Friday, May 29, 2015

Jaime Esparza Draws Opponent...Really Early

In a pretty ominous sign for long-time District Attorney Jaime Esparza, at least one challenger has already announced he will be pursing the job Esparza has held for the better part of the last two decades.

Leonard Morales announced his candidacy on social media recently. For the first time in quite a while Esparza will be taking on a viable challenger. Morales is much younger than Esparza and that isn't something Esparza has had to deal with previously.

Just a short couple years ago Esparza was said to be the heir-apparent to Congressman Reyes' job in DC. But after several high-profile cases that didn't go his way, Esparza is now going to have to fight off a major challenge in Leonard Morales.

So far, Morales is doing things right. He's starting early and if he can raise some money and implement an effective ground game then he's going to make things difficult for the District Attorney. Things will get especially interesting if an Hispanic female jumps into the race.

"I believe the people of El Paso want a District Attorney who is interested in justice...I believe its time for a new administration to breath life into the DA's office", Morales said in a social media post.

Morales indicated that Jaime Esparza has been the longest-serving District Attorney for the 34th Judicial District, an area that covers Texas' most-western counties. Morales said Esparza has been serving more than 20 years and that it was time for change, a message Esparza himself used in his bid for the office years ago.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gandara's Sentence - What Does it Mean?

Photo Courtesy of Rosy Zugasti - Univision 26
Forever gone are "the Kennedy's of the Valley" and they went out in yet another made-for-Hollywood twist in an epic saga that has plagued the lower valley for years.

Whenever someone isn't liked by someone else and a sentence is handed down, they say, "Oh, he got a slap on the wrist."

The reality is we have a justice system and the rules are in place as they are. The sentence was from the jury. If the jury, the same one that convicted him, said he has to get probation, then the judge has to give him probation. He can control the conditions of his probation and from what an attorney tells me he could make 180 days of jail a term of his probation. But that is pretty much it.

Gandara betrayed the trust of an entire community and for a time pretty much held another community hostage, and gets off with a night in jail.

But Gandara was a good candidate for probation. He had no priors. First time offenders routinely get probation. And the concept of probation doesn't mean someone is "off the hook". Probation sucks. The terms can vary from person to person and case to case. But trust me, its not fun.

His cousin Willie got a stiff sentence at least partially because he was an elected official. But that was a sentence handed down by a judge. Jesse was an elected official at the time of his crime as well but his sentence was handed down by a jury.

That is our system, however imperfect some may think it to be. The same system that made many happy when it produced a guilty verdict enraged others when it returned what they feel is a lenient sentence.

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However, the community in Socorro and San Elizario feel like they were victimized twice. It has been an emotional roller coaster for those communities. They go from the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a conviction to the relief and joy they felt when the jury convicted Gandara of bribery. Only to end up a frustration and disbelief at the news of the sentence.

Many are only satisfied at a severe level of punishment. Bread and water in a dungeon. They say probation is a slap on the wrist. If he was sentenced to prison time and ended up in anything less than a 4x4 cell in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day they would say he got off easy.

Why do they feel that way? Because for years Jesse Gandara and some of his relatives victimized that community. The Gandara family have been in power in that small town for many years. In fact, there is still one member of the family on the city council.

The communities are understandably enraged at the sentence.

During the penalty phase of the trial, the prosecution didn't offer any witnesses. The defense offered several. The prosecution had witnesses there to testify, but just didn't. The result was the jury only heard one message and that message was from the defense about why they should be lenient.

So its not surprising they were lenient when that is the only message they got.

No amount of Monday-morning quarterbacking from non-lawyers is going to change anything or make the people of San Elizario or Socorro feel any better about the verdict today.

They feel let down by the system after being let down by the Gandaras.

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But lets look at this a little more deeply. In my opinion, the guilty verdict was the punishment.

Jesse Gandara is about ego. That is the one thing you immediately learn about him within the first minute of speaking about the guy. He loves himself. He loves his ego. That is why he has the strut and always has that smug look on his face.

Remember the press conference he held on his front porch when he got arrested? That was all ego talking.

He went into the council meeting after he was arrested to resign and he arrived late. He did that on purpose. He strutted in late in order to show off. Then he resigned, but not really because he knew he'd still be in office as part of the Texas holdover clause.

Two times in the trial he wanted to testify. That was all ego. Most defense lawyers will not want their clients to testify. Gandara's ego compels him to do things like that. Both times he backed down. He hid from the media today after the sentencing, but his ego will tell him to make a statement. He can't help himself.

He thoroughly enjoyed running Socorro. More than anything in the world he liked being a "somebody", even if that was a city councilman in a small town. Seriously, the guy named a street after himself. Who does that? A guy with a serious fucking ego problem.

He has a Facebook page he runs anonymously and refers to himself in the third person as "El Teflon", a Spanish reference to the Teflon Don, John Gatti. He fancies himself a Don.

So the conviction was his punishment. He will have to wear a scarlet letter of "Felon" for the rest of his life. When you google his name it will always be a bunch of negative stuff. Whenever he tries to find a job, the felony will be an issue. He's going to be radio-active.

He has become a punchline in a really bad joke. He is no longer a "somebody" and is now going to be known as a bad guy. That is going to hit him where it hurts the most, his ego.

The normally smug and arrogant man who ran Socorro was replaced by the pudgier man who used the Bible and his family to try to gain some sympathy during his trial. His mother, his wife, and his oldest daughter all had to endure the shame and humiliation of the proceeding. That is punishment for life and I honestly felt sympathy for his family. And truthfully I must admit, I felt sympathy for him when his daughter was on the stand because I can't begin to imagine how little that must have made him feel inside as a father and as a man.

That hit him in the ego.

The guy that strutted into city council meetings and insulted members of the Socorro community was replaced by a guy who covered his face when his mom testified and couldn't even look in his wife's direction when she was on the stand trying to save him from jail time. And honestly, I have a ton of respect for his wife because she's the bread winner and has stood by her husband at a time when it was probably a lot easier to walk away.

But more than anything, Jesse Gandara's biggest punishment was losing. He was rejected at the ballot-box by his community. His plan to annex San Eli went down in flames. almost all his allies are gone and the one that is still there is coming around to being a pretty decent representative now that his influence is gone.

The strut was replaced with hanging his head in shame. That smug smile was replaced with crying. El Teflon was replaced by El Lloron. The guy who used to publicly mock people of Socorro will now do the same but will have to hide behind his keyboard on his anonymous Facebook page to do so.

Go to Facebook and look at the comments of any of the stories posted about the verdict and you will see the public's reaction to Jesse Gandara. The outrage is all over the county. I can't remember one person so universally reviled in this community, from Vinton to Tornillo. His lawyers argued that he was only charged with a crime because he's a Gandara, but judging by the comments, people think he only got a light sentence BECAUSE he's a Gandara.

And he earned all the things that are being said of him. He took advantage of communities that had limited resources but were far too trusting of him. There is a special place in hell for those that take advantage of the defenseless and a man that uses his position and influence to try to cheat people out of transparency and fairness is a let down to this community.

Elliot Shapleigh made several speeches in the valley during his time in office and often referred to the Gandara's as "the Kennedy's of the Valley". Perhaps Jesse's biggest punishment is that he, like his father, like his uncle, and like his cousin, have turned that reputation into a political punchline synonymous with corruption. Jesse, probably even more so than the rest, did more to tarnish the family name than even the Willie's.

Sadly the term "Gandara Politics" has within just a couple of years, became a pejorative term despised by the very community that they once ran.

Everyone lost today. No one should feel happy about what went down.

Commissioner Leon Announces Re-Election Bid

El Paso County Commissioner for Precinct 1 Carlos Leon announced his reelection bid last night during a gathering of family, friends, and supporters. 

Leon will be seeking his second term to represent the eastside of El Paso and parts of east El Paso County. 

Commissioner Leon spearheaded some reforms at Ascarate Park following the uncovering of alleged financial misdeeds by former county employees.

Leon was also a key vote in the expansion of healthcare through the UMC clinics.

Commissioner Leon also spearheaded training and policy changes among the Constables to get them all on the same page on a variety of issues, which was sorely needed.

