe the Licon family into publicly supporting the annexation of San Elizario into Socorro.
Mr. Gandara's attorneys are from the Public Defender's Office and are David Contreras and Jeanette Diaz.
Most of the day's testimony was the prosecution walking the first two witnesses through various parts of the audio recording that took place during that car ride around Socorro in which the State alleges the bribe offer took place.
The Licon family is very prominent in the valley and they are known for their dairy, asadero cheese, and the attractions at the dairy. Gene Licon was the first to testify. Commonly known as "Boy" around San Eli and Socorro, Licon is a farmer and took over the family business right after he got out of high school. He's a very plain-spoken man with a cleanly-shaven head and wore a light blue shirt and slacks. He didn't appear to make eye contact with Mr. Gandara when he was testifying on the stand. After walking through various parts of the recording with the State, Gandara's attorney David Contreras began questioning Licon about the benefits of annexation into the City of Socorro. Contreras' strategy in the courtroom wasn't clear and there were several times in which he was interrupted by the Court and asked the relevance of certain questions.
During the playing of the audio clips Mr. Gandara appeared to shift in his seat quite a bit and shrug his shoulders.
But the day's most compelling testimony came from Boy's wife, Sandra Licon. Mrs. Licon took the stand wearing a conservative blue and white dress with her hair pulled back into a tight and very neat french braid.
Several times during her testimony Mrs. Licon became emotional when speaking about the alleged offer of a bribe. In contrast to her husband, Mrs. Licon appeared to try to look directly at Mr. Gandara during her testimony but Gandara's head remained down looking at a yellow note pad that attorneys give their clients to give them something to do during testimony.
At one point during the examination the prosecutor asked her about a portion of the audio in which her son Angel, who testifies tomorrow, confronts Gandara about the offer and telling him it sounds like a bribe. Sandra Licon cried when describing that moment because she said she was proud that her son said out loud what they were all thinking. "I'm not as brave as my son. I am ashamed of that now...you have to speak up when something feels wrong...say something right then."
She was cross examined by Jeanette Diaz, a young attorney from the Public Defender's Office that is representing Gandara. It was a pretty short cross examination and the State didn't feel it necessary to conduct re-direct.
The State alleges that Gandara offered the Licon family a $40,000 event paid for by the City of Socorro and $40,000 in advertising along with some additional access to water in exchange for the Licon family's public support of annexation. Gandara is also facing other state felonies and is facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The trial resumes Wednesday morning at 9am on the 10th floor of the El Paso County Courthouse.
A couple weeks back David K gave me a public lecture and scolding. I guess its my turn to return the favor. He really doesn't want Svarzbein to win for whatever reason. So The Juice has not taken his foot off the gas when it comes to the Svarzbein campaign finance reporting stuff and I think it irritates him that no one else seems to really care much about the issue. Here's why...its not illegal.
DK, time to take your medicine buddy. You are trying to allege corruption about something that is completely and totally legal. Sure its really silly that he filed that way, but its not illegal and you shouldn't be giving people the impression that it is. Unless you know that there is a specific crime being committed, in which case you have an obligation to report it to the authorities. DK also made a pretty serious allegation but never followed up on it. He alluded to Svarzbein's staff being paid directly by donors and not reporting it. Thats a serious allegation and if you've got the goods you should come forward with it. If not, I think you owe an apology.
Speaking of Svarzbein, two more tidbits. Both involve former opponents. Lets start with Daniel Lopez. His tone has changed pretty drastically following the election and it seems like he has every intention of running for office again so don't be surprised if you see his name pop up again. He's been pretty supportive of Al Weisenberger for the run-off. Interestingly he made one social media post that I found interesting. He predicted Svarzbein would win, somehow compared him to Luther Jones of all people, and then referred to Svarzbein as "a simple photographer". Kind of weird to see a class ware break out in a city rep campaign on the westside. even more strange to have a guy originally from the lower valley be the one involved in the class war and refer to someone's occupation as "simple".
Speaking of which, don't look now but early voting is just one week away.
Heard this one from a member of the media. Apparently on election night Rosa Cabrera (Arellano) didn't even attend her own election night event. That is pretty terrible considering there were lots of friends, family, supporters, and volunteers waiting at the Julio's restaurant to hear from her.
In Cabrera (Arellano) defense, she was defeated pretty solidly. But you should still go if for no other reason than to thank your supporters.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
You'd think due to recent headlines she'd be a little too busy to worry about what was written in a blog, but she is apparently on top of her game.
In an email sent out last Friday night to the membership of the Paso Del Norte Chapter and its officers, Ms Acosta (who referred to me as a "dear friend") instructed the Chair and Vice Chair to "correct" me and to inform me that "the Legacy made 3,500" dollars I assume.
She also asked when they were signing me up to be a member.
Well, I have said many times that I certainly don't want to be inaccurate whenever I state something as fact. I guess the term "flop" is subjective so perhaps I could've gone on to deliver a little more clarity on what I meant.
So let me apologize to Ms. Acosta for my error. I should not have said it was a "flop".
I should've said it was a "major flop".
Yeah, that would've been more accurate I think.
Ms. Acosta didn't have to go through the trouble of emailing everyone else to get a message to me, she could've sent it to me directly seeing as how I actually post my email address. But hey, I'll make it simpler for her and anyone else wanting to reach Yours Truly. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my cell phone is 915.694.5714. A sus ordenes.
But lets crunch some numbers. Word around the Tejano camp fire is that the alleged $3,500 raised for the Legacy Banquet is inaccurate. I was told by an officer that it is closer to $2,500. I think that last figure also accounts for a table and corsages that needed to be reimbursed.
Yes, your "dear friend" LionStar knows about Corsage-gate too... (seriously, you guys fight over some really dumb stuff)
A $2,500 profit from the main fundraiser of the once-mighty Tejanos certainly isn't stellar. Its actually not much more than what Mayela Mejia was able to help the Eastside Democrats raise in a flap-jack sale at Apple Bee's. Yeah, pankcakes at Apple Bee's raised almost as much as the Tejano's major annual fundraiser.
But I'm a fair guy, so lets just say for a moment that Acosta's figure is accurate (despite the fact that I think there may be an outstanding bill still floating around). In previous years that event has raised at least $10,000 for the club. More in an election year. For those of you keeping score at home, 2014 was in fact, an election year.
One of the previous programs was filled with a bunch of ads from judges, law firms, and candidates. So on a bad year the Tejanos made about $10k according to officers with the PDN Tejanos. But under Acosta it struggled to make 1/3 of that amount?
Yeah, pretty sure that is a flop.
And I haven't even mentioned the complaints from other members that she was difficult to work with, didn't acknowledge the officers at the event, and made sure things were kept between her and her click of support in the PDN Tejanos which from what I'm told is made up mostly of people she appoints to the Sheriff's Citizen Advisory Committee.
According to records with the Black El Paso Democrats, a MUCH smaller organization, they have never made less than $8,000 off of their annual fundraiser dinner and usually make closer to $12,000. Black El Paso and Tejanos both normally feature national-level speakers that they fly in for the banquets.
Acosta had the mayor and the sheriff.
Spaghetti and Enchilada dinner fundraisers for the Party usually make about $3,000.
The election is later this evening and she will likely be elected since I don't think anyone else actually wants to be a Vice Chair. Well, I guess they can start to focus on Flop Jacks. Oops, I mean Flap Jacks.
Oh, I almost forgot...when are they getting me to join...
I'm flattered at the invitation and would've joined sooner, but I didn't think I was old enough to be a member.
He's a regular Christopher Columbus, discovering stuff that was already there.
This time though, I think he might actually get in trouble with KFOX. I'll get to that in a minute.
Anywho, Fallas Paredes wrote a piece about the death of SGT James Brown and was critical of local media because only KFOX has covered the story.
This is the part where the discount bin of the blogosphere shows his stupidity. It took YEARS for KFOX to get a ruling from the Texas AG's Office on whether or not they could have the video. They are the only media outlet in town that actually has the video.
Which is why they are the only media outlet in town doing the story (so far).
Which is why I don't think they are going to be happy with the fact that the second-hand store blogger is posting the video second hand and even posting his logo on the video like its his.
Friday, May 22, 2015
Sources within the PDN Tejanos indicate that EPCC Trustee Belen Robles will be the one who nominates Holguin at the behest of City Rep Lily Limon.
Perez has been a member of the organization for several years. Holguin became a member last year.
Holguin has been on the phone calling members asking for their support. That drew a response from some of the membership that are concerned about Holguin being the head of the Tejanos. They quickly recruited a formibdible opponent for Holguin in their person of Barbara Perez.
The issue for the faction opposed to Holguin is his support and endorsement for Pickett even after recordings of ethnically charged statements have surfaced.
"We are trying to be a voice for the Hispanic community. I don't know how Eddie could've supported someone who puts immigrants in the same level as terrorists, but we can't advocate for our community with Eddie as our chair. We would be a joke and no one would take us seriously," stated one member who asked to remain anonymous.
The member is referring to the fact that Holguin endorsed district 6 challenger Mike Pickett for city council on campaign literature over City Rep Claudia Ordaz.
Pickett is a self-professed libertarian like Holguin's political mentor Jaime O. Perez. Ordaz is a Democrat that worked for both former Congressman Reyes and former Senator Elliot Shapeligh.
The election for the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats is next Tuesday.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
So rather than repeating myself on social media I thought I'd set the record straight for those of you that are really interested in understanding the roles each of the entities play. Although there is a group of people that are not at all interested in the process, they just want to deliberately spread misinformation, which is unfortunate because this is a serious issue and they'd rather score political points that deal with the real issue.
First thing to understand is simple. This isn't the county's fault and they had almost no role in this.
Because under the Texas Constitution counties are the weakest form of government.
And because the Commissioners Court does not appoint the board members of the Children's Hospital.
And because they only appoint members to the UMC Board and have no power to remove them or tell them what to do (which has been an issue for the county for quite some time).
The only member of commissioners court that was a) on the court at that time and b) publicly supportive of the Children's Hospital is Escobar. None of the other members of the court were there yet.
The board members at Children's Hospital are made up of their own membership. The county doesn't appoint those people.
That is probably why each member of the court was so publicly critical of what the Children's Hospital did because the CH was still allegedly negotiating a partnership with UMC and that was likely what they were hearing in their executive session briefings.
Now if you want to place "blame" on Escobar because she publicly supported the creation of the Children's Hospital, that is up to you. But then you have to blame yourself for everything someone you voted for does something you don't like too. Just because she supported the creation of the Children's Hospital doesn't mean she is responsible for what a different board does several years later when they have multiple options on the table.
That would be like blaming Hector Montes because Larry Medina pleaded guilty to public corruption charges. Hector Montes was once is campaign manager. By that logic you'd have to partially blame Montes. Does that make any sense? Of course not.
The way I look at it, the CH entered agreements with UMC. They stopped paying UMC a long time ago and began racking up a huge bill. Had you not paid your bills for that long you would've gotten kicked out, and the lights and water cut off.
If CH is disputing what they owe, why didn't they take it up with UMC a long time ago instead of just not paying them?
And by them, I mean us because UMC is a taxing entity.
Bottom line is this. The county doesn't have authority over the CH board. The county only appoints the members of the UMC board but they aren't obligated to listen to or cooperate with commissioner's court. UMC board members and CH board members are not elected and are not directly accountable to tax payers.
The CH voted in February to pursue bankruptcy and all the while was giving the indication to the court that they were negotiating with CH in good faith.
Except they really weren't.
The Public Works Department for the City of Socorro has done about 30 streets so far during this years paving plan.
One city rep, Sergio Cox, has pushed through two paving projects that directly benefit property he owns.
Generally the way the streets are prioritized for paving in the county and other municipalities is based on the wear and tear of the street and the amount of traffic on the street. The streets with more traffic and in poorer condition are allocated the funds as a priority.
For example, if you want a street paved that isn't paved, generally what happens is a traffic study is done. A sensor is placed in the ground for a period of time to establish how much traffic flows through a given area over a period of time. That data is collected and analyzed to determine the cost-benefit of investing public resources into a paving project. So obviously the streets with more traffic have a greater need for paving. The streets with very little traffic, well there just isn't the public need to pave an area that gets little traffic.
BTW, if you're wondering about the conditions of the major roads in Socorro, most of them are state roads and belong to TxDOT.
But incredibly, one road that was pushed by Sergio Cox has only TWO properties on the road. It is going to be paved and provided an outlet that was basically just a make shift dirt road outlet previously.
What is the public benefit of paving a road with only TWO properties that front the road? Why the necessity to push the project through? Because Sergio Cox is one of the two property owners on that street.
Fray Olguin is a road that has several properties on it that has absolutely no paving on it. Its a dirt road and all the other roads around it are paved and when it rains, that road is in terrible condition for the residents. The city is trying to acquire some right-of-way to pave it, but it underscores the fact that there is real need in that community, but a road with only two properties on it, one of which is owned by a council member, represents that not only are there misplaced priorities, but real institutional reform needs to take place in order to prevent that kind of crap.
I'll post maps and some very interesting email exchanges on all of this soon. But someone needs to be asking some questions on behalf of the community.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Barring someone drafting a candidate to run against him like Yolie Clay or Frank Ortiz, Eddie Holguin will likely be the next chair of the organization.
To make things more complicated, Chris Acosta is likely to be a Vice Chair. She turned their biggest fundraiser of the year into a money-loser for the organization. It was a huge flop.
Chris Acosta has been controversial in her role with several campaigns because she's closely tied to Sheriff Wiles. While working as one of his key staffers, Acosta was a figure in several campaigns including Oscar Leeser, Eddie Holguin, and Aliana Apodaca. Many were critical of the fact that she played that role in campaigns that were against some of Wiles' allies.
So rather than having leadership that would appeal to a wider base, the Tejanos are going to be stuck with leadership what appeals to a ever-smaller group of people that are the remnants of the old faction wars.
That is in no way a benefit to the Tejanos. Their club is literally ageing by the day. They have done absolutely zero to include or recruit newer and younger membership. They have become synonymous with controversy and in-fighting and this new likely leadership does nothing to improve that situation.
The reality is that the organizations within the Party that are the ones that are expanding and gaining credibility are the ones that are tied to geographic areas, not color. Black and brown dems' influence is being replaced by East and West Dems. Westside Dems is the organization in town that seems to be the most active and least drama-filled. That appears to be the new model for the Party, but it needs to be duplicated in other parts of town.
It is going to be a big political storm for El Paso and for the Sheriff. The video is already showing up on Fox News but it will likely be a national story very soon.
Nothing underscores the need for more investment in mental health services.
First, lets just rip off the band aid and be straight up about why this is going to be a big deal. It is yet another African American man that has died allegedly because of an incident with law enforcement.
He was active duty military. He was not arrested on a violent offense. He turned himself in to the SO's to do a weekend sentence.
For whatever reason, possibly having to do with PTSD, SGT James Brown, injured himself. An extraction team went in to remove him from his cell. The video shows the incident.
I'm not offering commentary on how the SO's proceeded. I don't know enough about the process to offer any commentary on that, so this post isn't me saying the SO's were right or wrong. I don't know if they were.
All I am saying is that this is going to be a story that catches on and will have El Paso in the headlines in a very negative way. It is going to be a pressure cooker for the Sheriff because of the circumstances of the incident.
Trust me on this one.
They screwed you and they apparently meant to all along.
Months ago the passed a resolution authorizing the pursuit of bankruptcy all the while negotiating with the UMC Board like they were going to have some kind of payment system worked out in the end. The bottom line is, they weren't negotiating in good faith.
When you think about it, why would the CH board even care? They aren't accountable to the tax payers because they are not elected by the people nor are they appointed by a governing body. The UMC board is also not directly accountable to the tax payers. They are appointed by the members of commissioners court, but once they are on the UMC board, they can basically do whatever the hell they want and really can't be removed.
