Friday, August 28, 2015

What Happened to Balls?

Or ovaries. Whatever fits the situation.

I've noticed something I find kinda disturbing lately and its the increase amount of elected officials that won't comment.

Look if you're an elected official and under indictment then by all means protect yourself and keep your mouth shut.

But if you're an elected official and you don't want to give comment on a vote, position, or an agenda item you freaking posted in the first place, there is something wrong with you and the community should be suspicious of them.

In multiple media outlets, on multiple stories, several elected officials primarily at the city level have refused to give comment on stories. You're an elected official. You have a job to do. If you aren't willing to communicate with the public about a vote you took on their behalf, you have a problem.

And I don't just mean the whole I-gotta-go-talk-to-my-mommy thing.

I'm talking about not wanting to answer questions about issues before the city, county, or state.

Representative Ordaz went on Xtra the other night and Maria Garcia mentioned that multiple member of council didn't want to go on the show. She took a lot of tough questions not only from the host but from calls and tweets. I'm sure it wasn't a pleasant experience but she had the ovaries to show up and take the questions.

But council members that won't even respond to questions from media outlets on issues relating to their job is a terrible commentary on them as elected officials.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Medina Eyes State Tejano Chair

Othon Medina, member of the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats, is seeking the post as the state Tejano chairman this weekend at their convention.

Media has served on a variety of local boards and commissions and has a lot of clout in the local chapter of the organization. 

However, he has ruffled more than a few feathers statewide for his confrontational style and many find him difficult to deal with. He caused quite the scene at another convention.

Perhaps his biggest obstacle is the fact that he's vying for the job of being chair of the largest Latino-based Democratic auxiliary but has been very critical (publicly) of the first Latino state chairman of the TDP, Chairman Hinojosa.

One of Medina's rivals is a man named Joey Cardenas. He's a teacher in San Antonio.

Voting is complicated for the Tejano chair. It's based on chapter strength and so the more people your chapter has the more weight their votes will carry.

That explains why there has been such a big membership drive on theeir part of the PDN Tejanos.

Medina is also known for paying the tab from travel and lodging of supporters to the convention.

More to cover on this...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Svarzbein Spiraling; Video Confrontation Surfaces

Representative Svarzbein has been having a hard time getting is sea legs since being sworn in after he defeated Al Weisenberger in a run-off election earlier this year.

He seems to be so worried about saying something wrong that all of his public statements are a lesson in someone who talks but never says anything. And when he is actually saying something, he appears to be a gaffe-machine.

Case in point, yesterday. It was basically a bad day for Svarzbein. First there's an article in the paper about the budget and a tax increase.

Svarzbein along with Ordaz and Limón voted against increasing the tax rate. Ordaz said she voted against it because the tax increase was higher than it needed to be.

Svarzbein said this:

I did a face palm when I read that in the paper. He didn't have much time to review the budget in detail? Wasn't he participating in the budget process since oh I don't know, June???

He basically said he hasn't had time to do the most important part of his job.

But the day got worse for him. Apparently last night there was some sort of community meeting and a community member approached Svarzbein with a question about why he voted for the City Manager's raise and what he based it on.

The vote was done, and all the reps that voted for it are going to take heat for it. That is a given. But its all in how you deal with that heat. Svarzbein found the worst possible way to deal with the it.

The constituent, a man named Victor Santana-Melgoza, asked him the question and Svarzbein became defensive and dodged the question. Svarzbein told him he had to go and talk to his mother, then mentioned something about his father being ill and walked off. The Santana-Melgoza followed him. Svarzbein had actually gone to speak to a couple of other people. Santana-Melgoza asked him if the woman he was speaking to was his mother.

It wasn't.

So Santana-Melgoza took to Facebook and published the video.

Here's the text of his post:

And here is the video.

I don't think I have ever seen an elected official with worse public relation skills. Svarzbein really needs to find a seminar or conference or something on public relations and media management because he is really terrible at it.

It almost painful to watch.

Having been on the other side of the camera I can give all you electeds a little piece of advice. Stop and answer the questions. As long as the person behind the camera is asking you something issue-based or related to the job, there's no reason to avoid them. If they are just being a jerk, thats a whole other story.

The person asking you the question isn't going to look bad, you are. No elected official or candidate looks good running away from a camera. It never works out for them. Stand there, answer their question and wait for your staff to come and bail you out.

You're welcome everyone.

Council Moves Toward More Transparency

After the recent complications at council having to do with a range of issues the El Paso City Council has apparently decided to be responsive to the community.

Perhaps because of a rash of complaints having to do with the lack of a public discussion about City Manager Tommy Gonzalez's raise, it looks like council decided to take transparency in government to the next level.

Sources indicate city council ordered this display of Tommy Gonzalez's raise to be put on Piedras, again in the interest of being transparent.

Now that is responsive government.

Sources indicate the raise will be on display until it kicks in on September 1st and the city encourages people to take selfies with it.

Well played city council, well played.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Final Thoughts on the CM Raise

Sorry been busy and haven't been able to really sit down and put my thoughts down.

I'll try to make this one short and sweet.

No matter what strategic rhetoric is being put out there, the community is not happy with the city manager's raise. Members of council can stare in the morning for hours and tell themselves that the community supports it but they don't. Just check any social media comment section of basically any story that was run on the topic.

But speaking of public sentiment, the people that spoke in favor of the city manager's raise yesterday were largely staged. There's nothing wrong with that, but lets not pretend it wasn't. The city council offices were getting bombarded with phone calls and emails against the raise and they wanted to give the media an impression that there was wide support for the raise.

There isn't.

Again, there's nothing wrong with that and Ordaz and Limón probably should've done the same thing. But hey, I give credit where credit is due and I know what its like to be a former staffer. So well done Dora.

Rep Niland had a multi-page script she treaded through that was based on the premise that Ordaz was going to make this about Gonzalez' performance on the job. Ordaz framed the debate around the process, not the person.

Personally, I think with so many projects that are behind schedule, over-budget, bad communication, lost opportunities for funding, that the community is sort of ahead of council on this one. I think a large part of the opposition is based on their perception of his job performance. Although some think you're stupid and that the opposition is based on the lobster mentality. You know, the one that says Mexicans are stupid and would rather pull one lobster getting out of the pot than see them succeed.

It also amazes me that people who spend 90% of their time bashing a town they don't even live in all of a sudden give a shit about how El Paso looks to other cities.

Me thinks thou dost pro- ah fuck it, I think they're full of shit.

This was a sneaky move to try to get this one through with the minimal amount of attention possible.

That is why there was such vague wording on the original item. And then there's the whole market study issue.

There wasn't one done and Limón busted them on it. City Reps Acosta and Romero tried to say that they called other cities and asked what their city managers made. They looked silly when you consider that is not what a market study is. That is not even close to a market study. There are so many other factors to consider like size of budget, number of employees, projects, etc.

But its the level of quality that has become synonymous with the city lately.

The point is City Attorney Firth was directly asked if a market study was done and incredibly she said that what was done by council constituted a market analysis. Until Limón had a little bit of a Did-You-Order-The-Code-Red moment when she put Romero on the spot and asked him directly if the City of El Paso had done a market analysis for salary.

He admitted that city had not.

The last point I want to make here is about the fact that Ordaz even put this back on the agenda in the first place.

A few, but loud critics, have said that her desire to revisit the issue meant everything from she is a dumb brunette to the second coming of John Kerry. Hell some have even written her political obituary.

Puro pedo!

Politics is the only arena in which people find for some strange reason that it is acceptable to make a mistake and stick to that mistake even when you know its the wrong course of action. I don't know who the genius is that came up with that steaming pile of stupid, but whoever it was is an idiot.

In basically any other scenario if you made a mistake and stuck with the mistake even when you knew it was a mistake, people would say you're either stupid, crazy, or a total asshole.

In business - if you made a mistake you'd fix it as soon as you found out about it. In the classroom, if a teacher's class all failed the same test, then that would mean that something had to be done differently. If your kid is drowning in the bathtub you don't just sit there and watch just because they slipped on their own. In your relationship, if you or they, aren't happy you do something about it.

But what you don't do is stick with a dumb ass idea because you don't want to be seen as a flip-flopper. And most of the community doesn't look at it as a bad thing either.

It takes a hell of a lot more integrity to publicly admit you made a mistake than to privately know you did and publicly stand by it for the sake of not flip-flopping. The public appreciates when someone takes responsibility rather than try to save their own ass.

As for her political career being over, remember that everything comes down to elections. So threatening that her funding will be cut-off is silly. You know what big donors fear the worst?

A candidate that can win without their money.

I also found it interesting when Rep Svarzbein talked about doing what he campaigned on, which was absent just a couple weeks ago during the historical study for downtown debate.

