Saturday, February 27, 2016

What a DA Investigation Means for El Paso

Its strange that such an important - and overtly political - development such as the DA investigating the dealings at city came out on a Friday. But its a big story.

More importantly its a big deal and its going to impact City Hall.

Lets start with that the practical impact of a DA investigation means. The Texas Rangers will start a brand new investigation, its not going to be something that will just pick up where the Fischer report left off.

You're talking about the actual Texas Rangers, not the crappy baseball team.

They aren't going to come in and go through the motions of an investigation. They aren't going to just flip through someone else's investigation (especially considering it wasn't done by law enforcement to begin with) to come to their conclusion. They are going to have their own independent process that will make people more nervous than going through a teenaged boys bedroom with a black-light or your internet search history.

You're bound to find some nasty stuff.

They are going to be thorough. A lot of things will be scrutinized. Trust me, its going to be intense around city hall when all the guys that look like Walker, Texas Ranger show up.

Then after the findings, if any, they could convene a grand jury, issue subpoenas, depose witnesses, etc. Then possibly charges. In other words, expect this to be the San Jacinto Plaza of investigations. Who knows if anything actually ever comes out of it but one thing is for certain, it'll be awhile before this all finishes playing out.

Maybe by then both the Sports Park and San Jacinto might be open! Probably not, but I don't want to kill your dreams.

Council has been under turmoil for Gonzalez for what, the past 7 or 8 months so far? All of the developments that have come to light, the failures, the ineptitude, etc have been a black-eye for council, the city, and the region.

Jose Feliciano can see that City Council is pretty much the most universally reviled level of government in town. And that is saying something when you consider how much crap was going on at the County just a few years ago.

You know what else even he can see? That city council is spiraling into the next EPISD saga, but there's not Texas Secretary of City Councils to come in and bail them out. City council, and city council alone, are the only ones who can decide how this movie ends.

EPISD Board of Trustees refused to act on Dr. Garcia when they had the chance to. Because they were more paralyzed by a fight with the El Paso Times, the trustees were essentially asleep at the wheel while the feds had to come in and snatch Dr. Garcia.

Am I the only one that has noticed that Gonzalez is now the second high-profile administrative professional from DFW that came to El Paso and all hell broke loose? Sorry, I'm getting off track here.

Actually, now that I think about it, the County is the template of what could likely happen at the city level. The public corruption investigation literally took YEARS to play out. The shadow over the heads of so many elected officials loomed large and eventually ended a lot of careers. The body count was pretty damn high.

But more importantly for the people of El Paso, this casts a shadow over all the work at City Hall. El Paso doesn't need another black-eye like this. Who knows what unforeseen implications this will have on the community or business?

Hell, El Paso may end up being closed for business. David K has written previously about how city council shenanigans has stopped companies from coming to El Paso. If this investigation even ends up with the slightest whiff of "corruption" there is no telling what the impact will ultimately be on this community if the investigation ultimately finds there is a culture of corruption at city hall.

The longer it takes to deal with Gonzalez, the longer it will take to now deal with the questions on the ballpark. What implications will this have on other controversial projects such as the street cars and even the projects that still need financing like the arena and cultural center?

Voters supported the quality of life projects by a really big margin. They sent a message to leaders that they wanted to invest in this community to make it a better place. So these projects are not only important because of the fact that the people directed them to be done, but also because of the financial responsibility to voters. The longer the delay in these projects, the more it ultimately costs tax payers.

And delays on those projects are avoidable if the council can avoid getting caught in a quagmire.

Council should not be so worried about what the impact of the DA's investigation will be on their personal careers, they should be concerned about what impact it will have on the city of El Paso. Council should really evaluate its position and decide what, if anything they can do to improve their situation otherwise the city is going to be bogged down in a quagmire and nothing productive is going to be able to get done.

At some point, council needs to figure out what decisive action they can take and then do so.

No comments: