Friday, April 29, 2016

Video: The D2 Candidate Debate

Sorry it took so long, I guess it was my connection.

Any who, here's the debate video for the D2 candidates. The debate video of the other candidates will be posted soon. Sorry for the delay.

Its still processing, check back from time to time to see if its done.

Tax Assessor Collector Debate

The video is still loading. I don't know what the problem is but I've started it over a few times. But its over 50% now, so I'm hoping that by election day the damn thing might actually be done!

Here's my analysis of the Tax Assessor Collector Debate:

Ruben Gonzalez is essentially the incumbent and as such joins the District Attorney Jaime Esparza as the two incumbents in a run-off facing younger Latina candidates. And both incumbents have a path to victory which is remarkable considering incumbents in run-off elections lose.

SIDEBAR: I was able to actually find ONE instance of an incumbent in a run-off. Jaime Esparza's predecessor was in a run-off against Danny Anchondo way back when, and he pulled off a very close win. The campaign manager was then the First Assistant to the DA and is now, Judge Bill Moody.

Other than that, being in a run-off is a political death sentence for an incumbent. Interestingly both Gonzalez and Esparza each have a decent shot at fending off their challengers.

Although lets be real, Ballard Shapleigh is one of Esparza's top assistants and his brother Elliot damn sure didn't do him any favors the other day on KVIA.

It explains why Cain killed Abel I guess.

Any who, back to the Tax Assessor candidates.

Siria Rocha and Ruben Gonzalez don't like each other. Its not even a secret.

When the debate started Rocha came out gunning after Gonzalez and didn't let up until the end of their time on the stage. She had a pretty blistering attack on an expenditure that Gonzalez approved for covered parking at the Ascarate Annex.

To be fair, it was a project that was left over from his predecessor Victor Flores. Siria Rocha used to work for Victor Flores for a very short period, about 8 months or so.

But the bottom line is that Gonzalez has to won the project. He signed off on the damn thing.

Its $10,000 for a parking cover for four spots. So essentially is $10,000 of tax payer money so that he can park in the shade.

There's no real way around that and its a fair critique on the part of Rocha.

What isn't fair is for Rocha's campaign lit which is at the very least, extremely misleading, but at worst is a flat-out, bold-faced lie. And Rocha is kind of in the same situation as Gonzalez in that it was done by a subordinate, but ultimately she signed off on it.

Her campaign messaging guy, Ernesto Bustillos put together the lit and it says something along the lines of "Stop Tax Hikes". That gives the impression to the voter that the Tax Assessor Collector's Office actually has anything to do with tax increases.

It doesn't.

It might Bustillos' screw up, but she is the candidate and she approved it. Just like Gonzalez approved an expenditure of $10k so he can park in the shade.

Both candidates were asked about their respective screw ups during the debate and both candidates proceeded to make their situations much worse by refusing to own up to a mistake. And honestly I can't tell you who's answer was worse.

Gonzalez blames Shadeghazi on his predecessor and his former deputy. What he should've done is owned the mistake, acknowledge that he should've killed the project, but now only uses the parking as an incentive for high-performing employees. Or something along those lines.

People can forgive a screw up. We all do that. But people hate when you refuse to take responsibility for a screw up and pass the buck to someone else.

Rocha's tactic was different, don't pass the buck - stick to your guns and pretend your campaign lit lie isn't actually a lie. I know, it was a bad as it sounds.

When I asked her about the claim that her lit makes the implication that she can control tax hikes rather than acknowledge that her campaign guy screw up, she actually tried to stick to the narrative that she can control tax hikes.

If that office could, more people would know and care about the job. But they don't.

The Tax Assessor Collector does not have an impact on your taxes. She tried to make the argument that through controlling spending in her office, that she (indirectly?) has an impact on your taxes. Which sounds great, except that that is a lie too.

Department Heads don't set their own budget at the County. Their budget is set by Commissioner's Court. Every year the department heads present to the Court their budget and their requests for funding. You can guess how often a department head goes to the Court and says, Hey y'all, I don't need all this money you allocate to me for my office to do its job, please don't give me more and cut taxes. Okay? Thanks. 

Just doesn't happen. And the Tax Assessor Collector is not a policy making position, the Court is. Its just not accurate to imply that the Tax Assessor Collector can do a single thing about your tax bill. They can't and its dishonest to imply that they can.

I'm a veteran and even I am tired of the amount of focus the two of them put on their military service. You'd think being able to low crawl, pass a PT test, qualify with a weapon and go to BNCOC are a prerequisite for the office listening to their speeches.

Gonzalez was a combat vet in Vietnam. Rocha served a hitch in the Army as support personnel. Both of them have admirable service.

Can we move on to an actual issue related to the function of the office now?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

D2 Debate Analysis


Well for whatever reason, the 40+ minute segment of the District 2 debate held by the Progressive Democrats of El Paso is taking forever for me to upload to YouTube. I started loading that thing this morning and it still says it has 391 minutes today. Must be my connection.

In the meantime, here is some analysis of the debate.

I'll cut right to the chase, anyone who watched the debate knows that Jim Tolbert and Cemelli de Aztlán were head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates in terms of preparedness.

The big takeaway from the debate was how little most of the candidates for the office know about the job. Many of them had no clue about questions relating to issues before the city council now. Embarrassingly so.

So the quick rundown on the other candidates is that David Nevarez is a nice guy, but doesn't have the requisite knowledge of council or the job. You'd think he would because he's on a committee that he says he "founded". Not sure he can really say he "founded" the committee but he is at least a founding member.

But he doesn't know the first thing about the budget situation at city hall. Which was shocking. Neither did Dolores Baca. She's a very sweet lady and I think her heart is in the right place but she isn't prepared for the office. Gordon Thatcher is probably the most-ready of the second tier candidates but he seems geared to take on making cuts at the city but I don't think he understands the intricacies of city government. He mentioned praying a lot, but when I asked litmus questions like legalization of marijuana and continuing of domestic partner benefits, he said yes to both.

But he's never run before and he along with another candidate said he wasn't taking any campaign contributions. Which means they have no clue how to run a campaign and that is why they are second tier candidates.

So Tolbert V De Aztlán:

Lets start with CDA and her strengths. She's smart and presents well. She knows when to turn on the passion to drive home a point. Her presentation style and overall package as a candidate is something that could inspire voters. She's young, progressive and educated. She scored well when talking about connecting communities. She is extremely disciplined about staying on message.

Her weakness is substance and temperament. When you watch the video you'll see she's the only one that went up with a bunch of notes and props. Maybe that is because she's used to giving presentations and that is a comfort zone thing, but she comes off as very "scripted". That was the word used by some folks that attended the debate that I spoke with after.

That is her campaign team's issue. Being scripted is not the same thing as being prepared. And that was evident once you peeled back the layers of the soaring rhetoric. CDA had a strategy of sticking to a sweet spot of community advocacy and every chance she got, she was very disciplined about doing so, she would bring every question back to that message.

The problem is that it exposed a very big weakness - CDA doesn't do well when she's taken off script. And whats worse about it, her demeanor becomes pretty defensive when that is done. You'll see what I mean in the video, but there were times when asked a question, CDA would go off on soaring rhetoric that almost always included the word "community" and was punctuated by some cause or organization she was involved with. Again, very disciplined, but when cornered to answer a question or be specific, she either had no answers or because defensive.

Her team should have spent less time scripting her and more time preparing her.

The soaring rhetoric that lacked content reminded me of Hector H. Lopez's mayoral bid.