Recently Commissioner Leon led a plan to install payment kiosks around the county which will help the County capture more revenue. The plan came about over the refusal of Justices of the Peace to accept payments that go the the court of other JP's. They have the ability to do so, they just don't want to. The kiosks will remove the JP's ego's from the equation and facilitate better flow of collections.

The primary election is next March.


Gandara Verdict & San Elizario

In an ending worthy of a Hollywood script, Jesse Gandara was found guilty of bribery yesterday on the vary day that San Elizario was celebrating the gran opening of their new city hall.

Jesse Gandara was responsible for hatching a scheme to try to annex the commerce portion of San Elizario and was found guilty of trying to bribe the Licon family into publicly supporting the annexation in exchange for $40,000 in advertising and $40,000 in a weekend event at their dairy. 

Gandara is currently awaiting sentencing. The jury deliberated for just over and hour.

Gandara had no reaction when he was found guilty.

During the sentencing phase several prominent people were going to testify including former Socorro City Manager Manny Soto, Socorro City Rep Gloria Rodriguez, and others were called that weren't present including Roberto Lerma and Socorro City Rep Anthony Gandara.

Gandara's mother, spouse, and daughter all testified during the sentencing phase. 

During the closing arguments David a Contreras, attorney for Jesse Gandara, used the word "bullshit" more than a dozen times. It felt like more times that it's used in the song "Cotton-Eyed Joe".

The prosecutor responded by saying "when the facts are on your side you pound the facts. When the law is on your side you pound the law. When neither are on your side you pound the table and yell 'bullshit'". 

The jury returned with a verdict quickly.

"The guilty verdict in Mr. Gandaras trial allows Socorro to close a chapter in our troubled past. The people of Socorro deserve a government that is transparent, open, and its members comply with all aspects of the law. We have worked towards this goal for the past two years and we will continue to build on the progress that we have made." Said Socorro Mayor Jesus Ruiz.

Mayor Maya Sanchez added, "Today is a celebration for San Elizario and our focus is moving our city forward. But I'm also proud of our citizens, the Licon family. Their bravery in standing up for justice is an example to all and because of their actions, the City of Socorro is celebrating a victory today as well."



The grand opening event held just about an hour after the verdict and the mood was very upbeat at the event. The people of San Eli all were pleased with the verdict and felt like justice had finally been done.

Every mayor in the county showed up to the event except Mayor Leeser.

Correction: Tejano Election Results

I meant to post this election correction yesterday but I was busy covering the Gandara trial and the City Hall Event in San Eli and didn't get a chance. 

I was told by a member of the Tenajos that the margin was 5 votes in Eddie Holguins win over Barbara Perez. It was actually a larger margin of victory. When I get a firm number I'll post it. 

I am still covering the Gandara trial but there's a break right now and I checked my email and saw this message from Dr. Anna Perez. 


You'll not that she doesn't take issue of any other facts I've written regarding the Tejanos.

More to come.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gandara Defense Rests

The defense has rested in the Jesse Gandara case. The case will resume in moments with closing arguments and then go to the jury for deliberation. 

Judge Gonzalo Garcia has given the prosecution and defense each 30 minutes to make closing arguments. 

More to come.

The Gandara Trial - Day 1

Screenshot from KINT 26 Story on Gandara Trial
Tuesday was the first day of the Jesse Gandara trial. Gandara is facing up to 20 years on a myriad of charges surrounding allegations of public corruption.

Gandara, who has taken to referring to himself in the third person as "El Teflon" in social media, arrived at the courthouse in a gray pin-stripped suit and he appears to have put on some weight since his series of arrests in 2013.

The case is being heard on the 10th floor by Judge Gonzalo Garcia or "GG" as he's known around the courthouse. The Judge runs a tight ship and use of electronic devices is prohibited in his courtroom so tweets, etc are not allowed while the court is in session so updates can only really happen during breaks so there isn't the immediacy of tweets as is the case in other trials.

You can follow my twitter feed for updates as I am able to make them. www.Twitter.com/TheLionStarBlog

The first day of testimony featured Gene and Sandra Licon, two members of a prominent family in San Elizario who recorded a conversation in a car ride with Jesse Gandara. In the conversation and on the tape, the state alleges there was an attempt by Mr. Gandara to bribe the Licon family into publicly supporting the annexation of San Elizario into Socorro.

Mr. Gandara's attorneys are from the Public Defender's Office and are David Contreras and Jeanette Diaz.

Most of the day's testimony was the prosecution walking the first two witnesses through various parts of the audio recording that took place during that car ride around Socorro in which the State alleges the bribe offer took place.

The Licon family is very prominent in the valley and they are known for their dairy, asadero cheese, and the attractions at the dairy. Gene Licon was the first to testify. Commonly known as "Boy" around San Eli and Socorro, Licon is a farmer and took over the family business right after he got out of high school. He's a very plain-spoken man with a cleanly-shaven head and wore a light blue shirt and slacks. He didn't appear to make eye contact with Mr. Gandara when he was testifying on the stand. After walking through various parts of the recording with the State, Gandara's attorney David Contreras began questioning Licon about the benefits of annexation into the City of Socorro. Contreras' strategy in the courtroom wasn't clear and there were several times in which he was interrupted by the Court and asked the relevance of certain questions.

During the playing of the audio clips Mr. Gandara appeared to shift in his seat quite a bit and shrug his shoulders.

But the day's most compelling testimony came from Boy's wife, Sandra Licon. Mrs. Licon took the stand wearing a conservative blue and white dress with her hair pulled back into a tight and very neat french braid.

Several times during her testimony Mrs. Licon became emotional when speaking about the alleged offer of a bribe. In contrast to her husband, Mrs. Licon appeared to try to look directly at Mr. Gandara during her testimony but Gandara's head remained down looking at a yellow note pad that attorneys give their clients to give them something to do during testimony.

At one point during the examination the prosecutor asked her about a portion of the audio in which her son Angel, who testifies tomorrow, confronts Gandara about the offer and telling him it sounds like a bribe. Sandra Licon cried when describing that moment because she said she was proud that her son said out loud what they were all thinking. "I'm not as brave as my son. I am ashamed of that now...you have to speak up when something feels wrong...say something right then."

She was cross examined by Jeanette Diaz, a young attorney from the Public Defender's Office that is representing Gandara. It was a pretty short cross examination and the State didn't feel it necessary to conduct re-direct.

The State alleges that Gandara offered the Licon family a $40,000 event paid for by the City of Socorro and $40,000 in advertising along with some additional access to water in exchange for the Licon family's public support of annexation. Gandara is also facing other state felonies and is facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The trial resumes Wednesday morning at 9am on the 10th floor of the El Paso County Courthouse.

City Council Campaign Tidbits

Well here's a couple of little tidbits about a few different campaign items that I thought I'd just through in to one piece. The last one in the piece is about Rosa Cabrera (Arellano), so stick around.

A couple weeks back David K gave me a public lecture and scolding. I guess its my turn to return the favor. He really doesn't want Svarzbein to win for whatever reason. So The Juice has not taken his foot off the gas when it comes to the Svarzbein campaign finance reporting stuff and I think it irritates him that no one else seems to really care much about the issue. Here's why...its not illegal.

DK, time to take your medicine buddy. You are trying to allege corruption about something that is completely and totally legal. Sure its really silly that he filed that way, but its not illegal and you shouldn't be giving people the impression that it is. Unless you know that there is a specific crime being committed, in which case you have an obligation to report it to the authorities. DK also made a pretty serious allegation but never followed up on it. He alluded to Svarzbein's staff being paid directly by donors and not reporting it. Thats a serious allegation and if you've got the goods you should come forward with it. If not, I think you owe an apology.

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Speaking of Svarzbein, two more tidbits. Both involve former opponents. Lets start with Daniel Lopez. His tone has changed pretty drastically following the election and it seems like he has every intention of running for office again so don't be surprised if you see his name pop up again. He's been pretty supportive of Al Weisenberger for the run-off. Interestingly he made one social media post that I found interesting. He predicted Svarzbein would win, somehow compared him to Luther Jones of all people, and then referred to Svarzbein as "a simple photographer". Kind of weird to see a class ware break out in a city rep campaign on the westside. even more strange to have a guy originally from the lower valley be the one involved in the class war and refer to someone's occupation as "simple".
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Another former opponent is apparently block walking with Svarzbein, Rick Bonart. I ran across this photo late last week and the two were presumably walking areas that Bonart did well in and showing his support for Svarzbein in the run off.