Gotta love politicians.

By the way, most of the same members that voted for the City Manager's raise also voted in favor of the budget he submitted to council that called for a raise in your taxes.

Tidbit About Acosta Comment

I've got plenty to say about yesterday's city council meeting about how city council doubled-down on stupid and voted for the city manager raise.

All you have to do is take a look at the comment section of any of the stories from media outlets about it on Facebook and you will see that the community is overwhelmingly upset about it, which makes yesterday's little staged event during public comment that much more obvious.

Some of the people are getting creative about it too. Here's a screen shot I took of one of the comments:

When the Straight Outta Compton meme is being used for politics, it means the meme has officially jumped the shark. (Note to self, change profile picture from Straight Otta Compton meme on Facebook)

But I wanted to clarify something that Acosta said during the meeting that I think crystalizes what people don't like about council lately. Its the lack of accurate information.

Either deliberately or through incompetence.

Here's what I mean. During the debate yesterday City Rep Emma Acosta mentioned that she had a community meeting shortly after the raise and that at the meeting only three people spoke in opposition to the raise. She then chided the media by saying that they didn't run comments in favor of the raise by the over 40 people in attendance. (More on that in a minute)

So to hear her tell it, almost everyone was in favor of it, save three people.

Except that's not what really happened at all.

I know because several people had asked me about the meeting during the day and I know they attended the meeting. I wasn't there because I was in the Ysleta Bond Committee meeting which Acosta missed because of her community meeting, but I was checking in with them to see how it was going.

I'm kicking myself for not going and taking my video camera, but thankfully someone recorded the audio of the meeting.

Since I'd heard the meeting, I was surprised to hear Acosta tell her version of the story. But I didn't have the audio with me yesterday during the meeting and didn't have my laptop either since I was working in the field. Thankfully you can stream the meetings over your phone, so thats how I even caught Acosta's comments in the first place.

When I heard her version, I sent a text to a friend of mine that was at the meeting to verify since I remembered the audio differently. Basically the messages speak for themselves. Acosta's account at council wasn't accurate. You decide whether it was an honest mistake or purposely misleading:

Now remember I mentioned I would get back to the part about her criticizing the media about the people she mentioned that were there at the meeting that were allegedly in favor of the raise?

The people she mentions in the video from yesterday's meeting are all either her friends or donors to her campaign.

She failed to mention that part.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Favorite Press Release

Sorry vatos and jainas, been a busy couple days at the office and haven't had much chance to blog. 

But here's a quick one that made me laugh. It was unintentionally funny. Which makes it funnier.

City Rep Svarzbein sent out a press release to the media yesterday and a couple of them sent it to me because they thought it was funny. 

Electeds usually send out press releases about a lot of things, especially important events or issues facing the city.

So in the midst of questions about transportation and mobility funding, a big pay raise for the city manager, privatizing an entire city department, projects that are over budget and behind...

What does Rep Svarzbein send a press release about? What is the big issue of the day his office is tackling on behalf of the fine folks on the west side?

The Archie Comic. Well the passing of the author.

I bullshit you not.

Gotta love the focus on what really matters, Jughead and Veronica!

Good to know he never stops thinking about his, constituents.

Bernal Fundraiser

I haven't even heard of a rumor of an opponent. I doubt she will have one either. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

HD 77 Candidate Lopez Throws Fundraiser

Anyone thinking about running for the HD77 race better start soon because the ball is already being moved down the field.

Adolfo Lopez, a Dallas-area attorney until recently, is throwing a fundraiser soon. Here are the particulars. 

The only other candidate Lina Ortega, hasn't had a formal announcement or fundraiser yet.

A Reasonable Post on City Manager Raise

Rich Wright to the time to be reasonable in his blog post here. I may not agree with all of it, but at least his his reasoning isn't "because I'm tone deaf to reality" like other bloggers.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Poll: Ordaz Agenda Item to Reconsider Raise

Okay, take the new poll. Its on the left side where they usually are.

What do you think about Ordaz putting an item on the agenda to reconsider the city manager's raise?


Breaking: Ordaz Places Item to Revisit Raise

Not many details yet, but there is a buzz around City Hall right now that City Rep Claudia Ordaz has placed an item on the agenda to discuss the raise for Tommy Gonzalez.

I haven't seen the item but I was able to confirm that it has been filed, so I don't know what the exact language is but I'm told it is essentially bringing the item back to council.

More to follow.

