Monday, November 30, 2015

Safe Election Cycle for Incumbents

Its pretty interesting that with a big primary coming up in March it looks like there really won't be much fireworks on the local scene and so races that no one gives a shit about will actually take center stage.

So far there are only two incumbents with challengers, although the filing deadline is still a couple of weeks away. I haven't even heard any whispers of anyone thinking about taking on an incumbent either. And frankly, that doesn't even matter because unless you're taking on an incumbent judge its sorta already too late.

I know there are some politicos that like to slide in at the last moment to surprise people and think its gonna make a splash and help propel them to victory but it doesn't. And they aren't going to catch an incumbent by surprise either.

The only person that it worked out for was Oscar Leeser and Leeser was a unique situation. There had been talk about him running for mayor for a long time. Hell it was the worst kept secret in El Paso since Judge Escobar ran for County Judge. But unless you have 20+ years of experience on local television where you've built up a brand and you have a ton of money, guess what? You aren't going to be the next Mayor Leeser.

Anyone serious about mounting a real campaign doesn't wait until the last minute. They start early to reach out to people, volunteers, groups, donors, etc.

Only State Rep Mary Gonzalez and Constable Aguilar are facing opponents.

Not exactly sure what that says about the currently slate of elected officials but its not hard to imagine that any elected official without a challenger will take it as a sign from the community that they are doing okay.

And its hard to argue against that point.

Most Reps No-Shows at Sun Bowl Parade

Every year the Sun Bowl has a Thanksgiving Parade down Montana that features a couple area marching bands, some people dressed like cowboys shooting off guns that are blanks but much louder than the real thing, a couple floats etc.

Its also the one time a year where El Paso does its best Soviet Union impression by rolling out a series of law enforcement agencies in this town as they drive down the street in all their tactical stuff.

The other thing you see every year is a bunch of elected officials in the parade. That happens every year and its usually all the members of council and all the members of commissioner's court. Or at the very least, the vast majority of them.

This year most of the county commissioner's where there. But interestingly only two members of city council showed up. Which is interesting when you consider there are so many more members of city council than there are commissioner's court.

The Mayor was at the start of the parade and actually had a pretty good reception. He walked along with his wife.

The other member of council in attendance was City Rep Ordaz who rode in a pick-up truck with Commissioner Perez.

Thats it. No one else from council was in the parade.

Council is obviously not the most popular group of folks in town these days so its understandable that they wouldn't want to be in a parade and potentially get boo'ed. Before the excuses start flying around there are two things to consider. One, its plausible that some of them chose to be with their families and I know at least one of them was out of town. Two, most if not all of the members of council that were on the council last year, where in the parade last year but for whatever reason aren't this year. Who knows, maybe its because there was a municipal election on the horizon last year.

Especially after a scathing Op Ed last week by the El Paso Times calling for the resignation of City Rep Larry Romero. Its apparent that when Rep Romero said he would have a conversation with the community he didn't mean at a parade in his district.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rep Romero Responds to Times; Tolbert Responds to Romero & Deja Vu

Apparently the media went to Rep Romero's office to get comment about the El Paso Times calling for his resignation and yet again, he declined comment.

But he ultimately sent in a statement to KVIA and they ran a story on it last night. Click here to check it out.

By the way - we've seen this movie before people. More on that in the last segment of this post. 

In his statement alleges that the Times is "jumping into the campaign business". He goes on to say that "enough is enough" and that he's going to have a conversation with the community about this etc.

No he isn't. He is avoiding media.

They are going to be at every public meeting he has in order to get comment from him on camera. What's he gonna do? Hide out forever? If he has a conversation with the community as he says, he will inevitably face news cameras. Then he will have to answer specific questions and if he wanted to deny the allegations laid out by the Times, he would have in his statement.

Its a case study in how not to respond in the media. At the very least he could have challenged the credibility of what was alleged or the source or something. He did none of that. Even his feeble attempt at implying its a witch hunt falls flat because the Times can't be involved in the "campaign business" when Romero isn't in a campaign!


Jim Tolbert responded to Romero with an open letter. Click here to read it. Tolbert lays out a series of critiques against Romero and then calls for his resignation.