Speaking of which, don't look now but early voting is just one week away.

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Heard this one from a member of the media. Apparently on election night Rosa Cabrera (Arellano) didn't even attend her own election night event. That is pretty terrible considering there were lots of friends, family, supporters, and volunteers waiting at the Julio's restaurant to hear from her.

In Cabrera (Arellano) defense, she was defeated pretty solidly. But you should still go if for no other reason than to thank your supporters.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Eddie Holguin Elected Chair of PDN Tejanos

Only in El Paso does a guy who just supported a Libertarian and who's main political advisor is a Libertarian, become elected Chair of the once most-influential organization in the local Democratic Party.

Eddie Holguin, the former city rep narrowly defeated Barbara Perez by just 5 votes of about 35 members in attendance in an election held moments ago.

The other officers include Sheriff's Office PIO Chris Acosta, former Ysleta Interim Superintendent Dr Anna Perez, Former EPISD Trustee Isela CastaƱon-Williams, and Frank Ortiz.

Correction Regarding Chris Acosta & Tejanos Fundraiser

Chris Acosta, who is a staffer for the Sheriff, is apparently really upset at me for saying that the Legacy Banquet she ran for the Tejanos last year was a "flop".

You'd think due to recent headlines she'd be a little too busy to worry about what was written in a blog, but she is apparently on top of her game.

In an email sent out last Friday night to the membership of the Paso Del Norte Chapter and its officers, Ms Acosta (who referred to me as a "dear friend") instructed the Chair and Vice Chair to "correct" me and to inform me that "the Legacy made 3,500" dollars I assume.

She also asked when they were signing me up to be a member.

Well, I have said many times that I certainly don't want to be inaccurate whenever I state something as fact. I guess the term "flop" is subjective so perhaps I could've gone on to deliver a little more clarity on what I meant.

So let me apologize to Ms. Acosta for my error. I should not have said it was a "flop".

I should've said it was a "major flop".

Yeah, that would've been more accurate I think.

Ms. Acosta didn't have to go through the trouble of emailing everyone else to get a message to me, she could've sent it to me directly seeing as how I actually post my email address. But hey, I'll make it simpler for her and anyone else wanting to reach Yours Truly. My email address is thelionstarblog@gmail.com and my cell phone is 915.694.5714. A sus ordenes.

But lets crunch some numbers. Word around the Tejano camp fire is that the alleged $3,500 raised for the Legacy Banquet is inaccurate. I was told by an officer that it is closer to $2,500. I think that last figure also accounts for a table and corsages that needed to be reimbursed.

Yes, your "dear friend" LionStar knows about Corsage-gate too... (seriously, you guys fight over some really dumb stuff)

A $2,500 profit from the main fundraiser of the once-mighty Tejanos certainly isn't stellar. Its actually not much more than what Mayela Mejia was able to help the Eastside Democrats raise in a flap-jack sale at Apple Bee's. Yeah, pankcakes at Apple Bee's raised almost as much as the Tejano's major annual fundraiser.

But I'm a fair guy, so lets just say for a moment that Acosta's figure is accurate (despite the fact that I think there may be an outstanding bill still floating around). In previous years that event has raised at least $10,000 for the club. More in an election year. For those of you keeping score at home, 2014 was in fact, an election year.

One of the previous programs was filled with a bunch of ads from judges, law firms, and candidates. So on a bad year the Tejanos made about $10k according to officers with the PDN Tejanos. But under Acosta it struggled to make 1/3 of that amount?

Yeah, pretty sure that is a flop.

And I haven't even mentioned the complaints from other members that she was difficult to work with, didn't acknowledge the officers at the event, and made sure things were kept between her and her click of support in the PDN Tejanos which from what I'm told is made up mostly of people she appoints to the Sheriff's Citizen Advisory Committee.

According to records with the Black El Paso Democrats, a MUCH smaller organization, they have never made less than $8,000 off of their annual fundraiser dinner and usually make closer to $12,000. Black El Paso and Tejanos both normally feature national-level speakers that they fly in for the banquets.

Acosta had the mayor and the sheriff.

Spaghetti and Enchilada dinner fundraisers for the Party usually make about $3,000.

The election is later this evening and she will likely be elected since I don't think anyone else actually wants to be a Vice Chair. Well, I guess they can start to focus on Flop Jacks. Oops, I mean Flap Jacks.

Oh, I almost forgot...when are they getting me to join...

I'm flattered at the invitation and would've joined sooner, but I didn't think I was old enough to be a member.

Stupid Monkey

Sometimes Martin "Fallas" Paredes is so stupid its actually painful. As usual he's late to the party and trying to take credit for something he "exposed". I'm actually a little surprised he hasn't woken up one morning opened his curtains, seen the sun and proclaimed to have "exposed" the fact that a sun in fact exists.

He's a regular Christopher Columbus, discovering stuff that was already there.

This time though, I think he might actually get in trouble with KFOX. I'll get to that in a minute.

Anywho, Fallas Paredes wrote a piece about the death of SGT James Brown and was critical of local media because only KFOX has covered the story.

This is the part where the discount bin of the blogosphere shows his stupidity. It took YEARS for KFOX to get a ruling from the Texas AG's Office on whether or not they could have the video. They are the only media outlet in town that actually has the video.

Which is why they are the only media outlet in town doing the story (so far).

Which is why I don't think they are going to be happy with the fact that the second-hand store blogger is posting the video second hand and even posting his logo on the video like its his.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Gallardo Endorses Weisenberger

My bad, I'm a little late on this one. I meant to post this earlier in the week and I forgot.

The third place candidate in the recent race for District 1 was the last candidate to come out and support a candidate in the run-off election between Al Weisenberger and Peter Svarzbein.

Bertha Gallardo has come out in support for Al Weisenberger and made the announcement via social media.



That means the candidates each split endorsements from their opposition. Weisenberger also got the support of the last-place candidate Daniel Lopez, while Svarzbein secured the support from the second and fourth place finishers in the race.

Holguin Draws Challenge from Perez

In what is now shaping up to be an interesting race, former city council rep Eddie Holguin will be squaring off against former city rep/former county commissioner/former JP Barbara Perez for the chair of the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats.

Sources within the PDN Tejanos indicate that EPCC Trustee Belen Robles will be the one who nominates Holguin at the behest of City Rep Lily Limon.

Perez has been a member of the organization for several years. Holguin became a member last year.

Holguin has been on the phone calling members asking for their support. That drew a response from some of the membership that are concerned about Holguin being the head of the Tejanos. They quickly recruited a formibdible opponent for Holguin in their person of Barbara Perez.

The issue for the faction opposed to Holguin is his support and endorsement for Pickett even after recordings of ethnically charged statements have surfaced.

"We are trying to be a voice for the Hispanic community. I don't know how Eddie could've supported someone who puts immigrants in the same level as terrorists, but we can't advocate for our community with Eddie as our chair. We would be a joke and no one would take us seriously," stated one member who asked to remain anonymous.

The member is referring to the fact that Holguin endorsed district 6 challenger Mike Pickett for city council on campaign literature over City Rep Claudia Ordaz.

Pickett is a self-professed libertarian like Holguin's political mentor Jaime O. Perez. Ordaz is a Democrat that worked for both former Congressman Reyes and former Senator Elliot Shapeligh.

The election for the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats is next Tuesday.


European Vacation?

For whatever reason it appears KFOX appears to be the only station covering the story of an active duty soldier that died in custody at the El Paso County Jail.

There have been more developments and for the latest, watch this story from last night that features a former guard at the county jail and an inmate that was in the cell with SGT James Brown. http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/features/featured/stories/Former-El-Paso-County-jail-corrections-officer-says-James-Brown-incident-falls-on-improper-training-lack-of-military-presence-at-jail-134224.shtml#.VV8uETK9LCR

At the end of the story Erika Castillo said that KFOX was still waiting for comment from the Sheriffs Department. If memory serves, Chris Acosta is the PIO for the SO.

