Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Firth Things Firth: Legal Advice Questionable

With all the attention on Tommy Gonzalez at the city, I think a lot of people are missing some major issues with the city's lawyer, Sylvia Firth.

I realize that we are in Lent at all, but the Mayor's effort to pull a Pontius Pilot with Firth didn't go unnoticed. At the start of the meeting he engages in an effort to imply that Firth doesn't have the power to remove something from the agenda, namely Acosta and Oaxaca's punitive response to my open records request, and she deeply bellows into the microphone that she can't discriminate against any member of council that wants to put something on the agenda.

Uh, thats bullshit.

The attorney's job is to protect the legal position of the city and ensure council is complying with the law. That is her MAIN purpose for existing.

Lets press pause for a moment and rewind a bit.

Remember text-gate? Back them the rest of council was wanting to burn Ordaz at the stake for all the text messages that were released. Really they were just pissed that she showed you could actually RECOVER deleted texts which screwed up their long-standing culture of "read and delete".

Hell Niland even went on Buzz Adams on whined about why a rep would release all those texts.

Its simple, she didn't.

It was the City Attorney that released them.

Frankly I don't understand why no one called for her head back then. Think about it, she released texts that were not responsive to the request, and its my opinion only, that she did so in order to embarrass Ordaz.

So back then when it was against a member of council they didn't like, they wanted to be open and release shit even if it didn't have anything to do with request. But when I make an open records requests for THE SAME INFORMATION from another city representative, text messages having to do with city business, her office sends me a letter asking me to clarify if I meant text messages in the part of my request that reads the words, "text messages".

Yeah, that shit really happened. Here its, I bullshit you not.

Well no shit.

Okay, back to the last regular council meeting. This open records request is what led to Acosta and Oaxaca's ridiculous agenda item. But when the conversation on the agenda item started Acosta's presentation wasn't anything like the agenda item at all. It was substantively and substantially different. So much so that, rather than the city attorney who's job it is to prevent this kind of stuff in the first place, a member of council had to point out that they were discussing something that wasn't actually on the agenda.

They violated the Texas Open Meetings Act. And the El Paso Times rightfully called them out on it.

Right in front of the city attorney. And she didn't bat an eye. Rep Limón and the Mayor had to be the one to set everyone straight. What the hell do they have a city attorney for in the first place?

Now the city council waits until only one of the three members of council that are critical of the city manager was in attendance to completely change the performance improvement plan to this goals bullshit.

And of course, Noe, Svarzbein, Robinson, et all are unavailable for comment. Maybe Svarzbein had to talk to his mommy again.

What happened yesterday is absolutely awful, especially for a council that loves to wax poetic about transparency. They made a back-room deal and there is always a tell when they do something like this - they try to make the mayor be the only person from council to address the media.

Aren't these the same people that at the last meeting said they didn't want to sensor any member of council? What happened to that sentiment?

By any measure this drastic change from a performance improvement plan to a goals plan should've been done in the open, in public. The public should have had an opportunity to discuss the issue and they most certainly should've waited until all members of council were present, as they have done for other issues in the past.

This is why no one trusts city government.

The city attorney should not have let this happen.

By the way City of El Paso, tic-tock people. My open records request should've been responded to already...


Thomas said...

10 business days to tell you when they will respond, can be up to 35 business days if they push it to render or even longer if they ask the Texas AG's office for an opinion but they must inform you what they are going to do. Texas AG's office could take up to 65 business days.If you think they are in violation of Texas open records file a complaint with the county Attorney's office. Good luck there then it is how long the county Attorney's office sits on the complaint.

Unknown said...

Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Go Jaime GO! We are for Jaime the mighty mighty Jaime!