Rep Limón Sends Letter to Engineering Staff; All Employees

City Rep Lily Limón sent a letter to the staff of the engineering department and all city staff.

The letter is in regards to the fact that she, along with most staff, found out that the City of El Paso was going to outsource work from the engineering department in an article published Sunday in the El Paso, Inc.

I will have more on this later.

In the mean time, here is the letter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Odds & Ends

Rebeca Bustamante was appointed to the City Planning Commission by Representative Noe. That is probably the best decision he's made in the last few weeks.

Good for him, Bustamante is a good lawyer and a prominent member of the El Paso Democratic Party. 

Bustamante is the immediate past chair of the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats and is also the State Democratic Executive Committee Woman. I think she is the only person in the El Paso County Democratic Party to be a member of every party auxiliary. 

Bustamante is an immigration attorney in private practice and has been in practice for several years. 


Rep Romero, who is normally pretty quiet and I have previously referred to him as the Clarence Thomas of city council, picked the wrong issue to take the lead on. 

I think he has seriously jeopardized his re-election campaign. If he thinks its still a long time till he has to answer to voters, that is wishful thinking. They aren't likely to forget this one and the whole issue makes a very nice negative mailer. That piece writes itself.

Congratulations, you and the city manager have managed to become more unpopular than Jim Valenti and Gary Larcenaire. 


Rosales has a fundraiser. A week or two ago Yvonne Rosales announced her candidacy for District Attorney. Leonard Morales has also announced his candidacy and had a fundraiser the same evening. It will be some time before we get an idea of how much either candidate raised because the next reporting period isn't until January. Until then, the only way to judge how their money is being spent is by what we can visibly see. 

Beto on the border. I guess this is what it feels like to white people when we speak Spanish in front of them. I just don't understand. 

What is the big deal about a 10k between Juarez and El Paso? I'm sort of the opinion of " who gives a shit?" and I'm seriously trying to understand why it matters but I'm just not getting it. 

But I'll tell you what I do get... Beto's hat! The hat is a subtle "Fuck you, Donald Trump!" and its pure genius. That is why Beto is cooler than all of us. 

Donald Trump has been rocking a crappy 80's looking hat while he makes his little forays to border communities during his presidential big that says something about making America great again. 

Well played Beto, well played.

Romero's Reply

Representative Larry Romero was better off leaving well-enough alone. But instead he sent a response to the El Paso Times editorial from Sunday because he let his emotions get the better of him.

Yet again some members of council demonstrate a lack of media savvy.

When you win on an issue that is so widely disliked, that is when you keep quiet and move on to something else. Instead Romero decides to pick at the scab because he feels the need to defend himself against the critique laid out by the editorial board.

It was a fair critique to begin with. There are probably any number of policies and votes enacted upon by council that the paper either agrees or disagrees with. Its not like they comment on everything. So when they take a strong position on an issue, several days after the vote, its because they have take time to thoroughly analyze and digest the issue.

I don't always agree with their editorial stance but its never knee-jerk. Truth be told, I usually agree with their editorial stance.

Romero wasn't wise about responding to the Times the way he did. He should've taken more time and been more thoughtful about his response. Again, when you've won, shut up and move on to something else. But if you are going to respond, at the very least your response should do no harm to your argument. Romero actually succeeded in getting a couple people I know, one very close to me in fact, who were pretty apathetic about the raise, to be pretty furious about the raise in 0-60.

Let me rip the band-aide off of something everyone seems to be tip-toeing around.

I think we are being lied to.

One need only look at the language of the item to know that something was up. It was purposely ambiguous. That is what people do when they are trying to hide something.

Then we hear words that don't jive with actions.

We hear that Tommy didn't want the raise.

Yet council is trying to ram this one down everyone's throats. What is this false sense of urgency if he didn't ask for the raise? That means that he is happy with his pay.

But somehow there is this rhetoric that we have to give him this huge-ass raise so that he doesn't leave and go somewhere else. If he didn't ask for it, we aren't in any danger of losing him, right?

I think people should stop beating their chests and acting like they are smarter than the rest of us in saying we don't know how business runs. The reality is that the only business in which you can have marginal performance one year and get a big fat ass raise is the NFL and if you're the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.

If Tommy Boy didn't want to come here, he shouldn't have. No one forced him. He took a major pay cut to come here. There had to have been a reason that he did that, but lets remember we didn't steal him from another city. He was in the private sector where he could've made the big Tony Romo dollars if he was all that great.