But sources indicate that Sheriff Wiles is allegedly on vacation in Europe right now and that may be why KFOX hasn't heard comment yet.

There was no indication when Wiles went on vacation or when he would be returning.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The County Doesn't Run Children's Hospital

There is some confusion out there about the current situation with the Children's Hospital, UMC, and the County.

So rather than repeating myself on social media I thought I'd set the record straight for those of you that are really interested in understanding the roles each of the entities play. Although there is a group of people that are not at all interested in the process, they just want to deliberately spread misinformation, which is unfortunate because this is a serious issue and they'd rather score political points that deal with the real issue.

First thing to understand is simple. This isn't the county's fault and they had almost no role in this.

Why?

Because under the Texas Constitution counties are the weakest form of government.

And because the Commissioners Court does not appoint the board members of the Children's Hospital.

And because they only appoint members to the UMC Board and have no power to remove them or tell them what to do (which has been an issue for the county for quite some time).

The only member of commissioners court that was a) on the court at that time and b) publicly supportive of the Children's Hospital is Escobar. None of the other members of the court were there yet.

The board members at Children's Hospital are made up of their own membership. The county doesn't appoint those people.

That is probably why each member of the court was so publicly critical of what the Children's Hospital did because the CH was still allegedly negotiating a partnership with UMC and that was likely what they were hearing in their executive session briefings.

Now if you want to place "blame" on Escobar because she publicly supported the creation of the Children's Hospital, that is up to you. But then you have to blame yourself for everything someone you voted for does something you don't like too. Just because she supported the creation of the Children's Hospital doesn't mean she is responsible for what a different board does several years later when they have multiple options on the table.

That would be like blaming Hector Montes because Larry Medina pleaded guilty to public corruption charges. Hector Montes was once is campaign manager. By that logic you'd have to partially blame Montes. Does that make any sense? Of course not.

The way I look at it, the CH entered agreements with UMC. They stopped paying UMC a long time ago and began racking up a huge bill. Had you not paid your bills for that long you would've gotten kicked out, and the lights and water cut off.

If CH is disputing what they owe, why didn't they take it up with UMC a long time ago instead of just not paying them?

And by them, I mean us because UMC is a taxing entity.

Bottom line is this. The county doesn't have authority over the CH board. The county only appoints the members of the UMC board but they aren't obligated to listen to or cooperate with commissioner's court. UMC board members and CH board members are not elected and are not directly accountable to tax payers.

The CH voted in February to pursue bankruptcy and all the while was giving the indication to the court that they were negotiating with CH in good faith.

Except they really weren't.

Road Rage in Socorro

I hate when people take advantage of the poor. It bothers me to no end. It's like bullying someone who can't fight back.

So when I see it, I want to do something about it. 

It's happening in Socorro...again. 

I'm acquiring more documents and maps but let me tell you what I've uncovered so far.

At least one city rep has been directing a particular staff member to push through road paving projects in what is alleged to be a personal benefit to himself.

This is similar to the movida Jesse Gandara pulled when he was in office where he and his supporters allegedly received driveways before other constituents.

The City of Socorro has been working on improving their infrastructure under the direction of Mayor Jesus Ruiz, Councilman at Large Rene Rodriguez, and Councilwoman Gloria Rodriguez. Under the previous Gandara administration they were focused on putting a ton of money into big parks, but hadn't taken care of the necessities first. So this administration has been working on the infrastructure. Not the most politically popular thing to do because people just bitch and moan about traffic during construction.

The Public Works Department for the City of Socorro has done about 30 streets so far during this years paving plan.

One city rep, Sergio Cox, has pushed through two paving projects that directly benefit property he owns.

Generally the way the streets are prioritized for paving in the county and other municipalities is based on the wear and tear of the street and the amount of traffic on the street. The streets with more traffic and in poorer condition are allocated the funds as a priority.

For example, if you want a street paved that isn't paved, generally what happens is a traffic study is done. A sensor is placed in the ground for a period of time to establish how much traffic flows through a given area over a period of time. That data is collected and analyzed to determine the cost-benefit of investing public resources into a paving project. So obviously the streets with more traffic have a greater need for paving. The streets with very little traffic, well there just isn't the public need to pave an area that gets little traffic.

BTW, if you're wondering about the conditions of the major roads in Socorro, most of them are state roads and belong to TxDOT.

But incredibly, one road that was pushed by Sergio Cox has only TWO properties on the road. It is going to be paved and provided an outlet that was basically just a make shift dirt road outlet previously.

What is the public benefit of paving a road with only TWO properties that front the road? Why the necessity to push the project through? Because Sergio Cox is one of the two property owners on that street.

Fray Olguin is a road that has several properties on it that has absolutely no paving on it. Its a dirt road and all the other roads around it are paved and when it rains, that road is in terrible condition for the residents. The city is trying to acquire some right-of-way to pave it, but it underscores the fact that there is real need in that community, but a road with only two properties on it, one of which is owned by a council member, represents that not only are there misplaced priorities, but real institutional reform needs to take place in order to prevent that kind of crap.

I'll post maps and some very interesting email exchanges on all of this soon. But someone needs to be asking some questions on behalf of the community. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

You Know What Would Could Provide Tax Payers Some Relief?

The Children's Hospital stuff has us all talking about relief for tax payers. 

Well here's something that could capture some money for the county...have the Justices of the Peace fork over some of the revenue they make off of performing weddings.

Talk about a racket! The JPs are only able to perform the weddings in the first place because of their positions with the county. And trust me, they make a LOT of money off of it.

It's so lucrative that the former JP Barbara Perez started a business marrying people after she was recently defeated. It's not hard, if you recall I became an ordained minister a few years ago. That reminds me, you people are supposed to refer to me as Reverend LionStar. Or was it Bishop? I forget. But I also became a Jedi Knight through the same website.

Anywho, the JPs make a chingo of feria off of it and we tax payers don't see a dime of it. They use our resources to do it too. 

In fact, I'll bet they don't even track how many they do or how much they make off of it so it would be hard to even submit an open records request for the info. But they have to file personal financial statements so maybe that info is there. Or it should be anyway. Hmm, that sounds like something someone should look into.

At any rate, it would likely be a good chunk of change. At least one of the JPs that does it even has a little set-up for photo ops of the special occasion. 

I wonder how much revenue that would be for the County tax payers?


El Paso GOP Taps New Chair

The El Paso GOP has a new Chairman. Here are the details.


Tejano Tornado

The Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats are in a flat-out tail spin at this moment.

Barring someone drafting a candidate to run against him like Yolie Clay or Frank Ortiz, Eddie Holguin will likely be the next chair of the organization.

To make things more complicated, Chris Acosta is likely to be a Vice Chair. She turned their biggest fundraiser of the year into a money-loser for the organization. It was a huge flop.

Chris Acosta has been controversial in her role with several campaigns because she's closely tied to Sheriff Wiles. While working as one of his key staffers, Acosta was a figure in several campaigns including Oscar Leeser, Eddie Holguin, and Aliana Apodaca. Many were critical of the fact that she played that role in campaigns that were against some of Wiles' allies.

So rather than having leadership that would appeal to a wider base, the Tejanos are going to be stuck with leadership what appeals to a ever-smaller group of people that are the remnants of the old faction wars.

That is in no way a benefit to the Tejanos. Their club is literally ageing by the day. They have done absolutely zero to include or recruit newer and younger membership. They have become synonymous with controversy and in-fighting and this new likely leadership does nothing to improve that situation.

The reality is that the organizations within the Party that are the ones that are expanding and gaining credibility are the ones that are tied to geographic areas, not color. Black and brown dems' influence is being replaced by East and West Dems. Westside Dems is the organization in town that seems to be the most active and least drama-filled. That appears to be the new model for the Party, but it needs to be duplicated in other parts of town.

A Storm is Coming

Video of an active duty soldier who suffers from PTSD who eventually died while in custody of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office is on the KFOX website. You can see it here.

It is going to be a big political storm for El Paso and for the Sheriff. The video is already showing up on Fox News but it will likely be a national story very soon.