I think Tolbert has to put his money where is mouth his. I think he needs to do more than write a blog post about it. He came in second place. I think he has an obligation to do with Adam Gurrola couldn't if he wants to have any credibility with the electorate. Otherwise Tolbert should step aside and support another candidate willing to step forward if he really feels there is an urgency to change the leadership.

Also, take note of what Tolbert says about what happened to Gurrola when he tried to recall Romero. If that is true, then I personally think it reflects more negatively on Romero than the streets thing.


In the words of of the late Yogi Berra, "Its deja vu all over again".

This situation with Representative Romero has happened in this community before. Right down the street from the current city hall back in 2007 to be exact.

Lets all climb into the DeLorean, adjust the flux capacitor, and floor the gas until we hit 88 mph and go back to 2007.

Familiar territory right? A governmental body has the financial advisor firm First Southwest and things are going along just fine. The topic of bonds and a ballpark is before the County. It was also a bit controversial if you recall.

You memmer, memmer?

There was a sudden move by one of the elected officials to oust the financial advisor in the middle of a contract and send it out to rebid amid sudden allegations of displeasure with the firm's performance?

The difference was it was the County, it was the Sports Park, the elected officials was Anthony Cobos, but the contract went to a firm that didn't score as well in the bid process yet was favored by the elected official, and the transa wasn't done behind closed doors.

Sounds familiar right?

What's that sound? Its Doc in the DeLorean again. We have to go with him back to the future.

No, its not because we become assholes or something.

Its the Sports Park Marty. Something has got to be done about the Sports Park. Its still not done!

David K is Getting Paid or Played

When Ali Razavi, Martin Paredes, or David K write about me - which is pretty often - I normally just roll my eyes and laugh whenever I find out about it. Actually with David K I usually find out right away because I read his blog daily.

The other two I really don't bother with but eventually someone tells me about it.

But David K is straight up getting paid, or played, in his latest piece. Please read it so that you can be up to speed with his lunacy. Click here.

Normally when these fools write shit about me I don't even bother trying to dispel whatever it is they wrote because honestly its usually pretty entertaining and I'd be lying if I told you I didn't get a kick out of all the magical powers they assign me.

To hear them tell it, I am the all-powerful behind the curtains sentient being that runs this town. Which truth be told, if I was in charge around here the first thing I'd do is fix public transportation in the valley and then focus on UTEP football.

Seriously, this is Texas. We need a good football team to root for in this town.

Any who, now that you've had a chance to read DK's latest piece let me tell you what he won't tell you.

First of all, I was never a supporter of Larry Romero. I was rooting for Michael Apodaca. He's a friend of mine and we've worked together on a lot of things over the years in the Democratic Party. David K is a fucking idiot for saying I was supporting Romero. Its another one of those times where he just makes shit up out of nowhere. I think I might have said I thought Romero was going to win in the runoff once it was down to him and Tolbert, but thats about it.

I was supportive of Mikey all the way. I attended his campaign kick-off event. Five Points Bistro as I recall. Yet again, David K shows he doesn't know what he's talking about.

And opposed to the ballpark? Are you fucking kidding me? I love that place. Anyone that knows me, or follows me on social media, knows I've been all for the team and stadium since they unveiled the uniforms. That alone shows you how full of shit David K is. If he can't even get that shit right about me, there is no reason to believe anything else he says.

David K was fed that stuff about Ordaz's staffer, only its a far more embellished fish story from when it was first pitched to me. How do I know?

Because the same member of council that pitched it to him, tried to pitch it to me. And while DK loves to blame Ordaz for everything from Starbucks' Red Cup to Ben Carson plummeting in the polls, I was unaware of her staff change until I was informed by the same city rep that pitched the story to him. I was actually late to the party because from what I have now gathered since then, it was like a full week after it happened.

It was also pitched to media.

And no one bit.


Because when something is pitched to media and they don't bite on it, its the universal sign in the media that something is bullshit.

Only now David K gets to be the pendejo that wrote about it and ultimately looks like a fool for going with a fabricated story to help a city council ally. Which is funny because its the very same thing he frequently accuses me of doing.

How very Martin Paredes of him.

But what does he care what the truth is? I'm guessing that the facts aren't anywhere near what David K claims them to be. And its pretty smart what he and his click do when you think about it. Start a whisper campaign that you can walk away from and say "well thats how I heard it" when it all blows up in his face, but will never really go away because its on obvious HR issue and because of privacy policies almost never come to light.