He signed a deal at the salary he agreed to with the raise schedule he agreed to. He allegedly didn't ask for the raise.

If we aren't being lied to, then there is no reason to give him a raise.

Its not our fault he took the deal that he took. No one forced him to sign it. No one was putting a gun to his head. He made a choice. Why the hell should we have to pay for a choice he didn't really want to make?

All this for a guy that doesn't seem to be all that high on Team El Paso? News reports say the wife wants to bounce. He allegedly can be snatched away in a heartbeat.

Where's the loyalty?

Say what you want about Wilson, she didn't cost this much and guess what, she still lives here.

Oh, and one more thing.

Mayor Lesser...GROW A PAIR!

If you're really against the raise, and lets be real - the reason the offer to Tommy was the offer that it was is because Mayor Leeser didn't want to pay him more than Wilson - then you should've used the one tool you had that no one else has the ability to use...the mutha effin' veto!

Worst case scenario, council has to double-down on the raise, but it slows everything down and gives the public the chance to weigh-in. The more likely scenario is that one or more of the city reps have an opportunity to fully digest the issue and be responsive to the community and there aren't the votes to override the veto. Then council can work out some sort of compromise that doesn't look like something that is twice the average annual salary.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Editorial Board on Point - Tommy's Pickle

Sunday's editorial about the whole raise for the City Manager was on point.

If they Mayor was really as opposed to it as he says he was, he should have vetoed the raise and forced the city council to try to override it. Frankly I don't think city council is stupid enough to make the same mistake twice.

The editorial board made an excellent point about how moves like this raise make people cynical about politics.

And while I'm at it, let me address this ridiculous claim that there is some sense of urgency to keep Tommy Gonzalez. The reality is he's good.

But he's not that damn good.

Put down the pom-poms for a while. He saved us money?

Okay, IF that is true - guess what...that's what he was HIRED to do. Its his job to make the city run efficiently. It kills me that the Business Block on council (Niland, Noe, & Romero) were the ones pushing this issue when there is no indication that any of them would advocate a 25% raise for their own employees for just doing their job.

If thats the case, start handing out 25% raises to all their employees. And lets stop acting like the City Manager is some poor persecuted employee who is treated unfairly. The CM is a contract employee. His contract should be a public matter to the extent possible.

The thing about city government is that the more you know, the more it infuriates you. Sometimes I see and hear things that I don't even write about. It just makes me shake my head because its so sad/infuriating.

One last thing on the city manager, this urgency is completely fabricated. Its fabricated deliberately to  justify the expenditure. Its the ultimate spin.

Play this movie out to the end. If Tommy boy somehow didn't get his raise, what's he gonna do? Hold this community hostage? If he decided to pick up and leave every future employer would know that he decided to pick up, take his ball and go home. He would damage his employability in a big way by taking off to another town just because the town he had a deal with wouldn't give him a 25% raise in a little over a year for marginal savings.

(By the way fans of The Rugrats, see what I did there?)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hector H. Lopez OUT of HD 77

I guess its probably more accurate to say he was never in but the former mayoral candidate and former political talk show host has indicated that he will not be seeking the Democratic nomination for HD 77.

Here is a brief recording of his comments on the issue earlier today.

Marquez Announcement Coming Soon

The questions that have been swirling around the surprise retirement from the House of Representatives by State Rep Marisa Marquez may soon be answered.

Yesterday in social media Marquez posted this update and could mean that she is going to announce for another office.

Or it could mean a lot of other things too, but it is apparently the social media post heard all around the Borderland because it set a lot of people buzzing about what her possible plans could be.

Sorry the post doesn't offer more details so you'll have to wait until she chooses to reveal whatever it is she's talking about.

Veto & Override

Mayor Leeser has the ability to veto the raise approved by council for the city manager. Well, I should say he had the ability to do so, time ran out over the weekend and he can no longer do so as I understand it. 

I sent a text to all member of council with the exception of Rep Carl Robinson. 

I don't have a cell number for him.

Typically members of council are pretty good at getting back to me when I have a question. 

But it looks like they were trying to kill the clock on this one. 

I sent the text out yesterday and here is what it said, "If Mayor Leeser vetoed the raise in order to give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the issue, would you vote to override his veto?"

Here are the answers of all the various members of council in order of their district. I'll have much more on this later today.