Nothing underscores the need for more investment in mental health services.

First, lets just rip off the band aid and be straight up about why this is going to be a big deal. It is yet another African American man that has died allegedly because of an incident with law enforcement.

He was active duty military. He was not arrested on a violent offense. He turned himself in to the SO's to do a weekend sentence.

For whatever reason, possibly having to do with PTSD, SGT James Brown, injured himself. An extraction team went in to remove him from his cell. The video shows the incident.

I'm not offering commentary on how the SO's proceeded. I don't know enough about the process to offer any commentary on that, so this post isn't me saying the SO's were right or wrong. I don't know if they were.

All I am saying is that this is going to be a story that catches on and will have El Paso in the headlines in a very negative way. It is going to be a pressure cooker for the Sheriff because of the circumstances of the incident.

Trust me on this one.

Children's Hospital Out to Screw Tax Payers (Editorial)

Divorce yourself from what the Children's Hospital does for a moment and look rationally at the actions of the CH board.

They screwed you and they apparently meant to all along.

Months ago the passed a resolution authorizing the pursuit of bankruptcy all the while negotiating with the UMC Board like they were going to have some kind of payment system worked out in the end. The bottom line is, they weren't negotiating in good faith.

When you think about it, why would the CH board even care? They aren't accountable to the tax payers because they are not elected by the people nor are they appointed by a governing body. The UMC board is also not directly accountable to the tax payers. They are appointed by the members of commissioners court, but once they are on the UMC board, they can basically do whatever the hell they want and really can't be removed.

So you have two entities who have zero direct accountability to the people who are playing with a ton of tax payer monopoly money.

And we are shocked by what they did?

The CH doesn't even list UMC as a creditor. They have them listed as someone to go into mediation with. Do you know what that means? It means that they want to pay less than what they owe, thats why they want to go into mediation. No one goes into mediation because they want to pay the full amount. The CH owes the tax payers a big chunk of money and rather than work out a system where they work more closely with UMC, and organization that at least has somewhat more accountability, in order for the tax payers to be made whole again, they want to go into mediation so that they can find a way to pay us less than what they owe us.

Forget all the legalese, that is essentially is what is going on here.

All so that they can stay "independent". Look at how well they are doing acting independently thus far...

Children's Hospital had other options. They are the bad guys here and if you don't understand that you not only haven't been paying attention but you probably don't understand the role of the three bodies involved here.

Now I know the other side of the coin is to say we never should've done this at all, "I knew it was going to fail", etc, etc. Maybe that is true, that really isn't the point. The point is that the CH board had other options and chose the option that screws the tax payers the most. They didn't negotiate in good faith.

However there doesn't seem to be a mechanism to hold them accountable for this course of action.

The peoples' voice in all of this is the County and they have little to almost no say-so in how this is going to play out at this point. This all appears to be in the hands of a judge and two un-elected bodies.

Interestingly the reaction from local elected officials that was outlined in the El Paso Times is actually pretty revealing. The state delegation all made very general statements that really didn't say much. Except State Rep Marquez who broke ranks from all the other elected officials and went so far as to say that CH had "very competent hands".





But the County elected officials, each of them, sounded like they were furious. I think the reason the County elected officials are furious and why they have such a sharper tone than the state delegation is because updates on the CH issue have pretty much been a standing issue in their executive session agenda items for months. So for months they have been getting updates on the situation and based on the tone of their remarks, this move caught everyone by surprise.

Obviously they are pretty angry at Children's. And you should be too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When a Non-Story is Used for Political Purposes

There was a story in the El Paso Times over the weekend that I couldn't figure out how it made it to print.

The story was written by Diana Washington-Valdez and I attempted to reach her for comment but she did not return my email. I'll get to that part in a bit.

Word on the street is that Al Weisenberger allegedly pitched a story about an alleged campaign finance violation by his opponent in the District 1 run-off Peter Svarzbein to Washington-Valdez.

Washington-Valdez called me not so long ago trying to fish for a quote to build a story around. There was no story, but she really wanted to see if I'd give her something to write about. Nice try, I'm not stupid. I have the emails and I'll post them if necessary to prove my point. It irritated me because that's bush league shit and she was freaking rude. I don't play that shit. Reporters don't scare me. 

Anywho, Washington-Valdez did this story and it was focused on the candidates allegedly trading accusations about wrong-doing in their finance reports. 

At first I was a little surprised that Weisenberger would want to make a thing about finance reports considering how incredibly inept he appears to be about filing pretty simple documents. Seriously, the number of mistakes he has made in his finance reporting has reached punchline level status.

Underscore that with the fact that he's an attorney and it makes his blunders look even worse. But then I realized why he pitched the story. And frankly it makes a lot of sense. He and his boys from Forma know that in a run-off you go balls to the wall. So it makes sense to try to pitch a negative story, find a nice bad quote from the story and slap it on a piece of mail and use the fact that it was in the El Paso Times to add credibility to the negative statement.

David K has been all over this since day one. That's been his main negative push against Svarzbein. After reading Washington-Valdez's piece I read a lot of innuendo and allegations. But it was missing something that was never really stated in the article other than alluded to in a quote from Svarzbein.

What I didn't see in the article about alleged ethical violations was whether or not there was actually a violation alleged with the Texas Ethics Commission. 

Here's her paragraph I'm speaking about:



....sooooo....was there actually a complaint filed about the allegations from Weisenberger? Because if there wasn't, what is the story?

Whenever someone pitches me something I always ask myself what's their angle? What is in it for them? Because people don't do stuff for no reason. So I'd ask myself, why is this guy pitching me a story about an alleged ethics violation without telling me if he filed a complaint? And if he didn't file a complaint, why wouldn't he if he was an attorney and felt so strongly about it? 

So I actually called the Ethics Commission to find out. They said that they could neither confirm, nor deny whether an allegation has been filed to anyone other than the party. So I checked with the Svarzbein campaign and no complaint has been filed.

So where is the story?

Blogworthy? Sure.

Printed story in the newspaper of record?

You decide.

Again, I emailed Washington-Valdez to ask her if she actually attempted to reach the Ethics Commission to find out if a violation was alleged and she has not responded. But hey, I don't blame her for ignoring me, I'm just a blogger.

When I spoke to the Ethics commission and gave them the scenario of the alleged violation they indicated that it didn't sound like there was a violation but they only agreed to speak in very general terms and wouldn't get into specifics.

Perez Statement on Children's Hospital Bankruptcy

Commissioner Vince Perez had some strong opinions about the filing of bankruptcy protection by the El Paso Children's Hospital.

This will be the big story of the day.

Here's what he had to say:

“Today’s reckless decision by the El Paso Children’s Hospital board is a slap in the face to all El Paso County taxpayers who have been financially supporting the children’s hospital for months by providing critical services to help keep the hospital open.

“Taxpayers (through UMC) were the largest financial supporters of the children’s hospital. Yet, the fact that the EPCH board did not even list UMC among those entities that are owed funds (in today's bankruptcy filing) further demonstrates their irresponsible disregard for the taxpayers of our community.”   


More to come.

Republicans Wrong on Fracking Ban Ban

Yet again the GOP in Texas shows that their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

The Texas Legislature passed a bill that would ban any bans on Fracking in Texas.

Forget their rhetoric about "smaller government" and "local control". That's their mantra especially when it comes to public education.

But apparently the GOP thinks it's knows what's best for local communities better than the people who live there.

Forget We The People. For the Texas GOP its Show Me The Money.

Monday, May 18, 2015

More on Martin "Fallas" Parades

I'm still having fun with the Flying Monkey Martin Paredes' little public fit about how nobody wanted to buy an ad from the discount bin of the blogosphere that is his blog. 

Normally I'm not a vato who likes to spike the ball. I prefer to act like it's not my first time in the endzone. But people like Fallas Paredes and Hector Montes of Munchkin Land are lenguas largas and when they get what's coming to them it's kinda fun to watch their reaction.

So first thing I want to say is "scoreboard mofo's". 

For all the crap you two talked about people advertising on my blog, they were successful. I'm sure that is a bitter pill to swallow. 