I'm betting he will owe a lot of people apologies too, but I'm also betting they won't get them either.

Although his allies should probably thank their lucky stars that HR issues don't come to light and that other bloggers don't spread unconfirmed innuendo about their staffers right?

But that's David K's turf, not mine.

The rest of his piece is essentially accusing the Times of participating in a grand conspiracy to take down Romero over something that was old news. Which is weird because confirmation of a business relationship between Romero and the big shot from the other financial advisor firm only recently came to light.

And of course David K is still pushing his narrative of there being absolutely nothing wrong with the City Manager's raise. This guy is has his head in the sand or this is a willful effort on his part and others to create an alternate reality.

Its entertaining, but damn he's looking like a total fool right now.

But one thing is for sure, when the dust settles on all of this, as sure as someone will die in a Walmart being trampled during a Black Friday sale, David K will find a way to spin it saying he knew it all along.

Sure you did David, sure you did.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Times Editorial Calls for Rep Romero's Resignation

"Romero has breached the public trust, and must resign."

In a bold and unprecedented move yesterday, the Editorial Board of the El Paso Times called for the resignation of a sitting elected official, City Rep Larry Romero.

At first I thought it might have been the first time they called for the resignation of an elected official that wasn't under indictment. Hell I don't even think they called for the resignation of any of the Gandaras, which is saying a lot, especially considering former Socorro City Rep Jesse Gandara had been arrested multiple times in about a month time-span. So the fact that they called for Romero's resignation is certainly noteworthy.

KVIA reported on the call for the resignation of City Rep Romero but they received no comment from Rep Romero. City Council's meeting for this week was canceled due to the holiday, so unless media call him or visit him at his home or office, its unlikely Romero will have to face the media on this issue until next month.

Talk about waiting out a news cycle.

The only other time that I can recall the Times calling for resignations of sitting elected officials was EPISD during their cheating debacle.

But this is the first time I can recall that a single member of an elected body as high up the food chain as city council has been asked to step down by the newspaper.

I'm sure some will down play the significance of such a move but as a community we should take this recommendation seriously. The Times has done several stories over the last few weeks that have underscored several actions taken by Romero that were at the very least, a sign of the fact that he very frequently circumvents established procedures set by the city.

In an editorial that ran on Sunday called An Awful Mess at El Paso City Hall, the paper outlined several recent problems and focused primarily on an effort to replace the city's financial advisor. The paper said they'd done an investigation that revealed that Romero was a business partner of the firm that was going to receive the city's contract for financial advisor services.

The editorial piece says Romero directed that the current contract which was only about half-over be terminated and the city was all set to give the contract to a former business partner of City Rep Romero.

And Romero notified no one of his connection to the firm. Also included in the piece is mention of an effort by Romero to set up a meeting with former city manager Joyce Wilson, whom he hadn't disclosed his financial relationship with the firm to but the paper says Romero had better luck setting up the meeting with city manager Tommy Gonzalez.

The same Tommy Gonzalez that has a business relationship with City Rep Romero's brother.

The same Tommy Gonzalez that City Rep Romero pushed through a raise that is more than twice the annual salary of an average El Pasoan.

The same Tommy Gonzalez he went to in order to get streets paved that weren't on the council-approved plan (a move that was first characterized as "corruption" by one of his closest allies on council before it was walked-back) and the same Tommy Gonzalez he turned to in order to get speed humps installed on streets that shouldn't have them in front of his alma mater.

Part of the role of journalists is to keep government in check and the El Paso Times has had a big focus on the failings of local government over the last few years. That is healthy for our community.

So what happens to Romero from here? My guess is nothing. I highly doubt that Romero will resign. His political career is over. There is no way he would survive a re-election bid which is still a couple of years away so in essence District 2 will have a lame duck representing them for the next couple of years and his effectiveness is now severely compromised.

The best hope for the district was a recall effort that had a lot of potential but was abruptly abandoned by Adam Gurrola the day after it was filed. That botched effort has probably eliminated Gurrola as a potential candidate for anything now as well, which is a shame but something he must have deeply considered before abandoning a cause he was pushing.