So you have two entities who have zero direct accountability to the people who are playing with a ton of tax payer monopoly money.
And we are shocked by what they did?
The CH doesn't even list UMC as a creditor. They have them listed as someone to go into mediation with. Do you know what that means? It means that they want to pay less than what they owe, thats why they want to go into mediation. No one goes into mediation because they want to pay the full amount. The CH owes the tax payers a big chunk of money and rather than work out a system where they work more closely with UMC, and organization that at least has somewhat more accountability, in order for the tax payers to be made whole again, they want to go into mediation so that they can find a way to pay us less than what they owe us.
Forget all the legalese, that is essentially is what is going on here.
All so that they can stay "independent". Look at how well they are doing acting independently thus far...
Children's Hospital had other options. They are the bad guys here and if you don't understand that you not only haven't been paying attention but you probably don't understand the role of the three bodies involved here.
Now I know the other side of the coin is to say we never should've done this at all, "I knew it was going to fail", etc, etc. Maybe that is true, that really isn't the point. The point is that the CH board had other options and chose the option that screws the tax payers the most. They didn't negotiate in good faith.
However there doesn't seem to be a mechanism to hold them accountable for this course of action.
The peoples' voice in all of this is the County and they have little to almost no say-so in how this is going to play out at this point. This all appears to be in the hands of a judge and two un-elected bodies.
Interestingly the reaction from local elected officials that was outlined in the El Paso Times is actually pretty revealing. The state delegation all made very general statements that really didn't say much. Except State Rep Marquez who broke ranks from all the other elected officials and went so far as to say that CH had "very competent hands".
Obviously they are pretty angry at Children's. And you should be too.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
“Today’s reckless decision by the El Paso Children’s Hospital board is a slap in the face to all El Paso County taxpayers who have been financially supporting the children’s hospital for months by providing critical services to help keep the hospital open.
“Taxpayers (through UMC) were the largest financial supporters of the children’s hospital. Yet, the fact that the EPCH board did not even list UMC among those entities that are owed funds (in today's bankruptcy filing) further demonstrates their irresponsible disregard for the taxpayers of our community.”
More to come.
Monday, May 18, 2015
EL PASO, TX – County Commissioner Vince Perez and the Central Appraisal District will host a series of free seminars for the public together with representatives and mayors from El Paso, Horizon, Socorro, San Elizario, and Fabens.
Residents recently received their 2015 “Notice of Appraised Value” for their homes and other property, and have until June 1st to protest their appraised value if there is an error or if they believe (and have documentation or other material) to demonstrate that their property in valued incorrectly. Staff will also be onsite to accept written protests.
The seminars are free and open to the public and are intended to inform the public about their “Notice of Appraised Value” and to walk them through the process of protesting their valuation.
Rio Vista Community Center in Socorro (901 N. Rio Vista Rd. 79927) – co-hosted with Socorro Mayor Jesus Ruiz, San Elizario Mayor Maya Sanchez and Socorro Representative-at-large Rene Rodriguez
Saturday May 23, 2015 at 10 am
Horizon City Council Chambers (15001 Darrington Road, Horizon City) – co-hosted with Mayor Walter Miller
Tuesday May 26, 2015 at 7 pm
El Paso County Rogelio Sanchez Road and Bridge Building in Fabens (1331 N. Fabens 79838)
Thursday May 28, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Mission Valley Transfer Center
Bonart was the important endorsement because he's the candidate that had the most amount of support that didn't make the run-off. As a practical matter, the endorsements mean absolutely nothing because the race still goes down to turn-out.
But the two other candidates have also come out to support a candidate of their choice in the run-off.
Last-place candidate Daniel Lopez endorsed Al Weisenberger on social media. He gave a couple of reasons for supporting Weisenberger but interestingly one of them was "family values".
Manny Hinojosa says that he's supporting Svarzbein for the run-off and indicated that his primary reason for supporting Svarzbein was Weisenberger having a law practice and not being able to be a full-time representative for the District.