But here's another little treat for Fallas Paredes, who is convinced he gets a lot of traffic. It's also for all you dumb asses that think comments equate to traffic.

But let's whip it out and measure shall we?

Here's what a poll on the discount blog looks like:



And  here's what a poll on the L*B looks like:



Scoreboard Paredes.

Campaigns that advertised on the L*B that won or made a run-off: 3
Campaigns that advertised on the discount blog: 0

Votes on a poll run on the L*B: 238
Votes on a poll run on the discount blog: 3


Perez Office Hosts Seminars on CAD & Protest Process

COMMISSIONER PEREZ AND CENTRAL APPRAISAL DISTRICT TO HOST SERIES OF FREE SEMINARS FOR PUBLIC TOGETHER WITH LEADERS FROM EL PASO, HORIZON, SOCORRO AND SAN ELIZARIO 

CAD Staff will inform residents about their notice of appraised value, protest process, and other staff will be available to accept protests on site 


EL PASO, TX – County Commissioner Vince Perez and the Central Appraisal District will host a series of free seminars for the public together with representatives and mayors from El Paso, Horizon, Socorro, San Elizario, and Fabens.

Residents recently received their 2015 “Notice of Appraised Value” for their homes and other property, and have until June 1st to protest their appraised value if there is an error or if they believe (and have documentation or other material) to demonstrate that their property in valued incorrectly. Staff will also be onsite to accept written protests.

The seminars are free and open to the public and are intended to inform the public about their “Notice of Appraised Value” and to walk them through the process of protesting their valuation. 
CAD Seminars Dates and Times:
 
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm
Rio Vista Community Center in Socorro (901 N. Rio Vista Rd. 79927) – co-hosted with Socorro Mayor Jesus Ruiz, San Elizario Mayor Maya Sanchez and Socorro Representative-at-large Rene Rodriguez 

Saturday May 23, 2015 at 10 am
Horizon City Council Chambers (15001 Darrington Road, Horizon City) – co-hosted with Mayor Walter Miller 

Tuesday May 26, 2015 at 7 pm
El Paso County Rogelio Sanchez Road and Bridge Building in Fabens (1331 N. Fabens 79838) 

Thursday May 28, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Mission Valley Transfer Center

Hispanic Cultural Center Hispanics

So when the Hispanic Cultural Center became a thing, all kinds of "leaders" wanted to jump on board.

Two lobsters were really pissed because I was going to be on the committee. Those two big babies have basically contributed nothing to the process so far.

But here's what I'm wondering. For all of you that were all-of-a-sudden brown and proud, I have a question for you.

Where is your outrage on EPISD school board having only one Latino member? 

The answer? There is no outrage because that issue won't end up with your name on a plaque somewhere.

That's the difference between Hispanics and Chicanos.

In the words of Biggie, "if you don't know, now you know..."

Candidates Back Weisenberger; Svarzbein

Last week Peter Svarzbein scored the important endorsement from one of the candidates that didn't make the finals, Rick Bonart.

Bonart was the important endorsement because he's the candidate that had the most amount of support that didn't make the run-off. As a practical matter, the endorsements mean absolutely nothing because the race still goes down to turn-out.

But the two other candidates have also come out to support a candidate of their choice in the run-off.

Last-place candidate Daniel Lopez endorsed Al Weisenberger on social media. He gave a couple of reasons for supporting Weisenberger but interestingly one of them was "family values".

Manny Hinojosa says that he's supporting Svarzbein for the run-off and indicated that his primary reason for supporting Svarzbein was Weisenberger having a law practice and not being able to be a full-time representative for the District.

There has been no indication from Bertha Gallardo in terms of who, if anyone, she is supporting in the run-off.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Eddie Holguin to Run for Tejano Chair

In one of the most mind-blowing developments I can think of in recent years, former City Rep Eddie Holguin is running for Chair of the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats according to multiple sources.

Lets be real for a moment shall we? The Tejanos have suffered a credibility gap over the last few years mostly because of the antics of Blanche Darley. But at one point, the Tejanos were the flagship Democratic auxiliary in El Paso.

That seems like ancient history.

If Holguin runs for Tejanos it will likely not only kill any credibility the organization has left, but it will also further polarize the Democratic Party.



Holguin is just coming off of endorsing Mike Pickett for city council as you can see in this photo. (BTW, did anyone else notice that he tried to mislead voters by saying he's the Rep of District 6? He's not, he's the former rep)

Pickett got trounced by City Rep Ordaz but he also made some ethnically-charged statements that had any white person from the westside made, Holguin would've been all over them about.

Here's a link to the piece I wrote about the statements and the audio is included. If Tejano membership goes nuclear about comments made by Don Williams that they didn't like, then they should be going nuclear over these as well.

The fact that Holguin not only condoned those remarks but sent out this campaign literature AFTER the remarks were made public really puts the Tejanos in a very bad position. What kind of credibility will the organization have speaking up for Latino issues when their own presumed-Chair has condoned these types of remarks about raza and then goes on to ENDORSE they guy, over a Latina, AFTER the remarks were made public? Tejanos will have zero credibility on Latino issues.

And lets not forget something else, Tejanos are a partisan organization. Holguin endorsed a libertarian (Mike Pickett). Now his defense will be that it is a non-partisan race. And he's right, its a non-partisan race. But lets talk about the spirit of the Democratic Party. He endorsed a white libertarian over a Latina Democrat who worked for former Congressman Reyes and former Senator Shapleigh. Do those sound like the actions of a "good Democrat" to you?

And lets not forget who is top political advisor has been for years...another libertarian Jaime O. Perez.

The Tejanos will take a major hit with credibility if Holguin is elected.

I assumed someone like Frank Ortiz would be next in line to lead the Tejanos. The Tejanos sent a letter of support for his candidacy for Tax Assessor Collector that highlighted a range of qualities that frankly (pun intended) would've made him a leader for Tejanos with some credibility.

Frank is a guy that has credibility with organizations outside of Tejanos. He's known among the elected officials and more would inclined to come back if Frank were at the helm than Holguin.

But I'm not a member of the Tejanos, for reasons exactly like this latest episode in their novela, so I don't have a vote. It will be interesting to watch this develop.

New Poll - State Legislators

We are nearing the end of the session and I am working on a piece about who I think has been El Paso's best legislator. 

But I wanted to give you my readers a chance to weigh-in on who you think is the best one. 

Left side, bottom of the column. 

Limon Honors Reyes; Reyes Goes Out Amid Controversy

At her last YISD School Board Meeting as a Trustee, Marty Reyes had quite the pomp and circumstance planned.

City Rep Lily Limon, who doesn't even represent the same area as Marty Reyes, took it upon herself to honor Reyes.

Pretty sure come campaign season someone is going to remind voters that Limon honored someone who not only fought against transparency in an era following public corruption, but blew $50,000 of tax payer money to do it.

And ultimately Reyes went out the same way things have been for the last few years she's been on the Board, with a dis to teachers.

The current majority, who will be saying bye-bye pretty soon as a result of the recent elections, prevented Trustee Shane Haggerty from putting an item on the agenda honoring teachers for Teacher Appreciation.

Leave it to that board to pull something like that.

As a result, Mr. Haggerty had to take the rather extreme step of having to actually speak during public comment in order address the issue and honor the teachers. I can't begin to tell you how terrible a message that sends the teachers.

But I know what you're thinking. There's no way it could've been that bad. LionStar must be exaggerating or making the whole thing up.

Well, lets go to the video shall we?...



Go to the 29:00 of the meeting and you will see Trustee Haggerty have to go down to the public microphone from his seat at the dais to address the board.

An obvious embarrassment to the teachers of Ysleta that the board didn't even allow an item to recognize them to even be put on the agenda.

Thankfully for the community the antics of this current board are coming to an end with the swearing in of a new board. The current board likes to immediately go into executive session following the honoring of students, etc. Its an obvious tactic meant to discourage public participation by basically forcing people to wait around all night before they are able to address the board on a given issue. They are the only elected body I know of that does something like that.

Quick side note: When a campaign wins, everyone wants to take credit and defeat is well, as the old saying goes, an orphan. If there is one real winner in the YISD races its clearly Arlinda Valencia and the Ysleta Teachers Association. They did the campaign work to elect a board that is TEACHER-FRIENDLY. No one else should be taking credit for their work to change the face of an otherwise dysfunctional board.