I could've framed the question about her lack of a voting record in a different way, but I read the questions as it was framed from a card submitted by an audience member which was framed in a more friendly way and it allowed her to say that she was apologetic about her lack of a voting record and then use voteria as a floatation device to escape the Titanic.

I can't help but wonder if the first time she was confronted about her voting record, rather lack thereof, would've been at the debate and not in a blog how she would've reacted.

But her team had time to script an answer. But frankly, as I mentioned, there isn't enough bullshit in all of Clint to really deal with the fact that she hasn't voted much.

She mentioned voteria - a program she is spearheading that attempts to increase voter participation - but I think that actually underscores just how bad her lack of a voting record really is. There is a big credibility deficit with the electorate when you are asking them to vote for you but you really haven't been an active participant in the voting process.

Here's a screenshot of her voting history. As you can see, not much to speak of.



But there is an even more interesting aspect of her voting history that one needs to consider. In her response to the lack of voting history, particularly never having voted in a single municipal election, CDA cited her work with voteria for the last year and a half.

Admirable work, but in that year and a half that she was doing voteria and not voting, she missed the following elections:

The Gubernatorial Elections
The EPISD Tax Ratification Election
Constitutional Amendments Election

And drum roll please....

The Fire Fighter Proposition Election

All elections matter and are important. But the fact that she's a parent with school-aged children, especially in light of the issues EPISD has been facing that appear to have targeted poor, Latino students, in the area she wants to represent, is pretty inexcusable.

But Joe Tellez needs to talk to his PAC board and ask them some serious questions. This is yet another screw up by a union.

In her closing remarks, Cemelli essentially used the time to list all the organizations and people that have endorsed her. One of them was the Fire Fighters.

It makes no sense to me that a union would endorse someone who we know with absolute certainty didn't vote in favor of their ballot item.

Big, big, big boo-boo.

CDA and I spoke after the debate and I asked her why her voting history is so bad and she mentioned being "turned-away" twice, but I'm not sure you can actually prove that. Although she later said she was turned away because she just simply didn't register to vote on time.

Another candidate was actually removed form the ballot earlier this year for that problem. So not being eligible to vote because you failed to register to vote on time isn't the same as being "turned-away". That answer is a little disingenuous.

She also indicate that she didn't vote because she was in Boston for school. Which spurred my follow up question of why didn't she vote absentee. She said she didn't know she could.

You're advocating for greater voter participation for a year and a half and you don't know registration deadlines or that you can vote absentee?

Tolbert on the other hand showed a depth of knowledge in his answers at the debate. He was clearly the candidate most-ready to step into the job. He has been getting some heat for an answer he gave about a livable wage at another forum, so I asked him about that and he was on record as stating he supports a $15/hr minimum wage and he alluded to the fact that he supported a presidential candidate that was pushing for the new figure.

Where other candidates danced around questions they didn't know the answer to, Tolbert gave straight common-sense answers that were concise and clear. No soaring rhetoric, no fluff, just answers to the questions.

Tolbert was "Mr. Nice Guy" most of the debate. It wasn't until his closing remarks that he showed a little teeth and went after his opponent, actually pointing at CDA and talking about having no municipal election voting history and CDA only living in the district for 1 year.

CDA clarified with me after the debate that she has actually lived in the district longer than a year, in fact several years, but many of those were when she was a minor.

Other than the fact that Dora Oaxaca attended the debate and ate food but didn't buy a food ticket, the only other real notable thing about the city council debate was CDA channeling her inner Jeb Bush. She kept asking the audience to clap for her.



Thats all for now, the video now says it has 334 minutes to go...

Dora Ate But Didn't Buy a Plate


At the Progressive Democrats of El Paso debate I was a little surprised to see Dora Oaxaca show up. 

But it's possible that she's working with a campaign. She obviously does a lot of campaign work. 

The event was also a fundraiser for the organization and plates of food were being sold for $10.

Keeping it classy in that special way that only Dora knows how to, she ate a plate of food without purchasing a ticket.

Which is weird considering she is paid by multiple members of council. 

Oh well, I'll take care of the meal, I wouldn't want none of the workers to get in trouble as a result. The mujer Obrera ladies work really hard, Theybshouldnt be shorted.






Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Big Debate Tonight

Probably the most meaningful debate for the District 2 candidates will be taking place tonight at Cafe Mayan at 6:00pm.

The candidates for the 8th Court of Appeals, Tax Assessor Collector, and District Attorney will also be participating.

The debate is being sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of El Paso and will feature a panel made up of local journalists.

Since early voting has already started, this may be the last big chance to see all the D2 candidates debate one another.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Well, At Least David K is Predictable

You'll have to pardon David K, he has this nasty habit of talking out of both sides of his mouth. 

First the Times endorsement doesn't matter because Tolbert had it and lost last time, but when you confront him about all the people who have won with the endorsement he changes the subject.

Yesterday he says I act like the world revolves around me, but he can't stop writing about me. 

Actually, look over the last year and you'll see he reacts to what I write regularly. 

But I digress. 

I was all set to write about how Ali Razavi's friends at Forma have no candidates in the run-off and they have no candidates in the D2 race either. Pretty surprising for the city's supposed elite political consulting firm.

But then all of a sudden I hear David L has now reversed himself within 24 hours and now thinks I'm running CDA's campaign.

I haven't seen a complete reversal from someone that fast since Rep Noe changed his tune from calling the street fiasco "corruption" to defending Romero. 

What David K doesn't tell you is the stake he has in local city politics, even though he pretends he doesn't have one.

I mean, you didn't think a guy who doesn't live here anymore writes about El Paso because he loves this town so much did you?

There's a reason he tries to push the narrative that everything is all hunky-dory with the city manager, everyone is going to get sued for saying anything bad about him, and that everyone really loves Tommy Gonzalez.

Word around the water cooler is that Gonzalez has been wanting to clean house in the City's Engineering Department. 

Obviously someone would really love to see that happen considering they have a contracting firm. 

It's the big elephant in the room. Maybe he should spend less time accusing me of meddling in the election considering only one of us really has motive and opportunity...

Mark my words, no matter what happens, David K is going to defend Tommy Gonzalez.

So for the record David K, not that facts matter to you, but I'm not involved in either campaign. In fact both campaigns are probably laughing at you right now.

I'll tell you this though, David K's right about one thing - CDA's voting record, if what he says is accurate, is a big problem for her. 

It'll interesting to see what kind of bullshit Ernesto Bustillos comes up with to explain it away. (Here's a secret Ernesto, there isn't enough bullshit in all of Clint.)

Truth is I haven't really poked around on any of the candidates in the race. Either of the top candidates would be a big improvement on Romero.

So what difference does it make which one wins?


So I Stopped By The Plazita...

I didn't want to go to the grand opening of the plazita because I didn't want to fall for the city's propaganda machine. I wanted to make up my own mind about the project.

So I waited until a workday, in the late afternoon after lunch time, at a time I expected to get an idea of what its like when it would most likely be deserted. 

Let's start with the obvious - the plazita is a hell of a lot cooler and nicer than it used to be. 

The Good:

The plazita is a meeting place again. Couples, families, people on their lunch breaks, tourists, and regular Paseños are all using the plazita again. In fact, I was surprised at how many people were there and how many went in and out.

The cafe is a cool addition. I saw someone complaining about the pricing but frankly its not really too expensive. Its probably on the lower-end in pricing when you compare it to other downtown eating options. 