City Rep Peter Svarzbein
District 1 
"it's an interesting question however the 5 day window for the mayor to veto a resolution has passed"

City Rep Larry Romero

District 2

City Rep Emma Acosta
District 3

City Rep Michiel Noe
District 5

City Rep Claudia Ordaz
District 6
"There is a greater chance of finding La Llorona riding a chupacabra this weekend than there is of the Mayor vetoing anything he says he disagrees with."

City Rep Lily Limón
District 7
"I would not vote to override his veto."

City Rep Cortney Niland

District 8

Friday, August 7, 2015

The GOP Debate - Congressman Hurd in El Paso

Through Congressman Hurd's El Paso county portion of his district is in the valley, he is obviously the darling of the local Republican Party.

Congressman Hurd is in the El Paso area a lot. Way more so that Kiki Rodriguez or whatever his Republican predecessor's name is.

He showed up last night to the local Republican Party's debate watch party at their new headquarters. It was a packed house for the event.

Truth be told, they had about as many Republicans show up to their debate-watch event as Democrats do for ours, which is something we should be ashamed off.

The results of the strong poll last night (of the Republicans that were at the event) were as follows:

Ted Cruz
Scott Walker
Marco Rubio
Dr. Ben Carson
Carly Fiorina

Not sure why she made the cut, she was in the consolation bracket debate, but she apparently did better than Trump and Bush with local Republicans.

Chris Cristie was last.


Take this post for what its worth since I'm a member of the Democratic Party, so my comments are not only biased but not at all based on dogma.

If it was, I'd say they all sucked.

So my comments are from a general election stand point, not primary red meat.

I'll make this quick -

Candidates that worry me in a general election:

Marco Rubio
Governor Kasich

Candidates I hope end up in the general because they guarantee a Democrat will win:

Donald Trump
Ted Cruz
Rand Paul

Worst Performer of the Night:

Donald Trump

Candidates that were Forgettable:

Rand Paul
Ted Cruz

Candidate that Got Owned by Chris Cristie:

Rand Paul

Most Improved:

Marco Rubio

I'm a Democrat so when I watch the debate I watch from the perspective of who I think would do well in a general election against a Democrat. Democrats, pay attention to Rubio. I thought he scored the line of the night when he talked about how Hillary wouldn't be able to lecture him about living paycheck-to-paycheck.

I thought Trump did terribly, which saddens me as a Democrat because I want them to make him their nominee. He was the only one that said he wouldn't run as an independent. That question was obviously aimed at him because everyone in the GOP establishment is worried that is exactly what he will do if he isn't the nominee. He didn't rule out pulling a Ross Perot.

He sounded more and more like a nut and I think a lot of the luster came off of Trump last night.


I'd expect his numbers to start to decline.

Rand Paul got owned by Chris Christie in their exchange and I'm sure that bothers my friends what wave the yellow flag but its true. Christie really struck a blow with the whole you-do-speeches-and-have-them-on-youtube-faster-than-a-pizza-gets-delivered thing.

And seriously, what is with the hair?

Was his strategy to stand out from Trump by having creepier hair than Donald? If so, he wins.

Mike Huckabee - total joke and an extremist that has no chance in hell. Although I found him entertaining.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

State Rep Candidate Fillings

Two more interesting candidate filings to bring you up to speed about.

Former HD 75 State Rep Chente Quintanilla filed for a treasurer earlier this month. Quintanilla (D-Tornillo) is going to try to re-take the seat he served in for about a decade. He will face State Rep Mary Gonzalez in the Democratic Primary next year.

Over in HD 77 Lina Ortega (Steve's tia) has filed a treasurer as well. She's an interesting candidate because the other candidate that has filed a treasurer already is perceived to be the "Marisa Candidate" and this may set up another big TLR v TTLA match up.

We may be already looking at the two front-runners unless something big happens, which isn't out of the realm of possibility considering we are still pretty far away from a filing deadline.

Ordaz on "No" Vote to City Employee's Bonus

I contacted Representative Ordaz to get comment from her about why she voted against a one-time bonus to all non-uniformed city employees in the amount of $1000.

Ordaz, who represents District 6 which is made up of parts of the east side and the Mission Valley, explained that she felt that the city should be looking at raises for employees and that the extra revenue the city had should go to offset, at least partially, an increase in taxes.

Ordaz was only of only two city representatives that voted against the measure.

City Rep Peter Svarzbein also voted against the one-time bonus for city employees as well.

Here is the full audio of her comments.