But in retrospect, I would imagine the circumstances leading to Gurrola's sudden reversal will also likely get scrutiny from the media now.

Unless another recall effort happens District 2 will be in limbo for a couple of years.

The $22 Million Question

Earlier this week we learned of yet another costly screw up at the city - this time costing tax payers $22 million.

There was a delay on the project that was made for obvious political purposes - to avoid then City Rep and Mayoral hopeful Steve Ortega from having to take another controversial vote on the issue. The delay ended up costing the tax payers millions. 

This issue came up last week during the city council meeting but no one seemed interested in asking the very obvious question...who made the call to delay the vote?

Thats a serious problem because it wasn't an issue that was acted upon by council. So it was someone who made the call administratively. That would either be the former city manager or the former CFO. 

This should be making all kinds of alarms go off. First, the current members of council that were part of that administration should be answering questions about whether or not they had knowledge this was going on. 

Second, if they did have knowledge, why didn't the raise the issue? Third, if they didn't have knowledge, why didn't they? Is administration really that free to operate and no one on council is the wiser or even asking the tough questions? Is that still the case?

There is an easy temptation to just let it go because its water under the bridge. While I applaud the fact that there is a big focus on fixing the city's many current screw-ups, this council has a bad habit of not holding itself or individuals accountable for screw ups. That needs to change if you want the confidence of the constituents. 

Hell no. This is one of those situations where someone needs to be held accountable and the public should have full detail on what went down. Anything less is an injustice. 

Someone knew went down but no one is talking. That is a bad sign and frankly this current council can't afford to have any more lapses in public confidence. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Regime Change at Black El Paso Democrats

Long-time Democratic Party activist Sissy Byrd is the new Chair of the Black El Paso Democrats after being elected to the post last night.

Sissy Byrd succeeds long-tim Chair and Democratic Party personality Don Williams as the chair of the BEPD.

BEPD has long been one of the more influential Democratic Party Auxiliaries despite it not having a lot of voting members. BEPD is also known for throwing the annual dinner that has always been the most well-attended event and typically had the best speakers, typically national-level leaders.

Sissy Byrd becomes the first woman to chair BEPD.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

City Manager a No-Show at Community Meeting

El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez was set to speak at City Rep Lily Limón's community meeting on Wednesday night but was a no show.

A frequent reader from the valley let me know that he was a no-show and that  Rep Limón didn't know the city manager wasn't going to show up until she received a text message from him at the last minute. 

My source tells me the attendees of the community meeting were pretty upset that he didn't attend.

There was no specific reason given as to why he wasn't in attendance either.

I'll attempt to find out why he wasn't able to attend the community meeting. Generally meetings with constituents are pretty important to most city officials so I'm sure there was a good reason he missed the meeting and didn't let anyone know until the last minute.


Refugees in El Paso

Listen, since the tragedy in Paris last week there has been a blur of conversations dealing with everything from gun control to religion control to the plight of refugees.

I can't begin to tell you how wrong the conservative right is on this issue. Do I start with their pro-life stance? Or do I start with their answer to Black Lives Matter being All Lives Matter.

Oops, except those of refugees. Those don't matter.

Seriously they should just come out and say what they really mean.

All White Lives Matter.

Hell they can't even make a biblical argument.

Actually speaking of conservatives, let me stop for a moment and say that I'm surprised David K hasn't blamed Paris on either me or Rep Ordaz (yet). I'm sure he'll work in her recent trip to the Holy Land as being more than just a coincidence.

Any who, back to a couple more thoughts about the Paris tragedy.

If those of you on the right who love to regurgitate bumper sticker politics and say stuff like "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" then you have to agree that religion doesn't kill people, people kill people.

So far several mayors across the country and across Texas have come out, probably in response to an equal amount of governors who have said they will not, saying they will take in refugees.

I'm wondering what the position of our own Mayor Oscar Leeser is on the issue. Lets find out where he stands on the issue since other mayors have said they would take in refugees.

Now for the anti-immigrant crowd like Barbara Carrasco and others, it will be really interesting to watch them have a melt-down over this one. Especially because we live in a state where it is so easy to acquire a fire arm.

The gun rights people recognize there is a major problem for them. They are fine with nice white folk owning fire arms, but as soon as you get dark skinned people with foreign names in the Lone Star State where its so easy to get guns, watch them freak the hell out.