Los Lagartos. I struggled with putting this in here for a few minutes. When you think about it, it was really shitty that we had animals in the plazita to begin with and we abused them. We meaning El Pasoans back then. People threw stuff at them and mistreated them. Frankly it was pretty shameful. But we aren't the only city to have done a knucklehead thing like that. The statue doesn't celebrate our stupidity and abuse of the animals. The statue is a great icon of El Paso - and give credit where it is due - kudos to Norma Chavez for leading the effort to save it.

This is the part were Miguel Juarez starts bitching about not getting credit for it. 

Any who, I like that there are more trees in the plazita now too. The canopy is nice and of course the chess tables, ping-pong tables, and horse shoe areas are cool. 

The Bad:

Who's bright idea was it to make it so much concrete. Jesus that sun reflects like crazy and makes it hot!

There is more green space...allegedly, but not really. Why? Because they have these damn electrical boxes everywhere. There isn't green space in the park that DOESN'T have these boxes. Whats the over-under before someone bites it on one of those? I'm guessing the first casualties will be a kid or the elderly. 



The name of the cafe is Rent-A-Chef. Seriously, you couldn't think of something better than that?

The fountain part looks cool, but you expect the water to do something. It doesn't. It just sits there. Nice breeding ground for the Zika Virus thought. Well done Rep Niland, put stagnant water in the middle of a gathering point for people. I'm sure that is going to work out great. 

The Obvious:

While the plazita is certainly a vast improvement over what it was, there are two truths about it.

#1 - Doesn't seem to be worth all the money that was spent on it. Its not like there were building a lot of structures there or anything. 

#2 - It damn sure wasn't worth the time it took to get done. This isn't a case of the city taking time to make sure the job was done right, this was just a poorly managed project. 

Overall

It cost too much and took too long. Like a bad fixer-upper. But, its a great addition to the downtown area. People genuinely like it, despite the hater-aide you hear from some people online. It will be a point of pride for people and is yet another cool addition to the downtown area. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

D2: Who is & Isn't With a Campaign These Days

This is a quick blurb that was inspired by a conversation I had with someone last night about District 2 and since early voting begins today, I thought it would be appropriate.

First in a campaign bombshell, Daniel Lopez (he's still fuming about coming in dead last in the District 1 race) has apparently left the campaign of David Nevarez.

Lopez as pretty tight with Nevarez and would follow him around and take pictures of him at city council meetings. Not sure what exactly the falling out was between them, but Lopez posted this social media update a while back:

I know right?! Major development!

Just kidding.

No one cares.

I just posted it because its pretty noteworthy when the only vocal supporter Nevarez had was a guy who came in last in another part of town, and now he has "resigned from the David Nevarez campaign".

First of all, I can't figure out which one of the two is the one who lost out here.

I mean on the one hand, Nevarez lost his biggest supporter. On the other hand, it was David Lopez.

Seriously, the guy got less votes than Manny Hinojosa and has been a card-carrying member of the crazies ever since his loss.

I don't think I've seen something that dark and bitter since the last time I drank a cup of coffee at the chow hall at Fort Bliss.

Not sure he lost an asset to the campaign.

But then again, he was his only real vocal supporter.

So that covers who is no longer with a campaign, lets talk about who is with a campaign in the D2 race.

Tolbert has Susie Byrd and Chris Hernandez. You all know Susie, but Chris is the field guy that ran Josh Dagda's campaign against Cortney Niland. So that is basically Jim Tolbert's team.

Susie Byrd (L) - Chris Hernandez (R)

Cemelli de Aztlán has Ernesto Bustillos and .... Josh Dagda. She has someone who is the campaign manager, but the campaign manager has never run, nor won a race.

Ernesto Bustillos (L) - Josh Dagda (R)

Actually, Josh Dagda hasn't either. Ernesto has been part of one winning team and has helped a few other campaigns out and is currently consulting for Siria Rocha's campaign as well.

I make this point because there has been some confusion about fundraising in this race. Jim Tolbert has a big lead in fundraising, but the reports make it look like no one else really raised or spent any money.

CDA has Dagda and Bustillos and Bustillos indicates they are not going to get paid but will be "in-kinding" their services to CDA. So I guess they are working for free.

But it still has to be reported. Sometimes candidates don't report stuff until the last report in order to hide all the resources they really have, which is funny because most candidates try to overstate what they have in the early parts of the campaign. I think legally though, they have to report the services as in-kind that were provided during the filing period.

Moot point for the first election though considering early voting has already started. Could be interesting when Tolbert and CDA are in a run-off.

Another Tantrum From David K

David K - who I’m rather enjoying having an absolute fit over anything I post on my blog or my social media - has shat himself again.

This time its because of who the El Paso Times endorsed for city council in District 2. Much like many of you, I figured it would’ve been Jim Tolbert. 

Let me stop for a minute and bring you all up to speed. David K is all in for Jim Tolbert. I don’t think even he would deny that. He’s a big Tolbert fan and he will likely add to the other City Reps that DK communicates with and then denies he communicates with them. 

Like I said, I’m as shocked as the rest of you that CDA got the endorsement. The cesspool that is the comment section is even funnier because its basically a bunch of white people who hide behind a screen name to talk crap about Mexicans - and now CDA.

Making this a race thing doesn’t help Tolbert. But DK doesn’t care, he’s just in the middle of another one of his famous tantrums. 

I’ll repeat what I said the other day - either candidate would make a great city rep for district 2. Both are smart and would do a great job. Not according to David K though. 

But let me clear up something David K is trying to feed you people that is compete bullshit - despite what he tells you, the Times’ endorsement matters.

I’m not sure on what planet he believes that the daily English-language publication isn’t a factor but it shows how disconnected with this town he’s become. First, who still reads newspapers?

Old people. The print version anyway.

Who votes at a higher rate?

Old people.

Who are more likely to be homeowners and therefore more dialed in to issues that affect taxes?

Old people. 

David K confuses what the purpose of the endorsement is with whether or not the candidate wins. 

Their job is to pick who they feel is the best candidate for the job, not the one they think is most likely to win. In an ideal world, the best candidate gets the endorsement and the win. But not always. 

There’s been times were I thought the editorial board got one wrong and I’ve mentioned it.

But I’ve never been dumb enough to say the Times’ endorsement doesn’t matter, because it absolutely does. 

Why?

Because of the fact that old people read it and old people are more likely to vote. If you don’t know that, then you’ve never knocked on a turf of likely voters. 

The truth is that the Times’ endorsement of Cemelli De Aztlán gives her legitimacy in groups that  either didn’t know her before or weren’t sure they were comfortable with her or not. 

Obviously any idea that there would be a candidate that emerges from this race without a run-off should be completely dead now. 

Its anyone’s race at this point and CDA is still severely hampered by her campaign team, but Stevie Wonder can see that she now has momentum. 

But how is she going to accomplish getting people to go BACK to the polls after this election, the run-off election fro the other races, and then their run-off. Her campaign team doesn’t have an answer that doesn’t sound like some hair-brained social media push. 

Tolbert is far from done and he still has the advantages of money, name ID, and the better field program but not getting this endorsement was a big blow. 

Also, if you haven’t read David K’s post about the endorsement there is something you should know. He believes ever single one those conspiracy theories he wrote about, otherwise he wouldn’t write them. He just wants to distance himself from his own crazy, which I guess only makes sense to him. 

One last thing, speaking of conspiracy theories…what is the over-under of how soon David K starts calling either Tolbert or CDA an “Ordazian”? I'm guessing if CDA wins it will be right away. If its Tolbert, I'm gonna guess he will wait until the first vote Tolbert takes that DK doesn't like. 