There has been no indication from Bertha Gallardo in terms of who, if anyone, she is supporting in the run-off.
Friday, May 15, 2015
Lets be real for a moment shall we? The Tejanos have suffered a credibility gap over the last few years mostly because of the antics of Blanche Darley. But at one point, the Tejanos were the flagship Democratic auxiliary in El Paso.
That seems like ancient history.
If Holguin runs for Tejanos it will likely not only kill any credibility the organization has left, but it will also further polarize the Democratic Party.
Pickett got trounced by City Rep Ordaz but he also made some ethnically-charged statements that had any white person from the westside made, Holguin would've been all over them about.
Here's a link to the piece I wrote about the statements and the audio is included. If Tejano membership goes nuclear about comments made by Don Williams that they didn't like, then they should be going nuclear over these as well.
The fact that Holguin not only condoned those remarks but sent out this campaign literature AFTER the remarks were made public really puts the Tejanos in a very bad position. What kind of credibility will the organization have speaking up for Latino issues when their own presumed-Chair has condoned these types of remarks about raza and then goes on to ENDORSE they guy, over a Latina, AFTER the remarks were made public? Tejanos will have zero credibility on Latino issues.
And lets not forget something else, Tejanos are a partisan organization. Holguin endorsed a libertarian (Mike Pickett). Now his defense will be that it is a non-partisan race. And he's right, its a non-partisan race. But lets talk about the spirit of the Democratic Party. He endorsed a white libertarian over a Latina Democrat who worked for former Congressman Reyes and former Senator Shapleigh. Do those sound like the actions of a "good Democrat" to you?
And lets not forget who is top political advisor has been for years...another libertarian Jaime O. Perez.
The Tejanos will take a major hit with credibility if Holguin is elected.
I assumed someone like Frank Ortiz would be next in line to lead the Tejanos. The Tejanos sent a letter of support for his candidacy for Tax Assessor Collector that highlighted a range of qualities that frankly (pun intended) would've made him a leader for Tejanos with some credibility.
Frank is a guy that has credibility with organizations outside of Tejanos. He's known among the elected officials and more would inclined to come back if Frank were at the helm than Holguin.
But I'm not a member of the Tejanos, for reasons exactly like this latest episode in their novela, so I don't have a vote. It will be interesting to watch this develop.
City Rep Lily Limon, who doesn't even represent the same area as Marty Reyes, took it upon herself to honor Reyes.
Pretty sure come campaign season someone is going to remind voters that Limon honored someone who not only fought against transparency in an era following public corruption, but blew $50,000 of tax payer money to do it.
And ultimately Reyes went out the same way things have been for the last few years she's been on the Board, with a dis to teachers.
The current majority, who will be saying bye-bye pretty soon as a result of the recent elections, prevented Trustee Shane Haggerty from putting an item on the agenda honoring teachers for Teacher Appreciation.
Leave it to that board to pull something like that.
As a result, Mr. Haggerty had to take the rather extreme step of having to actually speak during public comment in order address the issue and honor the teachers. I can't begin to tell you how terrible a message that sends the teachers.
But I know what you're thinking. There's no way it could've been that bad. LionStar must be exaggerating or making the whole thing up.
Well, lets go to the video shall we?...
Go to the 29:00 of the meeting and you will see Trustee Haggerty have to go down to the public microphone from his seat at the dais to address the board.
An obvious embarrassment to the teachers of Ysleta that the board didn't even allow an item to recognize them to even be put on the agenda.
Thankfully for the community the antics of this current board are coming to an end with the swearing in of a new board. The current board likes to immediately go into executive session following the honoring of students, etc. Its an obvious tactic meant to discourage public participation by basically forcing people to wait around all night before they are able to address the board on a given issue. They are the only elected body I know of that does something like that.
Quick side note: When a campaign wins, everyone wants to take credit and defeat is well, as the old saying goes, an orphan. If there is one real winner in the YISD races its clearly Arlinda Valencia and the Ysleta Teachers Association. They did the campaign work to elect a board that is TEACHER-FRIENDLY. No one else should be taking credit for their work to change the face of an otherwise dysfunctional board.