City of El Paso in Worse Shape Than You Think

So I spent the day at city council hall yesterday because I was looking into something. But along the way an interesting city council meeting sprouted up.

Here is the first thing you need to know as a taxpayer, the city is far more screwed up than you think. It seems like there is always a new revelation about yet another fuck up.

Yesterday it was a park in Emma Acosta's district. And some street stuff. And some financial stuff.

Basically the last couple of months have been a parade of a lot of stuff going on at city government that is essentially failed government.

The funniest part is to watch them try to blame the pervious administration for screw ups because many of the current reps are more concerned with looking good rather than actually DOING good. But that is another post for another day.

The reality is that a lot of them are in a tough spot because they don't want to blame the current city manager because you know, they dropped a big ass raise on him like a GI in a strip club on the 1st of the month. They would have to admit it was a mistake.

On the other hand, several of them were PART of the previous administration.

So its a balancing act that they do poorly.

One thing for sure though...City Rep Cortney Niland and the current city manager Tommy Gonzalez certainly appear to have had a falling out. Things got particularly testy late yesterday afternoon when they were discussing more MPO issues.

Basically the city manager told Niland that she should stop bringing him projects that aren't ready.

I will say this about City Rep Niland, she has certainly become much more assertive over the last few weeks. For months following her narrow re-election she seemed like she wanted to avoid as much attention as possible and was much more demure in meetings. Now, shades of the old Honey Badger are back, for better or worse. She's more vocal and appears to want to wrestle back a leadership role on council.

The question is what is going willing or going to do to essentially come back from the dead? Time will tell but you can most certainly see she is anxious to get that leadership role back. It will be interesting to see if she can become the alpha council person again but I doubt Acosta, Noe, or Limón will go quietly into the night.

But getting back to the central theme of this post, at what point does this council rise above excuses and start looking at solutions?

Kudos to the Mayor, Niland, and Romero for raising the issue of the financial advisors because it was beneficial to have that conversation about where we are financially and were we are going. What is most interesting is that Niland was the only one defending the previous CFO and trying to throw the financial advisors under the bus.

She blamed them for yet another in a long line of city multi-million dollar screw-ups. She vehemently denied any wrong-doing or blame and said that the $20+ million screw-up was the fault of the financial advisors. Apparently at some point Romero thought so too because he asked for them to be fired.

One problem. No one else in the room remembered things going down the same way. That's because that is not how it went down. The current CFO flat out debunked that. The $20 million extra we had to pay was because members of the previous administration, some of which are still on council, voted to delay until after the election. When it comes to big projects, delays almost always mean more money.

At any rate it was sure interesting to watch how the demeanor has changed between the city manager and some of his formerly really supportive allies on council. Now it looks like the only people left in El Paso who still think it was a good idea are Mrs. City Manager and David K.

Interesting Fundraiser Tidbit

There's a big fundraiser event today for former Congressman Pete Gallego. Want to know how serious the Democratic Party is about winning back the seat?

This is how serious - the fundraiser is being headlined by Congressman O'Rourke and former Congressman Reyes.

I know, the invitation looks chafa and was probably done on Word (giggle) but nonetheless it's interesting to see Gallego transcend the local feuds.

Adolfo Lopez, candidate for HD 77 is also having a fundraiser this evening. He is squaring off against Lina Ortega in the Democratic Primary to replace State Rep Marisa Marquez who is leaving the legislature and has joined Forma Group officially in the capacity of client development.

Forma is handling Lopez's campaign. The fundraiser is behind hosted at the home of former Republican State Rep Dee Margo. 

This should surprise no one. Margo, like many Republican businessmen in El Paso, gives to Democrats from time to time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chente Por La Gente: The Sequel

Former State Rep Inocente "Chente" Quintanilla has officially filed to get his seat back from current State Rep Mary Gonzalez in the Democratic Primary. 

I know, you thought his name was Vicente. 

The two have both represented Texas House District 75 in the last few years. 

This race is going to be another proxy war between TLR and TTLA and both candidates have already started littering the valley with their gaudy campaign signs.

Expect lots of mail sent out in this one.