But more than likely, probably in about 3…2..1.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Socorro City Council Meeting Tonight

The investigation of embattled Socorro City Rep Sergio Cox by the City of Socorro has not been completed and will not be on the agenda tonight but its still likely that the issue will be raised and fireworks will go off.

Word around the Socorro Whataburger - basically the city hall annex of Socorro - is that some are expecting Cox to formally resign tonight.

Its not clear that a resignation on the part of Cox would have an impact on the ongoing investigation. Cox is being investigated for the method in which some roads in Socorro were paved. Cox has a financial interest in property on the corner of an intersection that was paved with public funds.

Here are two interviews I did with Mayor Ruiz and Councilman Gandara after the special city council meeting in which the city decided to go forward with an investigation into the matter.

The meeting will be at Socorro City Hall Chambers at 6pm this evening.



Elections & Run-Off Elections

The run-off election for the DA race, the Tax Assessor No One Gives a Shit Collector, and the 8th Court of Appeals election will be interesting for several reasons but one of them is because of the fact that there is a city election right before it.

I'll get to that in a minute.

The DA race and the Tax Assessor Collector race are interesting because they essentially feature incumbents in run-off elections against younger female challengers. As I have mentioned previously, incumbents in a run-off is generally a political death sentence. But inactivity on the part of their opponents, or at least not using the full run-off time effectively, has probably given the incumbents more of an opportunity than they probably otherwise would have had.

I couldn't find a single incumbent who was pulled into a run-off that actually won. If there is one, it damn sure isn't recent. But it looks like its not out of the realm of possibility if, and only if, the incumbents really push hard and make the right choices. The odds are against them, but if they make the right moves there is a path to victory for both of them.

Ruben Gonzalez deserves an honorable mention here. The fact that there was a run-off at all was pretty surprising. Two male opponents with the exact same name, on a down-ballot race for an office no one gives a shit about.

And not only did he make a run-off, but he is going into the run-off with the most votes. Run-off elections are about turn-out and you have to give the advantage to Ruben Gonzalez because of his campaign manager Mike Apodaca. Brilliant field performance. The expression in sports that "defense wins championships" could be converted in politics to "field wins elections" and Apodaca put together a good field strategy.

His signs however, suck. Seriously if there were an award for the Worst Quality Signs in the History of Anything Mike should win that one. El Paso spring weather is hard on campaign signs. Harder on them when you pick chaffa material. Come on Apodaca!

So then there's the D2 race, which was sandwiched between the primary and run-off elections. So in May, there will be two early voting periods and two election days for two different elections. Anyone doing field work in that area is going to confuse the crap out of voters. Its going to hurt turnout, but more so for the D2 candidates who will already be dealing with a small electorate.

And since there is going to be a run-off, and that will happen after the primary run-off, there will be an increase in voter confusion and a decrease in voter participation. So the person that goes into office for D2 isn't exactly going to go in with a mandate.

And finally - the race for 8th Court of Appeals. Its the most important election, but frankly the two candidates don't appear to be doing anything. If you've ever had kids you've probably had to deal with them being really noisy and annoying at some point. So you play the "Quiet Game" in order to get them to shut up for a while.

I think Ramirez and Palafox have their horns locked in the most epic round of the Quiet Game in the history of the game.

Seriously, one of you act like you want to win! That race is more boring than C-SPAN 2 or listening to jazz.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

D2: The Run-off Candidates

There are only two campaigns with a legit field program in the D2 race to replace Larry Romero. As a result, they are the two that will make it to the run-off.

Today is 4/20 so I don't blame you if you think any one of the candidates can win the city election without a run-off, because you'd have to be higher than Snoop Dogg on stage if you think there won't be a run-off.

The run-off is going to be between Jim Tolbert and Cemelli de Aztlan in case you haven't figured that out yet.

Sorry Nevarez, but Paredes put your business out there about the domestic violence stuff and no amount of explaining is going to help you get over that major hurdle. Remember, Peter Svarzbein is a city rep because another potential candidate, potential front-runner, had to drop out because of that issue.

Aside from that, your campaign manager is the guy who came in DEAD LAST in that race. He even got less votes than Manny Hinojosa. So Nevarez was doomed from the get-go. Nice guy, but just not a legit city rep candidate.

The other people running are people no one knows and with an election that has early voting starting any day now, there just isn't enough time to get people to know, let alone remember you.

So the race comes down to the two candidates that have name ID and a little bit of campaign cash. Both have their positives and both have their negatives.

Lets lay them out:

Jim Tolbert is a nice guy. Very well qualified and been the active voice for city and environmental issues in the area for many years. Voters turned him away once, but he's got a much higher profile now these days and he's positioned himself as the anti-Larry.

He's got a lot of advantages obviously and that is why he's the front-runner. He's had more of a dedication toward field work than the other candidates. That is a big advantage. He has more money, that is a big advantage. He has Susie Byrd running his campaign, that is a big advantage.

The vato has backbone and you have to admire that.

His one weakness is pretty glaring. Its why he lost last time and there is nothing he can do to fix it.

Jim Tolbert is white.

Yeah, I know, so is Susie. But Susie went to Austin. That area is key in that district and she had a great base of support there. That makes all the difference. Jim, not so much.

Expect Jim to go into the run-off with the most votes. But if he doesn't, he's toast.

Cemelli de Aztlan is more of a threat to win in this race than many of you might think. She's extremely intelligent and has an amazing personal story. She's been a community advocate for many years, though her issues weren't primarily about city-based stuff. But she is brilliant and articulate. Much better speaker than Tolbert.

Here's video of her speaking recently and frankly, she's impressive.



She's young, progressive, Latina, and bilingual. The big question is can she get the money necessary to win. She even has a pretty big endorsement from Carmen Rodriguez.

CDA has street cred in addition to a great background in academics and activism.

Her biggest drawback, which is something that is a strength for Tolbert, is her team. It hangs like a boat-anchor around her neck. They basically have never won an election and her message guy just screwed up royally on another campaign he's working on. But as a practical matter, she doesn't appear to have anyone around her who will help her avoid doing stuff like this:


Yes that is her.

Someone around her should've stopped her from doing the whole lucha libre mask thing. Being "en la lucha" is what she is known for, but wearing a mascara undercuts her credibility because there are large chunks of the electorate that don't know who she is. You don't really want to make that introduction wearing a mask. Unless she can get Jim to wear a cape and stretchy pants.

She went to Harvard for Pete's sake.

Truth be told, I'm pretty biased in this one. I like CDA's politics. She's consistently been a community advocate. Yes, the same can be said for Tolbert, but the causes I care more about are ones CDA has also been involved in. Farmworker rights, equality, fair wages, anti-wage theft, immigration reform, etc are all issues I know she's been involved with and I've seen her work.

Not taking anything away from Tolbert. He's a smart policy-oriented guy and I think he's one of the few people in town that was no problem telling the money guys were to stick it.

The reality is that unlike recent history, D2 has a chance to pick between a couple of really great candidates and either one would make a great city representative.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Personal Payback Politics

What happened today at city council is an example of why city government is dysfunctional. And keep score on this one because there will be a time to hold people accountable and this is one the electorate should pay attention to.

City Rep Michiel Noe removed a routine re-appointment to the city planning commission for what is essentially a little political payback. Although truth be told, he should be thanking the guy he just stabbed in the back today because he's the reason he still sits in his chair.

I'll get to that in a minute.

He started off by saying something along the lines of not to get political here which is a lot like when a white guy says I'm not a racists but... you just know something racist is going to follow. So you just knew Noe was about to get political.