They have now multiplied their influence as the voice of the faculty and staff of the district.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bonart Endorses Svarzbein

Former district one candidate, Rick Bonart has decided to endorse Peter's Svarzbein for the seat.

In an email sent to close supporters earlier today, Bonart expressed his support for Peter Svarzbein.

Here's the email: 




Screw It, I'll Say It

El Paso, one of the largest Latino-majority towns in America, with a population of over 80% raza, also has one of the largest school districts in Texas.

And their school board trustees are almost all white.

I think Al Velarde is the only Latino on the board now. If you didn't vote in the school board election, you don't get to bitch about how the board doesn't reflect your community.

The Board of Overlords didn't reflect El Paso either. They might as well have called it the Westsiders EPISD Board of Overlords. But this group was elected by the people.

Good thing organizations like the Tejano Democrats are so influential with Latino voters. That's sarcasm by the way.

That group is more concerned with fighting with each other or sending letters to commissioners court about how administrative positions need to be filled by raza while doing absolutely nothing for raza in this election cycle. I hope people will now stop looking to them like they do something for us.

Because they don't.

By the way, I'm not saying having an all white board is bad, I'm just saying you probably didn't even notice and if you didn't vote in that election you can't bitch about it. Those candidates were all funded by Creed and I warned you about it before the election. Some of the richest El Pasoans' money just put their folks on the board right under your noses.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gotta Hand it to Forma Group

You really gotta hand it to Forma Group. Those guys think of everything. They leave no stone unturned.

You'd think they might be embarrassed running a Latina candidate in the valley that had a 16-1 fundraising advantage and still found a way to lose.

Or dumping a candidate they had a contract with in favor of bigger bucks only to find out the candidate they dumped is now in the runoff against them. 

But no, the boys from Forma are diversified. They do it all. Consulting, messaging, mail, universe development, the whole nine yards. And now...

Women's wear.

I was checking out their website upon the advise if a friend and wouldn't ya know it, the guys have branched out into some other fields. 

Check it out:



The Other Mayoral Rumor

Look a lot can happen in a couple years and the political landscape may look very different between now and then. 

There's the Niland rumor about running for mayor but without a solid showing in the westside to propel her around the rest of town, it's difficult, through not impossible, to see her run. Winning is another thing. She'd have to actually block walk like crazy. Like a previous mayor did.

I wasn't joking when I said the Ordaz mayoral rumors would start. Young, educated, popular, and access to money...Just when Mayor Leeser thought he was gonna dodge a run from Niland, he may have to fend off challenges from opposite ends of town. But let's be real. Time is on Ordaz's side. When and if there's a mayoral bid, it will be on ground of her choosing.

Rep Acosta has been wanting a mayoral bid for some time and it will be interesting to see what that looks like in a couple years. The rumors have quieted but they may start to ramp up again.

And then there's the quiet rumor being whispered around town about a possible mayoral bid.

Ted Houghton.

Houghton is a Republican so the only thing he can realistically run for in town is County Commissioner on the westside or city council. 

I've now heard it several times that Houghton is considering a run for mayor and he's certainly got some strengths to work with like money and access to more money.

This is one to watch...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pickett VS Stickland

State Rep Joe Pickett (D- El Paso) and Tea Party Republican State Rep Jonathan Stickland of Bedford got into a pretty heated exchange on the house floor the other day during a house committee meeting on transportation oh which Rep Pickett is the chair.

Mr. Stickland was explaining his bill, which would get rid of red light cameras in Texas, when Stickland asked for the supporters of the bill to speak first. At that time Chairman Pickett picked up his cell phone and called to speak to a person who was signed up as a supporter of the bill. 

House rules require the person signed up to by physically present at the Capitol. Turns out, the person who's name was signed up to speak was not even in Austin at the time.

Chairman Pickett referred to people have been potentially "perjured" and the matter will face further investigation but make no mistake this was a serious violation of house rules. 

You can see the entire event transpire here starting about a minute and a half into the video. 

Pickett explained to Stickland that "you have broken the rules" and proceeded to kick Stickland out of the meeting after he refused to give up the microphone. 

The merits of the bill couldn't be debated because Rep Stickland allegedly circumvented the rules in order to further his own agenda. Stickland failed the supporters of the bill, the merits of the bill, and most importantly he failed the people of Texas by not respecting the process, the rules, and the decorum of the House.

Kudos to Chairman Pickett for protecting the integrity of the process. I'm not always a fan of his positions on issues because he's far too conservative for my tastes, but I'm glad he stood up for the people of Texas by defending the integrity of the process. 


Hypocrisy & The Flying Monkey

I'll make this one quick.

This is one of the most hypocritical things I've ever seen.

The very woman who made people in her shelter beg for cash in the streets has the nerve to say this:


The level of hypocrisy is off the charts.

She should be ashamed.

Now moving on to the Flying Monkey. Speaking of hypocrisy, a guy that has no campaign experience of any kind, lives thousands of miles away, spent zero time at the polls, and can't even vote himself is try to say he knows why Niland won by such a small margin?

Put the Pom-Poms down Fallas Paredes. Perhaps you and the other crazies should take a look around. Dagda lost.

Niland won. She's going to be there another four years. You guys might not want to be writing her political obituary yet.

The political landscape changes dramatically from year to year. Four years is a lifetime. 

Fallas Paredes' analysis is like that of a kindergarten student. He alleges that the fire fighters had nothing to do with Niland winning by such a small margin. Based on what facts?

He also is part of the little Hector Montes echo chamber that wants people to believe it was because of a grassroots effort. I assure you that neither Hector Montes not Fallas Paredes know what a grassroots operation even looks like. Paredes has zero campaign experience and Montes has never won a race.

A third of voters that went to the polls had no voter history. If they had no voter history, how would a campaign even know to touch them? How could they #1 predict they would come out and vote and #2 develop, and them implement a strategy to touch that voter?

The answer is simple if you'd ever been in a campaign before you silly ignorant monkey, you can't.

Niland put the issue on the ballot. The fire fighters were out to get her. How do I know? Because I, unlike Fallas Paredes, was in the field talking to voters. 

So as David K accurately points out, Dagda's fundraising deficit wasn't all that bad when you factor in the fire fighters.

It was a vote against Niland, not for Dagda. There's no way a serious union person ever votes for someone who is saying they are gonna cut taxes because salaries and jobs are the first things cut. 

Niland had no ground game. Zip, zero, nada. She pretty much campaigned by mail, rallies, and forums. 

The reason her colleagues win by huge margins is because each of them had block walking strategies in addition to strategic mail programs. That was the difference.

And frankly, Niland had the candidate that was the most-viable of the opposition candidates despite what others will try to feed you. They all started campaigning at the same time, which is last-minute. None of them had money, except Dagda. He raised the most of the opposition candidates. The only barriers he had was a thick accent, zero policy knowledge (which they worked on because he was a quick study) and the DUI thing. He wasn't seen as crazy or racist like his fellow opposition candidates were. He was the most viable of the opposition.

And she still won.

Was she damaged in the process? Sure she took a few licks and she won't be mayor now, but she still has four years on council and doesn't have to worry about reelection now. Do you really think she's done? 

If You Liked Beto on a Bus, You'll Love Beto on a Bike

Congressman Beto O'Rourke
Invites you to our Biking with Beto Town Hall

Saturday, May 16, 2015
Biking 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
Town Hall 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Downtown Artist and Farmers Market
117 Anthony St, El Paso, TX 79901
(Union Plaza Park)

The biking portion of the town hall is *optional*. If you will be biking, please be at the farmers market no later than 7:15 a.m. Please make sure to bring water, bike and safety gear if you will be biking.

*Note: There will be bicycle safety training, Tuesday May 12th 6:00 p.m.at Downtown Artist and Farmers Market
117 Anthony St, El Paso, TX 79901(Union Plaza Park). Please make sure to bring water, bike and safety gear.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sprinkles Are for Winners

Well lets get right to it shall we? The election was Saturday and there were some obvious winners and losers in this election cycle. The incumbents did as expected and all won. Two of them trounced their opponents. And now based on the performance in the election it wouldn't surprise me if the rumblings of Ordaz for Mayor started...