Fall Out From Gonzalez Raise

Apparently some people are blind and don't realize that the community is pretty much united in their displeasure with the raise for Tommy Gonzalez.

But it doesn't take a genius to take the community's pulse on this one.

Lets be clear about something. Maybe a few people are pissed about the raise because they basically just hate the city manager form of government and all that comes with it. But they are the minority.

This is one of those issues that has people that are basically a-political pissed off. Guess what, those people don't know and don't care about a debate involving a strong mayor/strong council form of government.

The raise has bothered people who are supporters of a strong council form of government, like myself. Those people aren't saying get rid of the city manager and go back to a strong mayor. In fact after I have reviewed comments on all the published stories in the real media, two things are really hard to find. One, people who support the raise and two, anyone who is saying go back to strong mayor form of government.

I've spoken with several members of council since they vote and I've heard from both members of council and staffers that their offices have been getting calls about the vote. The overwhelming majority have been opposed to the vote.

They don't really care what you have to say, but they are getting the calls for whatever that is worth.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Poll Question on Raise

Okay people, I haven't had a poll in a while.

So have at it. I posted the poll question off to your left.

Weigh in.

Acosta to Host Gonzalez at Community Meeting

City Rep Emma Acosta, who voted for the raise to City Manager Tommy Gonzalez will be hosting him at her next community meeting tomorrow night.

These are free and open to the public. Just in case you were interested in raising the increase in pay issue with either of them. 

Council Gives Staff Chump Change; Makes it Rain on City Manager

I actually recorded a video and was going to post it in this piece but decided otherwise because I dropped more than a few "F" bombs in it.

But seriously city council, are you people fucking kidding me? You throw chump change at employees and give the City Manager a raise that is twice the average wage in El Paso for a year and not much less than the President of the United States?

I should've known something was up on Monday when somehow they pulled $4 million out of their asses all of a sudden.

I'll get to the $1000 hush money in a minute.

In what might be the most tone-deaf awarding of money to a public official this side of last summer's Valenti bonus, city council apparently decided to give the city manager a pay raise he didn't even ask for...allegedly.

But lets speak a little truth to power shall we?

This was $60,000 in "Oh please, please, please stay in El Paso" money.

After several weeks of hearing about a range of issues that are going on at city hall that need to get fixed, after a press conference by the mayor and city manager in which they both acknowledged work needed to be done, city council decided to give city manager Tommy Gonzalez $60,000 in a pay raise?

On top of the pay raise he just got?

Well, you have these to gentlemen to thank for it:

City Rep Noe (L) - City Rep Romero (R)
This item was the brain child of City Reps Noe and Romero.

Noe and a few others on council are scared to death that City Manager Tommy Gonzalez is going to leave El Paso and that is likely the reason they decided to give him the please-stay-in-El-Paso-money.

I'm really starting to think that council doesn't have the first clue of how the public thinks of them. The fact that the city manager and mayor had a press conference just the other day in which they acknowledged the need to improve some things at city hall is at the very least a tacit acknowledgement that things are not what they should be.

If things are currently not what they should be, and this is all under Gonzalez' watch and he can't blame this on Wilson, then why in the blue-hell are we giving this guy a raise that is a whopping 25% increase?

Has he saved the city money? Well Noe and Romero say so.

Thats great. I sure hope he has saved more than what the city has lost out on during his tenure because you can spin it all you want to, but the city lost out on same major millions of dollars on that whole MPO screw up.

Oh wait, thats right. I almost forgot. The city manager says that was city council's screw up, not his. Or was it TxDOT? No wait, new rules at the MPO.

So a guy who has only been at the city for a couple of years now is getting a 25% pay increase. Hear that city employees that haven't received a raise in I don't know how long? That's right, city council on Monday tossed you a $1000 one-time bonus. That means you aren't getting it next year. You haven't received a raise in a long time but here's $1000 to forget that you aren't getting a pay raise. What are your medical insurance deductibles again?

Forget I asked that.

Lets continue.

Council hasn't given you a raise and there is no indication they are going to even look at getting you a raise next year. Well, other than what a couple of them might say in front of a news camera. But you know better than to trust their promises don't you?

Meanwhile, you're asked to make sacrifices for the budget over the last few years. Your colleagues in uniform, they have a union. That union takes care of them and fights for its members.

You, what do you have? Who do you have fighting for you? Hector Montes?