But the bottom line here is that what went down in city hall today was the re-emergence of Gandara politics, this time at the city of El Paso. And people wonder why the city is dysfunctional?

Reps Noe, Acosta, and Niland all went on an attack against arguably the most qualified member of the CPC and it all comes down to one thing - political payback. That member is Jose Landeros.

And what, or whom, is the common denominator?

Dora Oaxaca.

Which is interesting that you don't hear of a bunch of personal problems and a confrontational culture at the county anymore, but you damn sure do now that Oaxaca is at the city.

But hell, maybe that is all just a coincidence.

Dora Oaxaca has worked for all three city reps. I even did an open records request asking for payment records to her but the city was unresponsive to my request. So its more than a little disingenuous of City Rep Acosta to be talking about disclosing payments made to a CPC member.

Pot, meet kettle.

Actually, while I'm at it, let me make a couple of other introductions.

City Rep Acosta, supported by City Rep Noe, appointed her own staffer's long-time partner/fiancee/significant other, to the very same board.

Noe one batted an eye. Rep Noe didn't complain. Rep Niland didn't complain. Barbara Carrasco didn't complain.

Dora's long-time whatever they are is a friend of mine I've known for years. His name is Jay Desai.

Jay is working on a degree, but like me, doesn't have one yet. Jay doesn't have any government experience either. Both Reps Acosta and Noe made point of how important of a committee the CPC is, yet the most remarkable thing about their comments today were what they weren't about.

Jose Landeros' qualifications. In fact, they all spoke about how intelligent Landeros is.

Landeros has a degree in Political Science from Texas A&M University. He has a Master's Degree in Public Administration with in Management & Development Planning from UT Arlington.

He was formerly the Program Coordinator for Community Scholars.

He is a policy advisor for County Commissioner Vince Perez. He is the Vice Chairman of the TPAC on the MPO.

He previously served as a Commissioner on the City Planning Commission as well. In short, he's more than qualified.

But did you hear a single peep from Reps Noe, Acosta, or Niland today about his qualifications?

No, you didn't. Essentially what they did was tell the constituents of El Paso that they aren't interested in having the most qualified members of our community making important decisions. They want people they can have influence over.

Like the significant other of their collective staffer. Who has worked on political campaigns like Norma Chavez, Marisa Marquez, and Dora Oaxaca.

And you know that that is?

Gandara politics at its best.

Dora Oaxaca was the staffer for convicted drug dealer Willie Gandara who once said "Dora Oaxaca is not my friend, she's my family."

And you wanna know who she helped put in office after she put Willie into office?

Thats right, Representative Michiel Noe.

So let me back up here since we are keeping score.

City Reps Noe and Acosta take issue with a member of the CPC that has run political campaigns but both just recently voted for a member of the CPC that has run political campaigns. The only difference is the one they voted for is the significant other of their staffer.

The one they voted against was the campaign manager of the man that ousted Dora Oaxaca.

Yeah, that is the REAL angle of all of this here. Dora is still pissed that she was beaten. She has wanted to be an elected official for a very long time. It was the culmination of all the political operations that she has been a part of over the years. She felt she was next in line to have the County Commissioner's seat.

And Landeros and Perez are are the reason she was rejected by voters. She's never gotten over that. She never will either. That is why it was her former candidate, Dr. Noe, that was the one who pulled the item off of the consent agenda.

And City Rep Cortney Niland has put herself in a spot because now people are going to scrutinize her appointments to committees. She appointed David Nevarez, now a city rep candidate for district 2, to a committee. He has a domestic violence rap he had to do community service for, but she fired her former staffer Jeremy Jordan for just getting arrested for domestic violence, not even a conviction.

Pot, meet kettle.

Obviously there is more to it for the reps as well. City Reps Noe and Acosta have a personal beef with Rep Ordaz. They were, and are, the biggest supporters of City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and of his raise of $61,000. They were, and are, the biggest supporters of City Rep Larry Romero.

Rep Ordaz has raised concerns about Gonzalez's performance and about Romero's pay.

So they have a track record of going after people who they consider close to Ordaz as part of their political ploys. Remember Acosta targeting me recently?

They are also upset about issues Ordaz raised with the MPO. Noe, Niland, and Acosta were members of the MPO. The city was screwing up to the tune of $60 million of your tax payer dollars. But in the typical City of El Paso stance, it wasn't their fault. No, it was the fault of the big, bad County of El Paso.

Noe, Acosta, and Niland are part of the no-accountability regime on council that wants to bury their head in the sand about REAL problems that existed at the city as it related to the MPO. And how dare the young Mexican girl from the valley have the nerve to raise concerns about an issue that was disproportionately affecting valley tax payers.

So those reps were pissed because they had egg on their face. So of course there has been an ax to grind against Ordaz.

Oaxaca has never gotten over losing to Vince Perez. Y para hechar la sal, Noe picked the guy who orchestrated her election downfall to run his campaign instead of using her again.

In one CPC vote they all had a chance at political payback and they took it.

As a community we should be offended that they chose Gandara-style politics over selecting the best and brightest to serve on committees.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Truth in Advertising

There is a major messaging screw-up in a campaign for an upcoming election.

I'm going to do the candidate a favor and not say who it is, but a consultant that was hired to help with messaging put out material that implied an office could stop tax hikes.

That office has ZERO to do with controlling tax hikes and that message is not only inaccurate, it looks like a deliberate attempt to be deceptive.

I'm confident that wasn't the intent of the candidate, which is why they aren't getting busted out in public.

But its probably the biggest screw up in a local campaign I've seen in a very long time.

The Larry Money & Tommy Boy

I'm absolutely certain this post will set off another one of David K's famous posts where he defends Larry Romero, pretends everyone in El Paso thinks the city manager is worth the money we are spending on him.

Then sprinkles in some conspiracy theories where everyone from the County Judge to Elmo from Sesame Street is an "Ordazian".

But I'm sure from where ever the Juicy One calls home these days that he has some reason to try to push the narrative that people are just out to get the city manager. But the El Paso Times ran a very interesting article about how at least three members of council wanted harsher sanctions against Gonzalez.

Unlike DK, their article is based on facts uncovered by an open records request. So lets have this conversation within the context of facts and not DK's knee-jerk responses to my social media commentary.

The term performance improvement plan as a specific implication which is why Gonzalez has pulled out all the stops to change what it is called. The fact that this seems to have happened unilaterally should concern council, but I think the mayor specifically.

Its borderline insubordinate but at the very least, in practical terms, undermines the mayors authority. The article underscores a litany of problems with the city manager. And lets dispense with the argument that this is an HR issue. The reality is that he is the ONE employee council over sees and therefore by definition has a different system for performance evaluation than anyone else. His contract and raise were a matter of public record.

Saying that council is just mad because Gonzalez did what he was told is completely divorced from reality.

Gonzalez's biggest supporters on council have been Representative Noe and Representative Acosta. They also happen to be the biggest supporters of Larry Romero.

One of Gonzalez former biggest supporters was City Rep Cortney Niland. Turns out two city reps on council actually wanted to go so far as to reverse his $61,000 raise - Niland and Limón.

So here is the point this builds to - whether its Gonzalez's raise or the salary Romero has been keeping - its not about the actual dollar amount. Its about the principle.

Romero, in an interview last week with KVIA gives probably the most indignant answer to keeping his salary despite the fact that he resigned by stating he'd return the money when other members of council return their salaries for meetings they have missed.

THAT IS COMPLETE BULLSHIT.