Obviously the headline is that Niland defeated her opponent by a margin that was far less comfortable for her than she would've liked. I look at that District 8 race as our version of the Tea Party Revolution a couple years ago where even a clown in duckie pj's won a congressional seat. Josh Dagda wore this years duckie pj's.

Lets tell the truth though about that race. There's a couple former westsiders (that now live out of town) that are likely reading this and I hope they finally get it, there is nothing unique about running a campaign on the westside. Its not "different". Ground games matter. Why do you think Dagda and Svarzbein both did so well? Its also the reason that the other two incumbents trounced their opponents.

Okay, ground game is partially the reason Dagda did well. Its mostly because of the fire fighters. So a couple of his field guys should put down the joint and realize that if the fire fighters weren't on the ballot, Niland would've creamed him.

As much as the crazies are celebrating their "moral victory" (thats the only thing you can celebrate when you lose), the reality is Niland was ripe for the picking and you guys didn't get the job done. Had you been running an Hispanic female, or a had Dagda used his whole name, the result might have been different. And Westsiders might be thinking this morning, "Dear Lord did we really just elect a guy who can't run a hot dog stand?"

Niland held her seat despite taking the brunt of the anti-incumbent sentiment from well-financed fire fighters. She basically had zero ground game. And he was running around pretending to be pro-union while talking about cutting taxes at the same time. Which means jobs would be lost or salaries cut at the city, which is a decidedly un-union position to take but no one called him out on it. Including Yours Truly. I pretty much left the kid alone on policy. Mostly because he had none. If I were Niland I would've sent a piece of mail about how his economic position would've affected union members to everyone who belongs to the fire fighter union.

But the reality for Niland is, say good bye to running for mayor. Not gonna happen. I have a hard time calling someone who won, a loser but the reality is her mayoral aspirations are done. She needed a big showing in that race in order to have the momentum to run citywide. The money and support aren't going to be there for her to run for mayor so she should focus on her work for District 8 at this point. And she should prepare for the reality that in four years there will likely be a Latina challenger. (UPDATE: I'm an idiot. She's term limited and the elections are moving to even years. Carry on.)

Now lets get to the sprinkles.

Who Gets Sprinkles?

Josh Dagda. you get sprinkles my friend. You took advantage of every opportunity in this race and that is exactly what you are supposed to do. Remember that in two years when you take another stab at it and run against Haggerty for County Commish on the Westside. Props for doing so well despite being outspent big time. Be graceful in defeat.

Fire Fighters, you guys get sprinkles too. Spent way too much money on a race that had no opposition, but hell, better to be safe than sorry. For the first time in a long time a campaign was successful at driving people to the polls that never voted before. They screwed with a lot of campaigns projections as a result.

Peter Svarzbein gets sprinkles. No one took him seriously and everyone blew him off. Now he's in a run-off and Weisenberger is in trouble. When you see a run-off happen, the person with the top number of votes isn't always the favorite. The reality is neither candidate got a majority of the votes. The newbies all voted in early voting, which left the regular voters on the table for Election Day and Svarzbein closed the gap on Weisenberger which means that he had a more effective GOTV plan. Run-offs are all about GOTV. If he can make his mail pieces more about the message and less about being cutsie, he's going to win. He's going to walk and he's going to have an organized GOTV effort. Forma is gonna urge Weisenberger to "sweep the leg" as they like to say and I'd expect mail from both camps to sharpen greatly.


Claudia Ordaz, home girl gets sprinkles and any other topping she wants. She dropped the hammer on her opponent and by far had the most effective campaign of anyone. Period. She raised a modest amount of money and didn't send one single negative mailer and still trounced her opponent. Its not only her second landslide victory, she actually extended her margin of victory from last July. If there should be buzz about anyone running for mayor at this point, I'll bet it starts with her soon. Young educated Latina who won reelection by breaking the 70% mark. Okay granted she was running against a candidate who was basically done nothing for El Paso and has been in El Paso less time than a bag of Sun Chips at a convenience store, but nonetheless he had a last name people are familiar with. And Eddie Holguin's endorsement. More on that later in the Biggest Loser section of this post. Seriously, even Batman and Captain America had a targeted message. Notice their strategic use of zip codes in their signs. Ordaz didn't lose a single precinct and in the valley she only had one precinct below 70%, which just missed the mark at 68%. Hell, one of her valley precincts came in at 90%. You know what Ordaz has that is better than sprinkles?

A mandate.

Mike Noe, that guy gets sprinkles too. He had a Latina female running against him and he handed out a trouncing as well. He probably would've been the headline had his neighbor to the south not put down the beating of a lifetime on Pickett. Both Ordaz and Noe benefited from having candidates that were ... uh ...eccentric. But Noe was facing a Latina that at least gave the impression that she had the capacity to raise some money. But just not savvy on policy. People have to stop running for office out of emotion. There's an intersection of timing and opportunity that people need to consider and Noe wiped out Cabrera (Arellano). B-T-Dubs...She's back to just Arellano already. I know, we all saw that coming.

Bonus sprinkles for Ordaz's team who are the MVP's for this election cycle. They implemented a ground strategy that not only shielded her from any anti-incumbency from the people coming out to support the fire fighters, but increased her margin of victory. She has the best messaging guy. She has the best field guy and hands down the best mail program as well. Limon is next door, she might want to start praying the rosary that she doesn't end up with an opponent or recall effort...

Bonus sprinkles also for Rookie of the Year goes to Alex Duran of Peter Svarzbein's campaign. Its one thing to be a field guy for a candidate with a lot of haters and take all the credit for what the fire fighters basically did for you, but its another thing to take a candidate who no one believed in to a run-off.

Upset of the Night Award is for Connie Woodruff and the Ysleta Teachers Association. They ran the table against the big fancy-schmancy consulting firm Forma Group. Woodruff, the incumbent, defeated a Latina female in the valley who had a 16-1 fundraising advantage over Woodruff. Paul Foster, Woody Hunt, Richard Castro, etc the list goes on. All those rich guys made it rain in that race and they got out-worked by some teachers who campaigned for Woodruff on their off time. Imagine if Dagda had those people running his field...But seriously, that is the biggest Forma Fail of the election cycle.

The Biggest Losers

Obviously the first people that come to mind are Hector Montes, Stephanie Townsend-Allala and Jaime O. Perez. None of their candidates won. Their message, even under the ideal circumstances for their candidates, still didn't resonate with voters.

It was an especially rough week from Townsend-Allala because she took a loss on Monday during Commissioner's Court as well with the passage of the Pre-Trial Office. He's an exchange between her and Commissioner Vince Perez.



The Kiss of Death Award goes to Eddie Holguin. Once again the former city rep backed a candidate that lost. At this point candidate should HOPE that Holguin doesn't endorse them. Its like making the cover of the next Madden game, always the kiss of death. For a candidate that says he's about the people and for a long time was one of the more high-profile Democrats in town, I can't understand why he backed a Libertarian, other than because his political Rasputin, JOP, is also a Libertarian. People in the Democratic Party need to seriously start asking Holguin the tough questions.

The Under-Performer Award goes to Bertha Gallardo's campaign team. Seriously, are you people kidding me? You have the only Hispanic female in the race (in El Paso) and still can't get her in a run-off? Jesus, what the hell? Her mail was awful and she didn't have much presence in the streets. I think as a candidate she had the goods. She was smart and likeable, other than a small meltdown over taking pictures at a televised debate. I think it was her team that failed her.

The Who Dun It Award goes to whoever was behind the push poll. It was a big time failure, but everyone still wants to know who was behind it.

Quick footnote: Two candidates that ran in the district 1 race did so with one arm tied behind their back. Daniel Lopez didn't take any money. It made it impossible for him to touch enough voters. He needed an experienced team and the right exposure. Money makes that happen. Nice guy and tons of policy knowledge. Manny Hinojosa, for as much as we disagree on policy, I like the guy. His politics just doesn't match this community. He shouldn't run anymore, but he shouldn't disengage entirely.