They have now multiplied their influence as the voice of the faculty and staff of the district.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
This is one of the most hypocritical things I've ever seen.
The very woman who made people in her shelter beg for cash in the streets has the nerve to say this:
The level of hypocrisy is off the charts.
Invites you to our Biking with Beto Town Hall
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Biking 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
Town Hall 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Downtown Artist and Farmers Market
117 Anthony St, El Paso, TX 79901
(Union Plaza Park)
The biking portion of the town hall is *optional*. If you will be biking, please be at the farmers market no later than 7:15 a.m. Please make sure to bring water, bike and safety gear if you will be biking.
*Note: There will be bicycle safety training, Tuesday May 12th 6:00 p.m.at Downtown Artist and Farmers Market
117 Anthony St, El Paso, TX 79901(Union Plaza Park). Please make sure to bring water, bike and safety gear.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Obviously the headline is that Niland defeated her opponent by a margin that was far less comfortable for her than she would've liked. I look at that District 8 race as our version of the Tea Party Revolution a couple years ago where even a clown in duckie pj's won a congressional seat. Josh Dagda wore this years duckie pj's.
Lets tell the truth though about that race. There's a couple former westsiders (that now live out of town) that are likely reading this and I hope they finally get it, there is nothing unique about running a campaign on the westside. Its not "different". Ground games matter. Why do you think Dagda and Svarzbein both did so well? Its also the reason that the other two incumbents trounced their opponents.
Okay, ground game is partially the reason Dagda did well. Its mostly because of the fire fighters. So a couple of his field guys should put down the joint and realize that if the fire fighters weren't on the ballot, Niland would've creamed him.
As much as the crazies are celebrating their "moral victory" (thats the only thing you can celebrate when you lose), the reality is Niland was ripe for the picking and you guys didn't get the job done. Had you been running an Hispanic female, or a had Dagda used his whole name, the result might have been different. And Westsiders might be thinking this morning, "Dear Lord did we really just elect a guy who can't run a hot dog stand?"
Niland held her seat despite taking the brunt of the anti-incumbent sentiment from well-financed fire fighters. She basically had zero ground game. And he was running around pretending to be pro-union while talking about cutting taxes at the same time. Which means jobs would be lost or salaries cut at the city, which is a decidedly un-union position to take but no one called him out on it. Including Yours Truly. I pretty much left the kid alone on policy. Mostly because he had none. If I were Niland I would've sent a piece of mail about how his economic position would've affected union members to everyone who belongs to the fire fighter union.
But the reality for Niland is, say good bye to running for mayor. Not gonna happen. I have a hard time calling someone who won, a loser but the reality is her mayoral aspirations are done. She needed a big showing in that race in order to have the momentum to run citywide. The money and support aren't going to be there for her to run for mayor so she should focus on her work for District 8 at this point. And she should prepare for the reality that in four years there will likely be a Latina challenger. (UPDATE: I'm an idiot. She's term limited and the elections are moving to even years. Carry on.)
Now lets get to the sprinkles.
Who Gets Sprinkles?
Josh Dagda. you get sprinkles my friend. You took advantage of every opportunity in this race and that is exactly what you are supposed to do. Remember that in two years when you take another stab at it and run against Haggerty for County Commish on the Westside. Props for doing so well despite being outspent big time. Be graceful in defeat.
Fire Fighters, you guys get sprinkles too. Spent way too much money on a race that had no opposition, but hell, better to be safe than sorry. For the first time in a long time a campaign was successful at driving people to the polls that never voted before. They screwed with a lot of campaigns projections as a result.