Enough of the whole "feel sorry for me because of my health" line now. Any goodwill he might have had with the public because of that is completely negated when you give an answer like that. Missing a meeting is a very different conversation than a guy who resigned because of his health, still works at his business, and takes a trip to see the Master's Tournament.

Its not about the dollar amount, its about telling the El Pasoan in District 2 that pays his salary to go fuck themselves. And make no mistake, that is exactly how it sounds to everyone else.

But kudos to Maria Garcia from KVIA for going to his office to try to get the interview.

Almost as bad as Romero's answer is Rep Noe's continued defense of Romero. Remember, this is the guy that went from calling the street thing "corruption" to saying there was no wrongdoing within 24 hours with no explanation whatsoever of such a complete 180-on the issue.

In the same story Garcia interviews Noe and he very smugly replies that Romero receiving the pay is because of the system that is in place and that if you don't like the system, change state law.

Council has the power to make sure he doesn't receive a check from taxpayers, you don't have to change any laws. Garcia should've called him out on that.

And all of this is completely over looks one really important point.

HE DOESN'T HAVE TO TAKE THE MONEY.

The fact that he does, irrespective of the amount, says more about Romero than the letter of reprimand that found that he did intact violate three items.

I personally am looking forward to watching how Romero's two big council supporters scramble to justify tax-payers giving him a salary now that we know there is a mechanism in which council can prevent him from getting free tax payer money.

One last thing, how come Noe had such a different take on this story when Darren Hunt did the story on Romero missing a meeting because of his health issues while he was in fact at the Master's Golf Tournament? In that story acknowledged he would have to rethink supporting Romero's paycheck. Now he's saying you have to change state law. You don't, but that is what he is saying.

Bottom line here is that Noe and Acosta are really hurting their own political clout and it doesn't seem to make sense why. Look, its okay in politics to acknowledge a mistake.

Ordaz has.

Niland has.

Sticking to your guns out of pride isn't strength, its a weakness. No one but Romero thinks its a good idea that he receives a paycheck after clearly sending the message that he doesn't intent to return to work. But then again, he's the vato that thinks its okay to pave an alley for political contributors.

And since when does an employee like Gonzalez get put on a performance improvement plan, and then change it to something else, and there be no ramification for that action?

Who does that?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Socorro's Cox Resigns, Offers a Deal to Council, Rescinds Resignation

In an all too familiar turn of events in Socorro, a member of council is under fire for conduct relating to expenditure of public funds and drama worthy of a sequel to the novela La Reina Del Sur breaks out.

Socorro District 1 City Rep Sergio Cox was the subject of a special meeting of the Socorro City Council last night to discuss moving forward with an investigation of Councilman Cox for the paving of a road on which he has a financial interest.

Its a sad commentary on our community that the two largest municipalities in the county each had a member of their council under fire for ethical charges at meetings last night. City Rep Larry Romero was the subject of a meeting of the Ethics Commission meeting last night in the City of El Paso at the very same time that Socorro was discussing Cox's issue.

Ironically Cox and Romero have quite a bit in common. Both reps were criticized for how roads in their districts were paved. Both have faced allegations that they had roads paved where they had ownership in residential properties.

The similarities don't stop there. Representative Cox, much like Romero, resigned from office citing health issues in the face of proceedings against them relating to ethical issues.

Cox however did the most Socorro thing in the history of Socorro. He resigned, attempted to make a deal to exchange his resignation for council dropping the investigation, and then rescinded his offer to resign once council voted to move forward with the investigation.

Yes, you read that correctly. In an open meeting Representative Cox appears to have offered to resign from council in exchange for council nixing an investigation against him.

He actually did it not once, not twice, but THREE times.

Here's the video of it. Its only 4 minutes.



Its really hard to watch this video and not feel like you're watching a sitting elected official essentially make an offer that many would say sounds like a bribe to his colleagues.

On three different occasions.

Joyce-Hating

A facebook conversation inspired me this morning.

Joyce Wilson is a magnet for criticism. And frankly, its often absolutely legitimate. I'm not one of the people that thinks she isn't competent. I think she's one of the smartest and most-competent professionals I've met.

But 90% of time she gets criticism its not for WHAT she does so much as HOW she does it. In case she hasn't gotten the memo, no one believes that she acted unilaterally in delaying the bond sales. A lot of people think she's just pulling an Oliver North.

And for the simple-minded card-carrying crazies like Hector Montes, Martin Paredes and others, that is all they really need to hate her.

However, for all the barking they do when they are trying to defend Larry Romero and Tommy Gonzalez, there's one thing they don't do.

They haven't filed an ethics complaint against her. Why? Because they like the character assassination part, but they don't want to actually get their hands dirty and do something about it.

And why should they when its so much easier to be a keyboard warrior and talk shit on Facebook about someone all day. I mean, God forbid you actually back up all that blow-hard rhetoric with actual effort to fix the problem right?

Look, I think Tolbert filing the ethics complaint was largely so that he could get a little attention. That was well-played by the way. But he had the courage to step forward with a specific allegation and use the existing mechanism to deal with the issue.

Come on Crazies...any one of you could've filed an ethics complaint. But none of you show the backbone that Tolbert did.

But boy, you sure are tough-guy know-it-alls on a keyboard posting when your on the can dropping a deuce.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More Troubles for Socorro's Cox?

I know, it sounds dirty. 

And politics can be dirty. 

And especially so in Soco-loco. 

It appears there may be issues with street lights that were installed by embattled city councilman Sergio Cox. 

Cox is already facing a special meeting tonight in which it's likely that the mayor and council will initiate an investigation of a street paving project he was involved in that just so happened to be on a street where Cox owns a home. 

And he didn't disclose that information to his colleagues on council.

And he didn't declare a conflict of interest and voted in favor of the project. 

In this article from a few years ago, Cox was the person who initiated the discretionary funds for city council districts when he was on council under a previous administration.



I wonder what a map of properties owned by Cox and installed street lights would look like? 

Socorro's special meeting is tonight at 6pm.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tommy's Troubles

To hear other parts of the blogosphere you'd think there are no problems with the city manager and everything is just hunky dory.

Obviously that is a complete false narrative. There's an ethics investigation that is on-going and there is the whole business of an improvement plan.

The reality is that a simple google search shows a pattern surrounding Gonzalez. The two articles in the Times today are an indicator that the city still has a long way to go to fixing a lot of the problems its facing. Frankly, we probably don't know the extent of the problems the city is facing at this point.

Obviously there are even more problems relating to transparency at the city and some members of council tried to trick the public into thinking cell phones during city council meetings were the issues the city has with transparency.

Trust me, they are much worse.

They have consistently failed at transparency and that one isn't Tommy's fault completely.

I'm sure you all remember the problems the city had with open records requests I sent in and the cold war redaction I received. Well bad news for the city, I'm going to pursue that issue further.

But that isn't even the event of their problems with transparency just with that one particular request. I sent in another request prior to that and the documents the city sent back weren't responsive. I will be pursuing that issue as well.

The public really doesn't have a grasp on the problems at the city yet. And that is just some of the good news the new city rep will be walking into...

D2: Clueless Candidates

I know that when I write D2 some of you get excited and are hoping for an Emilio Estevez cameo.

Okay, you don't. Except maybe Ali Razavi who probably gets wood when he thinks of Estevez taking him out on the ice and showing him his own special Flying V.

So whenever city council candidates run for office you have three types of candidates that run for office. You have Tier 1, Tier 2, and What-The-Fuck-Are-You-Thinking.