(Photo stolen from George Ybarra)

Perez Fundraiser Today

Filings for March Primary

The filing period has begun for candidates seeking office in the March Texas Primary. So far no surprises. Follow this link for a list of candidates that have filed.

I'll save you the trip, so far its just been a couple of incumbents and constable candidates. The only real contested race so far is the District 77 race, which is the race to replace out-going State Rep Marisa Marquez who is now, as has been publicly reported, working for Forma Group.

Frankly there are really only going to be a couple of interesting races this cycle. Unless the judges get opponents, and trust me when I tell you that a few of them are ripe for the picking. If there was ever a time a lawyer wanted to think about taking out a judge, this is the cycle to do it for a few of them.

More on that later.

Other than the District 77 race the only other races that people are going to pay attention to are the DA race and the Tax Assessor-Collector. And when that race is EVER mentioned as a race people are going to pay attention to you know its going to be a snoozer of a campaign cycle.

Even though the filing window just opened, several of the races have already congealed into fields. No one with half a brain is going to get into the HD 77 race. The TTLA and TLR money people have already placed their bets. As is the case with most races, the candidate with the best field program wins that one. Lina Ortega and Adolfo Lopez are the only real candidates in this race. Anyone else that gets in will likely just be another weirdo looking for attention.

HD 75 is also a contest race. That is the race between incumbent State Rep Mary Gonzalez and her challenger former State Rep Chente Quintanilla. There's going to be a lot of money thrown around in that race too and its really early still so its unclear if that race is going to get interesting. No matter how you look at that race, any objective observer will tell you that it is going to be a big challenge for Quintanilla to retake his seat. Chente has Forma now and he will likely get a lot of money his way so you never know what can happen.

In the DA's race the field is basically set. Long-term incumbent Jaime Esparza will be facing a challenge from Yvonne Rosales and Lenny Morales. Money and organization are the big factors in that race and I think the challengers understand that Esparza has the advantage of being a long-term incumbent and the advantage of so far just campaigning via memorial walks. If you haven't noticed Esparza seems to be organizing a different memorial walk or vigil for victims of fill-in-the-blank crime and capitalizing on media from those events. The challengers have to step up and make him work harder.

The Tax Assessor Collector race hasn't had both candidates file yet but that field of candidates has also congealed. Its basically the only two people in the county that want the job, which is a thankless (and really really boring) job. Siria Rocha, who at one point was the #2 in that office will be facing Ruben Gonzalez who was appointed to fill the empty seat a few months ago. Winning the race is easy. The hard part is getting people to care enough to cast a vote for it.

Expect a chingo of undervotes.

Constable races.

I almost don't know where to start with them, other than I think they are basically a waste unless you're in the rural part of the county and almost all of them have an over-inflated sense of their value. But their campaigns have managed to annoy me faster than a drunk Cowboy fan's excuses after yet another Sunday disappointment to their fans.

District #1 (Westside) and District #4 (Eastside) are the only two contested constable races so far. Seriously guys, please stop with all the references to the late Constable Robert White. Its extremely tacky. People have been invoking his name like a GOP presidential candidate mentioning Reagan.

One of the constable candidates that is up for re-election doesn't have an opponent but damn sure deserves one. Seriously, he's been a huge waste of tax-payer dollars but no one has stepped up to run against him. All you have to do is basically pull any commissioner's court agenda item form the last couple of years and you will see an executive session item that just wouldn't die.



Man, if there were a single class of electeds that are vulnerable this cycle its the judges. Obviously some are more vulnerable than others for several reasons but if there were lawyers that actually stepped up to run and had any amount of funding an organization they would make male incumbent judges an endangered species.

All the judicial stuff from the last couple of years could be rolled up in a very neat little message easily leveraged. Especially against those that have made public comments to the media. Its a piece of mail waiting to happen.

Seriously, I think just about every male incumbent judge should be sweating it out until the filing window closes.

Then there are the high-profile cases that are always a big pain in the butt for them. It (unfairly) puts them centerstage to the public.

Think I'm wrong? Here's an example of a meme I saw on the internet the day before yesterday.

This is Judge Gonzalo Garcia, affectionately known around the courthouse as GG.

He has probably presided over thousands of cases.

