The reality is that accepting the feria from Estrada Hinojosa through Carlos Aguilar was a mistake no matter how you look at it.
The optics of the transaction alone were bad and Acosta is an experienced city rep with arguably the most politically experienced staffer of anyone on council.
They should have known better.
But the did the right thing in returning the money. I'm confused as to why she's defiant to the media about accepting the money in the first place but is still returning the money. I mean look, you're either defiant and you don't return the money, or you acknowledge a mistake and return the money. She seems to be wanting to do both at the same time.
Its the Donal Trump school of politics that dictates you can't admit to being wrong because it somehow shows you're weak. Thats just silly. People are forgiving, but you have to acknowledge a mistake.
A better way to have handled the situation would've have been for her to say that in light of recent developments and in order to reassure her constituents that she was going to return the money. They should could pivot back into what the money was for and how great an event it is for the community.
Because those events really are great.
Bottom line is, she did the right thing and returned the money. And good for her.
Now the City of El Paso needs to do the right thing.
There is ab-so-fucking-lutely no reason that there isn't an outside entity looking into what happened with the attempt to fire the current financial advisor. It is the height of irresponsibility to have the city look into its own potential problems. Having both the city manager and the auditor look into the matter separately is nothing more than the appearance of due diligence.
It would mean a hell of a lot more if they auditor didn't answer to the city manager and the financial committee that is chaired by, you guessed it, City Rep Larry Romero.
The auditors at the county don't answer to commissioner's court. They answer to an independent body, the Council of Judges for that very reason. It makes no sense to have someone who works for you keep an eye on you.
They Mayor needs to have an outside firm look into this issue because this development has shaken the public's trust. Their trust isn't going to be earned back by having an internal investigation with all kinds of potential problems.
The only smart way to approach this is with an outside firm with no dog in the fight. If there are findings, then act accordingly. If there are no findings, then Mayor Leeser did the right thing and can tell the public everything was on the up and up.
We can't go backwards into the dark days that hung like a cloud over our community for so many years.
Now the mayor has put himself in a tough spot. Because if the internal investigation comes back squeaky clean, which its almost guaranteed to do because you have inherent conflicts of interest, and the public pressures for an outside firm and the mayor decides to go with an outside firm that comes back with findings...well then you have quite the mess on your hands Mr. Mayor.
Oh, and one more thing. In this piece in the El Paso Times, they make mention that the move to replace First Southwest was done after Romero and other unnamed members of council raised concerns about the performance of First Southwest.
The mayor should insist on naming names. Who where the other members of council that raised concerns along with Romero? Why hasn't that come out yet?
The public has a right to know who they are.