The top tier candidates are the candidates that most importantly, understand how city government is run and what they can, and cannot do in their capacity. They are typically well-funded and have a decent campaign mechanism.

The second-tier candidates are the people that have a good heart and the best of intentions, but seriously lack a basic understanding of what the job entails. And trust me, there are a lot of these types of candidates. They mean well, but they don't understand the basic tenants of the job description.

The other group are the fruits and nuts that decided to run. These people need no explanation or introduction. You know who they are.

The difference between the first tier and second tier might be a mile wide in terms of qualifications but only an inch deep in terms of support. But trust me - inches matter.

Okay, I didn't mean that they way it sounds, but hell it hold true that was as well.

If top tier candidates are defined by what they know of the office, then second tier candidates are defined by what they DON"T know of the office.

Here's what I mean.

When you base your candidacy on things you can't do as a city representative. This happened a while back with Hector H. Lopez ran for mayor. He had a lot of soaring rhetoric because he was pretty weak on policy.

So he said he was going to do stuff like focus city council on education. And that is the same thing happening in this election. Other than some small tangental elements of economic incentive agreements that almost never get included in the agreements for a reason, the city doesn't have a damn thing to do with education.

The city doesn't fund education. The city doesn't have anything to do with education. Hell, the city isn't even supposed to fund traffic control signs in front of schools. That is how little they have to do with education.

You want to shape education?

Run for state representative or state board of education. They have a lot to do with education.

This type of rhetoric is certainly rooted in the best of intentions, but sadly is more of an indicator of a lack of knowledge of the functions of the office.

But just for the sake of argument, say there was actually a role that city council did play in education. There isn't, but just for shits and giggles lets say their was. Has any city rep ever been elected on all the great things they are going to do for education?

Hell no.

Especially given the current climate of council any candidate that isn't dialed in to what is going on with council now, the issues they are facing, and public sentiment, candidates that focus on anything other than that demonstrate they are tone deaf to what is going on.

Is that someone you want to vote for? That is entirely up to you but it seems like you'd be better off voting for someone who knows the important stuff like city manager oversight, completion of the quality of life bond projects, being in touch with constituent services, and oh, I don't know...not paving allies of political donors in lieu of needed street repairs.

But hell, maybe thats just me.

Also, fun fact - in the Latino community, women are more likely to have achieved higher education and out earn their male counterparts. That is the only demographic where that statement is true on both accounts.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Socorro City Council Calls Special Meeting

Mayor Jesus Ruiz has called a Special Meeting of the Socorro City Council to discuss the pavement issue regarding City Representative Sergio Cox.

This was first reported last Friday in a segment on KTSM.

The controversy has arisen of a small portion of street paving on a street that has only two residents and has no outlet. Representative Cox owns property on the street and failed to disclose his ownership of the property to any of his colleagues when they were voting to approve the projects.

A source in Socorro city government indicates that is a violation of the city charter.

Mr. Cox not only failed to disclose that he owned property on the street, but he also failed to abstain from the vote. Cox voted in favor of his proposed street paving project.

In the interview on KTSM, Cox indicated that the property was his mothers. But according to CAD, the property now belongs to Councilman Cox and has for several years. Cox apparently pays the taxes on that property as well.

So by any definition, the house is his.

Cox also gave a strange answer about why he pushed to have it paved. He said that residents on the street, I presume both of them, have been paying taxes and deserved a rode out of fairness.

But that isn't how road paving projects are typically selected. Its usually based on a formula that takes into account public use, need, and amount of traffic. Over $14,000 of public dollars were used on the project that could've gone to streets that needed improvement that had a higher use of the public.

Although Cox argument is essentially moot when you consider that he had to - at a minimum - disclose that he owned the property. And its likely a conflict of interest for him to have voted on the project as well.

Socorro has had a long history of shenanigans when it comes to local pet projects. A few years ago driveways were installed in parts of Socorro and a forensic audit eventually showed that the council led by then-City Rep Jesse Gandara had installed driveways for constituents that voted regularly.

Council will apparently meet to initiate an investigation of the paving project.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Socorro Street Paving Project Draws Concern

Back when the City of El Paso was dealing with their street paving issues that came under scrutiny following some decisions by then-City Rep Larry Romero I made the point that it was so shady that a move like that wouldn't even happen in Socorro.

Turns out, I could be very, very wrong. 

In 2014 the Socorro City Council, through certificates of obligation, allocated $100,000 for paving projects per district for each of the 4 city council districts in the county's second-largest municipality. 

According to this email between then-Interim City Manager Adriana Rodarte and Douglas Lobdell, Public Works and Parks Director for the City of Socorro, the members of council had to submit the streets for payment overlay by April 27, 2014. 

The final plan was approved on May 1, 2014. 

This screenshot indicates the streets that were submitted by the various city representatives along with the costs for the pavement overall for the streets. 



I draw your attention to the area circled in blue which indicates the district requesting the overlays on the streets that are pointed to with the red arrow. The cost for the two streets is underlined in red, for a total of $14,627.66.

For context let me explain that paving of streets is a project that constituents in Socorro have wanted for quite some time. Socorro doesn't have the tax base of El Paso because they only have a population of about 32,000 people. A lot of roads haven't been paved over in decades and there are even a few roads that lead to a major arterial that until recently were dirt roads. 

Here is an arial view of the two streets in question from google maps. 


For context, the Livery Stable & Saloon that you see on the map fronts Horizon Boulevard. Its frequently used for political events in the valley by State Rep Mary Gonzalez and very famously by Dora Oaxaca and Willie Gandara. Oscar's barbershop is next door and that is where Chente Quintanilla, who was one of Oaxaca's opponents for county commissioner back in the day just happened to be getting his hair cut on the day of her announcement. He lives in Tornillo, about 20 miles away. 

Sorry, back to this post.

As you can see Vera and Joe Plise, the streets that were recommended for pavement by the District 1 representative intersect with one another. This arial was taken after the pavement project was completed.

But if you look closely, you will see a couple of things that are very interesting. First of all, you can see why the projects were done together and it makes sense. 


The next thing you'll notice is that Joe Plise doesn't go anywhere. The street has no outlet what so ever. You can tell from the arial, Joe Plise was until recently a dirt road. 

The way policy makers determine which streets get taken care of for pavement overlays is typically based on prioritized need. The more traffic on the street, the more likely it is to get pavement overlays, which makes sense right?

As you can see in the list above District 2 City Rep Gloria Rodriquez made her dollars stretch by thoughtfully coming up with the most streets that would benefit from pavement projects. 

This map shows streets like Jo, Supima, Sundan and others that need repairs but were passed up in favor of the paving of Vera & Joe Plise.

So what is so special about the corner of Vera & Joe Plise that it would warrant paving a dirt road that doesn't have an outlet to another street?

Well according to this email from Mario Benavidez, a code compliance officer for the City of Socorro to Sam Leony, Planning and Zoning Director, the house on the corner was issued a citation. Not normally a big deal right?

Except one thing - take note of who is said to be the owner of this property on the corner of Vera and Joe Plise?

The owner of the property, highlighted by the arrow, is a gentleman by the name of Sergio Cox. 

Who is that?

Well for those of you that aren't from Socorro I'll fill you in - Sergio Cox is a former El Paso police officer and CURRENT District 1 City Rep for Socorro.

Socorro City Rep (Dist. 1) Sergio Cox


Yes, you read that correctly. A sitting city representative appears to have submitted a street for pavement that was a dirt road and does not have a real public use. But the $14,627.66 of public dollars that were spent on the project will likely have one impact.