Peter Svarzbein gets sprinkles. No one took him seriously and everyone blew him off. Now he's in a run-off and Weisenberger is in trouble. When you see a run-off happen, the person with the top number of votes isn't always the favorite. The reality is neither candidate got a majority of the votes. The newbies all voted in early voting, which left the regular voters on the table for Election Day and Svarzbein closed the gap on Weisenberger which means that he had a more effective GOTV plan. Run-offs are all about GOTV. If he can make his mail pieces more about the message and less about being cutsie, he's going to win. He's going to walk and he's going to have an organized GOTV effort. Forma is gonna urge Weisenberger to "sweep the leg" as they like to say and I'd expect mail from both camps to sharpen greatly.
Mike Noe, that guy gets sprinkles too. He had a Latina female running against him and he handed out a trouncing as well. He probably would've been the headline had his neighbor to the south not put down the beating of a lifetime on Pickett. Both Ordaz and Noe benefited from having candidates that were ... uh ...eccentric. But Noe was facing a Latina that at least gave the impression that she had the capacity to raise some money. But just not savvy on policy. People have to stop running for office out of emotion. There's an intersection of timing and opportunity that people need to consider and Noe wiped out Cabrera (Arellano). B-T-Dubs...She's back to just Arellano already. I know, we all saw that coming.
Bonus sprinkles for Ordaz's team who are the MVP's for this election cycle. They implemented a ground strategy that not only shielded her from any anti-incumbency from the people coming out to support the fire fighters, but increased her margin of victory. She has the best messaging guy. She has the best field guy and hands down the best mail program as well. Limon is next door, she might want to start praying the rosary that she doesn't end up with an opponent or recall effort...
Bonus sprinkles also for Rookie of the Year goes to Alex Duran of Peter Svarzbein's campaign. Its one thing to be a field guy for a candidate with a lot of haters and take all the credit for what the fire fighters basically did for you, but its another thing to take a candidate who no one believed in to a run-off.
Upset of the Night Award is for Connie Woodruff and the Ysleta Teachers Association. They ran the table against the big fancy-schmancy consulting firm Forma Group. Woodruff, the incumbent, defeated a Latina female in the valley who had a 16-1 fundraising advantage over Woodruff. Paul Foster, Woody Hunt, Richard Castro, etc the list goes on. All those rich guys made it rain in that race and they got out-worked by some teachers who campaigned for Woodruff on their off time. Imagine if Dagda had those people running his field...But seriously, that is the biggest Forma Fail of the election cycle.
The Biggest Losers
Obviously the first people that come to mind are Hector Montes, Stephanie Townsend-Allala and Jaime O. Perez. None of their candidates won. Their message, even under the ideal circumstances for their candidates, still didn't resonate with voters.
It was an especially rough week from Townsend-Allala because she took a loss on Monday during Commissioner's Court as well with the passage of the Pre-Trial Office. He's an exchange between her and Commissioner Vince Perez.
The Kiss of Death Award goes to Eddie Holguin. Once again the former city rep backed a candidate that lost. At this point candidate should HOPE that Holguin doesn't endorse them. Its like making the cover of the next Madden game, always the kiss of death. For a candidate that says he's about the people and for a long time was one of the more high-profile Democrats in town, I can't understand why he backed a Libertarian, other than because his political Rasputin, JOP, is also a Libertarian. People in the Democratic Party need to seriously start asking Holguin the tough questions.
The Under-Performer Award goes to Bertha Gallardo's campaign team. Seriously, are you people kidding me? You have the only Hispanic female in the race (in El Paso) and still can't get her in a run-off? Jesus, what the hell? Her mail was awful and she didn't have much presence in the streets. I think as a candidate she had the goods. She was smart and likeable, other than a small meltdown over taking pictures at a televised debate. I think it was her team that failed her.
The Who Dun It Award goes to whoever was behind the push poll. It was a big time failure, but everyone still wants to know who was behind it.
Quick footnote: Two candidates that ran in the district 1 race did so with one arm tied behind their back. Daniel Lopez didn't take any money. It made it impossible for him to touch enough voters. He needed an experienced team and the right exposure. Money makes that happen. Nice guy and tons of policy knowledge. Manny Hinojosa, for as much as we disagree on policy, I like the guy. His politics just doesn't match this community. He shouldn't run anymore, but he shouldn't disengage entirely.