I sat in on the trial of former Socorro City Rep Jesse Gandara and he was the presiding judge of that trial. He seemed like a reasonable no-nonsense type of jurist to me.

But because of the nature of the case involving this meme, he ended up being part of something that really is just part of his job as a judge.

The truth is, this is the kind of thing that could make reelection for judges who have presided over high-profile cases problematic at times. Its not a good thing for our justice system when this type of thing become common place. I included it in this piece to underscore just how difficult wearing that black robe can be in a state that elects people to the job every few years.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Leadership in El Paso

A conversation and disagreement with a fellow activist the other day inspired me to write this piece. We were at an event for a cause we both support and there was an elected official speaking. My activist buddy starts heckling the elected.

After the event we spoke about it and my buddy thinks its important to hold elected accountable to what they say. I obviously agree with that sentiment whole-heartedly. But where we differed was the need to go after an elected that has been an ally to the cause.

My belief is that electeds that are allies to your cause need to be supported, not heckled. I feel like the ones that should be heckled are the ones that aren't around and never do anything. That is who we should be kicking in the ass to do more.

My buddy's belief is to demand more from allies and the ones that don't do anything.

I guess we are both right and we are both wrong.

But that really isn't the point. It got me to thinking about leadership in El Paso. And it reminded me of something former State Representative Norma Chavez used to say. I'll get to that later.

There are a couple of types of leader in El Paso - workhorses and show horses. The reality is the leaders that are the ones that actually push policy forward, whether you like them or not, or like their policies or not, are the ones that are work horses.

They are also the ones that usually have the most haters.

Why? Because its easy to like the bump-on-the-log ceremonial show horses. They don't do shit, so they don't upset anyone's little status quo. And frankly far too often in this town that passes for leadership. All they do is show up to meetings, vote no, and don't advocate for any plan, policy, or effort for their constituency. I'm sure you can think of a whole host of electeds that fit in this category of people that don't really accomplish anything.

It goes down to their political DNA. There are some people that genuinely want to make a difference or a change and they have a specific policy agenda and fight for it. They want to make a difference in this town. And yes, some of them do it for their own little movidas so that they can say they left their mark on El Paso.

Look even for all my criticism of Rep Svarzbein of being more of a follower and taking some really terrible votes, he at least has something tangible he's trying to accomplish - the trolley thing.

I personally hate the trolly project. Its dayton rims on a tractor.

I think its too expensive, doesn't accomplish a good for the community, is a misallocation of vital transportation dollars, and is over all dripping with douchedom.

BUT...Svarzbein has been dedicated to the project for a long time and even I have to admit that it is starting to generate some excitement. Hell I actually hope I'm proven wrong about the project eventually.

You have others that just want title and status. And they don't do a damn thing good with it. But they are at the ribbon-cutting, at the parade, and all the social high-profile stuff.

As someone who has been involved in this community for years, its frustrating to see those leaders. That is why no one who wants an effective policy change gravitates their way anyway. They just call them when they need a traffic signal or a pothole filled.

And they are at all levels. You have a couple members of the state delegation that are workers and get things done and you have a few that send a press release whenever they have a bowel movement or can get in front of a camera.

But the state delegation doesn't really generate haters because they are really only relevant for a few months at a time every other year. Shhh, don't tell them that. Most of them think they are the most important leaders in this town. They aren't, but they don't know that.

You can measure how effective an elected is by the number and decibel level of their haters. Thus state reps generally serve a long time and rarely have any legitimate competition. You only see the blood flow when there is an open seat.

Its members of council and commissioners court that get all the haterade. And that happens because they meet once a week and have no off-season like the state delegation.

Which goes back to what Norma often says.

"You only get hit when you're carrying the ball."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veteran's Day

To my fellow veterans,

Happy Veterans Day. Kick back, enjoy a good meal, drink a cold one, and reflect on your service.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's Gotta Be the Shoes

You memmer that commercial? 

Spike Lee and Michael Jordan. Ring a bell?

The commercial tried to explain how His Airness could jump so high and play so well.

Now I've only played pick-up basketball with a couple of elected in town, but Rep Svarzbein wasn't one of them. So I can speak with any authority has to his hops, handles, or his jumper.

But I will say this. He has good taste in basketball shoes. Svarzbein is a shoe fanatic. I mean seriously I think he could make a Kardasian say "chingao that's a lot of shoes".