It will likely improve the value of the property owned by Mr. Cox.

When the streets were proposed and later when they were approved by council there was an opportunity for City Rep Cox to disclose that he was the owner of the property that would benefit from the pavement.

In fact, he had multiple opportunities to disclose that information.

And prior to the Public Works Director having had the project completed (on October 8th, 2014), city officials were made aware by the code compliance officer than Representative Cox was the owner of the property on that street in the email I referenced before about a code compliance violation.

Vera and Joe Plise streets were paved despite other streets nearby, as you can see in this map, having more traffic and connecting to major arterials like North Loop and Horizon, not being paved.



Socorro City Council has a regularly scheduled meeting this evening at 6:00pm.

Excused from Council Meetings Due to Health, Romero Pops Up in Interesting Place

This is the kind of thing that really bothers tax payers and infuriates the public.

City Rep Larry Romero resigned from council allegedly for health reasons earlier this year, prompting the tax payers to have to fund a special election to replace him.

Yet he's still receiving a paycheck courtesy of the working families of El Paso because of the Texas Hold-over clause. City Reps Ordaz and Limón have been wanting to end that practice. In fact, Romero's biggest allies on Council have been Reps Acosta and Noe - I know, shocker!

Rep Ordaz asked the city attorney about excusing his absences at a meeting awhile back and Acosta chimed in and said that Romero's absences should be excused because he's sick, citing the fact that she trusts Rep Noe's opinion on the matter because Noe's a doctor.

At a more recent meeting Ordaz asked the City Attorney to check the provisions of the law and the charter to see if there was a mechanism whereby Romero would at least stop getting paid for doing a job he isn't doing anymore due to his health...allegedly.

In this photo I was able to obtain, at the very time council was meeting and he was excused for not attending due to his health (allegedly), Romero is seen boarding a plane for Dallas toting a copy of the El Paso Times and possibly a National Geographic.



You'll note the date and time of the photo.

Ordaz was the only member of council to vote against excusing the absence of Tuesday's meeting.

So what was the plane trip for? To see a specialist? Perhaps an important meeting for his business that he still runs?

Negative Ghostrider.

He was apparently headed to the Master's Tournament according to a social media post I saw him tagged in this morning.


Mind you, he doesn't go to work for the people of District 2 anymore because of his health...allegedly, but here he is looking pretty good out on the fairway.



Obviously he has a right to vacation. He has a right to not go to work. No one expects him to be confined to a hospital bed while he convalesces.

But the vision is absolutely terrible. Families in El Paso working hard to make ends meet and they fund his paycheck. Meanwhile he's not on the job and is out on the fairway of the Master's Tournament.

The City Attorney has since come back to council with a method in which the absences will be taken up separately form the rest of the consent agenda and can be voted on by council separately. Then council will at least be on record of either supporting or not supporting the continuation of Romero getting paid by the taxpayers of El Paso. And council does have the authority to revoke his pay after three unexcused absences.

But here's a really important point to understand.

Romero - who is never available for comment from the media these days - doesn't HAVE to accept the pay. Anytime he wants to he can return the money. Or not accept it.

That doesn't take an act of council. But the fact that he still does, especially now that we know he's healthy enough to be at a hoighty-toighty golf tournament is unconscionable.

And so is council continuing to excuse his absences.

UPDATE: Romero's son has contacted me and indicates that the trip is for his 60th birthday, was a bucket-list type trip, and that he, not Larry, paid for the whole trip. He also indicates that Larry is having a difficult time walking the course and that he also paid for Larry's brother to attend as well to help him while traveling.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Simple Solution to Judge's Recusals

If you're like a lot of people you probably find it unconscionable that tax payers have to foot the bill to private lawyers to defend judges in recusal proceedings.

They make a ton of money and most of them seem to be determined to work as few hours as possible, so it's a bunch of crap that they don't come out of pocket to pay their own legal bills. Especially when they probably have a bunch of cases in front of them of people that somehow make to much money for indigent defense and have to come out of pocket for their own attorneys.

Legal bills can get pricey. And even if you are acquitted, there's no refund policy.

Now the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct says the Council of Judges shouldn't be paying for legal representation, and judges are divided on the issue. But this all comes down to politics. None of them want some wild allegation from someone like Theresa Caballero to end up as a public document and be used against them when it comes time to be re-elected to their cushy jobs they don't really work all that hard at.

The argument is that they shouldn't have to pay their own legal bills because they are conducting the duties of their office while a recusal is being sought.

So if that is the argument for why we have to foot their legal bills then this appears to have a very easy solution.

Let the judges use the County Attorney's Office. The County Attorney's office routinely acts as legal representation for County officials and staff that need legal representation as a result of conducting their official duties.

So that is a solution to the situation without increasing the burden on tax payers.

That or the judges can just decide to pay for their damn lawyers all on their own.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Conventions Feature SDEC Battles

Dr. Anna Perez (L) Lyda Ness-Garcia (R)
The convention of the Texas Democratic Party will feature match ups of political battles for the State Democratic Executive Committee Man and Woman.

The Hillary delegation has the most people and make up about 66% of the El Paso delegation. But the Hillary candidates for SDEC couldn't be more polarizing if they tried.

Othon Medina and Dr. Anna Perez are their candidates for the positions.

They will be facing Casey Antonio Williams and Lyda Ness-Garcia.

For some background, Othon Medina has a hard time getting along with people. He's constantly in some sort of dispute with someone and once had to be removed from a stage at a convention for his behavior. In fact, he's known across the state in Latino Democratic circles and its not in a good way. Its a terrible reflection on El Paso.

Dr. Anna Perez and Medina are a couple. She was at one point an interim superintendent at Ysleta ISD and currently sits on the Ysleta Education Foundation.  She's the current treasurer of the Tea-jano Democrats. She got some notoriety at the County Convention this year because she was attempting to fraudulently complete delegates for individuals that were not in attendance at the convention.

She was caught and the issue was raised to Party leadership and so she wasn't successful at getting those individuals in as delegates.

In the past Medina has been known to pay for the expenses of the trip to the convention for people that didn't have the means to attend in exchange for their support.

Its the ultimate pay-to-play scheme.

Noel Rosenbaum from the West El Paso Democrats was going to run but she has stepped back in favor of Ness-Garcia's bid.

Ness-Garcia has a lot of support from members of the Hillary delegation because she took on Marisa Marquez for the state rep seat and had a chance to get to know a lot of the people that are Hillary delegates. Being in a race with Marquez damn sure ain't easy and Ness-Garcia earned their respect for taking her on. Ness-Garcia is an attorney in private practice and Chair of the Progressive Democrats of El Paso.

Othon Medina (L) Antonio Williams (R)
Antonio Williams is a member of several Democratic organizations in town and was one of the founding members of the El Paso Young Stonewall Democrats. He is also an attorney in private practice and focuses on immigration law. He is considered one of the bright young minds of the Party.

So the race for SDEC is not only Old Guard versus Liberals - establishment versus "outsiders" - but its also old versus new. The El Paso Democratic Party has not been known for its ability to draw in new members nor for its organization.

SDEC's play a key role in representing El Paso to the rest of the state in the Democratic Party. Its time El Paso got passed the old way we have been defined - as cranky, obstinate, and backwards and continue the work that other SDEC's have started toward moving the community forward.

If you ask me, the difference in the candidates couldn't be more stark. Some want it just to have a title and a platform. Others like Lyda Ness-Garcia and Antonio Williams are workers.

And that is the difference.