I don't know who is fighting for you, but I'll tell you this - they are doing a terrible job. Seriously, where the hell is labor on this? City employees that pay dues, you need to be asking some really hard questions about just where in the hell is your leadership in all of this? Maybe if everyone on council didn't hate your union guy you might be actually getting a raise instead of a one-time bonus he had nothing to do with getting for you.

Monday city council passed a one-time $1000 bonus for employees. Most of council voted for it but a couple voted against it because they felt the employees deserved a raise instead of a one-time bonus and the bonus money should've gone back to the tax payers.

But intelligence and common sense on city council is pretty much frowned upon these days.

Kudos to Representative Limón for sticking up for the employees and fighting for something from council for the employees. She has been the advocate for the employees for quite some time now. But because most of council acts like they are trying out for the sequel to Mean Girls (I hear the working title is Mean Girls - All Grown Up & Elected; Not Just for Girls Anymore) Limón has been unsuccessful at getting anything passed.

Now all of a sudden the same city council that was pointing at staff is now trying to act like they are staff's BFF? Give me a break!

How stupid do you think your employees are?

Staff should remember who it is that has been standing up for them and trying their best to do right by them and who was the most vocal opponent of the City Manager's raise. Its her:

City Rep Lily Limón has been the only consistent voice in favor of the employee at council. But since several members of council don't like her, her items rarely get the consideration they deserve. In fact, this council tried to go even further and make it nearly impossible for her to even put an item on the agenda. That is how your city council acts.

I absolutely dare any member of council to say I'm wrong about that too.

So council gives you $1000 but no pay raise. The very next day, they turn around and basically say that the City Manager is 60 times more important than you are.

But who gets thrown under the bus when something goes wrong at the city?

You do.

Not the city manager. He has electeds on council that shield him from any blame.

Not the electeds because when something goes wrong, God forbid an elected official stand up and take responsibility and say the buck stops here.

Nope. They look for someone to blame.

Who is that someone that usually gets blamed?


Obviously all one has to do to get a sense of how people feel about this issue is take a quick look at social media or any of the comments on the local news sites. I have a grand total of ONE PERSON that I know that thinks its a great idea. City council is pretty out of touch and probably doesn't realize how much people dislike this action, but all they have to do is open their FB page and check out the feedback. It's not pretty.

City Reps Acosta and Niland still (amazingly) have mayoral aspirations - and they just gave opponents mail material. Congratulations.

So now the city manager makes $300,000 a year and they doubled his vacation time on top of that. Guess what city council? You can kiss your raise goodbye. You just sacrificed your modest raise in exchange for his massive raise. Congratulations.

Oh and one more thing city staffers, Romero and Noe knew on Monday when they were giving you your one-time $1k that they were going to dish out $60k to your boss the next day.

Happy Employee Recognition Day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Council Gives City Manager a Raise that is Twice the Average Salary of El Pasoans

Really city council?


Are you fucking kidding me? You gave the city manager a raise that is more than twice the salary of what the average El Pasoan makes?

Are you people completely tone deaf?

More on this raise tomorrow on the LSB.

Valenti Under Fire - Again

The Children's Hospital and their Board of Directors basically didn't pay bills to UMC for a really long time - a debt that big doesn't happen over night - and appear to be perfectly content with the fact that Valenti can't help himself from being the villain.

Its a distraction from the fact that they flat out just didn't pay bills.

That being said, Valenti is, as the El Paso Times put it in today's editorial, his own worse enemy. To pretend that he isn't is simply ignorant of reality.

Sure, Children's Hospital may not be his fault, but the guy makes himself look bad every time he speaks.

Commissioner Vince Perez has publicly called for his head now a couple of times, going back to when he first laid off employees and then turned around and accepted a fat bonus.

Now he's angered Commissioner Carlos Leon with what appears to be another change in his story about the people that were let go.

If it were up to the Court, I'm pretty sure Valenti would be gone already. Unfortunately he is hired/fired by the UMC Board, which Commissioner's appoint but cannot fire. So Valenti has done a good job of keeping most of them happy.

The problem is when he has these public gaffe's he is withdrawing from their support bank account. You can only make so many withdrawals from the account before you start bouncing checks. We he messes up in public, the board gets the heat for having him as the Head Vato in Charge.

The El Paso Times all but called for his head in today's editorial. Valenti now has lost the faith of commissioners, the public, and the media. He has lost a couple of his main apologists on the board. The board can renew his contract if they want to next year and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. Not the media, not the court, not the public.


So the real question is, does Valenti ultimately end up with the support on the board for a contract renewal?