He also has a freakishly deep knowledge of classic hip hop. 

So in a throwback to the old commercial Rep Svarzbein not only has Spike Lee glasses, but also has the cool shoes. 

The Mayor's Dad

We so often hear about Mayor Leeser's mom. Rhoberta has been a fixture in local commercials for years.

She's been telling us that her son is "such a good boy" for a long time.

But I don't recall ever hearing about his father.

Well today is his day. The Mayor's father is a World War II veteran. There aren't many of those around anymore. 

So good for the Mayor, he used a little personal privilege to introduce his dad. 

It's good too see him recognized and it's pretty cool that his son was able to do so. 

Turns out, he really is a good boy.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Yet ANOTHER Street Controversy Dealing with Rep Romero & City Manager

Its the story that just won't die.

City Rep Larry Romero and yet another issue dealing with street projects and the city manager. Cindy Ramirez of the El Paso Times did a really great piece on this issue in the El Paso Times over the weekend.

If you missed it, click here.

The piece raises many concerns not only with process but with the relationship between Romero, who championed a huge raise for the City Manager, and the City Manager that always seems to pop up when there is a street project that needs to get pushed through.

It also raises major red flags about transparency at city council and that is something the city reps need to not stick their head in the sand about. They need to deal with that issue right away, but more on that in a minute.

Lets start with this.

Why in the blue hell is City Rep Romero even weighing in on a street project that is not in his district? Other than the fact that he went to Cathedral, why is this an interest for a city rep that doesn't live or represent the area? Isn't there an alley that needs attention in District 2 somewhere?

Streets like the one in front of Cathedral are major traffic arteries and so they don't qualify for speed bumps for a variety of reasons but one of which is the impediment of emergency services. Its not that it takes an emergency vehicle very long to get over the speed bump, its the fact that it can create a major flow problem for traffic during peak use hours and thats when it can really get in the way of delivery of emergency services.

But what the hell is so special about El Paso's upper-crusters that make their kids any better than all the other kids who's high school is on a major street with a lot of traffic? You know like Socorro, Montwood, Eastwood, Ysleta, Bel Air, Hanks, Americas, Horizon, Franklin, Chapin, Bowie, etc?

All those schools are off of roads that have even more traffic.

What is the exception that makes the inclusion of speed bumps in that area? Can anyone effectively articulate that?

Can anyone explain why a traffic study was done on the very same day they installed the bumps? You see, I've actually done things like get speed bumps installed and typically traffic studies are done over a series of days and then it takes time to analyze the data to determine if the area's traffic even warrants the placement of speed bumps.

Which is a moot point because that road shouldn't qualify for one to begin with. Speed bumps and humps are for residential streets. The mere existence of a residence on the street doesn't make it a residential street by the way. Stanton is a minor arterial and has more than one lane in each direction. Which is another reason the street isn't eligible for a speed bump or hump.

Last year in front of Ysleta High School, which is poorly lit and abuts Alameda, a student was hit while she was in the cross walk. When I questioned what further measures could be taken to ensure the safety of students it was explained that the school district would be responsible for additional costs of safety measures like lights etc.

Cathedral would have had to pay the same and they changed their requests from lights to speed bumps when they found that out, according to the article in the El Paso Times.

Even city staff recommended that the issue be taken before council for them to approve the installation of the speed calming measures.

That was apparently ignored.

This is the part that should really infuriate the public. The recommendation that the issue be taken before council was made by a staff member in the form of a memo. Aside from Tommy Gonzalez saying he never saw it, which is at least plausible, the real problem is that the memo wasn't originally provided to the El Paso Times.

The city originally requested the documents at the end of August and had to go back and ask for the document "repeatedly" and it was only provided Thursday.

That is unacceptable. If the daily newspaper of record in this community, that is part of a major corporation with lots of staff and lawyers has to fight to get a crummy document, how can the average citizen have any faith that they will be given documents that are responsive to their requests?

What's worse, this isn't even the first time this administration has had a problem with transparency and the media. In this piece by KVIA reporter Maria Garcia you can see that even TV media has had a hard time retrieving documents from the city.

That is a major red flag.

This reflects on the Leeser administration is something he needs to take the lead on and fix right away.