Friday, September 30, 2016

Fun With Pics

I saw a couple of signs that made me chuckle when I was downtown the other day. I took pics of them to save them for a rainy day.

Today happens to be a rainy day.

First up, this edit of the "El Paso" on the County building where people gather for jury duty. Its called Liberty Hall by the way.





















Someone REALLY didn't want to be on jury duty!

Also, it wasn't this lady that did it. She just happened to be walking across the frame.

Second...Ain't Nutin' But A G Thang...

Vato, you had ONE JOB!

Someone spelled the Senator's last name with a "q" instead of a "g". I don't know if they've noticed it, but for whatever reason, I found it hilarious.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Times Editorial Underscores Militarism of Buchino

The editorial in today's edition of the El Paso Times underscores a point I have been making about Republican candidate for Sheriff, Tom Buchino.

The editorial was about Crime Stats Again Puncture Border Myths and outlined the fact that while crime was up slightly nationwide, the areas that were consistently bucking that trend were urban areas along the border that have consistently seen drops in the rate of crime.

But you already knew that because you live in El Paso.

And that is really the point that I have been making about Buchino. Take a look at any of his social media, look him up on YouTube, etc and you will see that he clearly has an agenda of further militarizing the Sheriff's Department if elected.

In the words of Levar Burton, "But you don't have to take my word for it..." forget the dress-up or the time he actually fired a weapon in his video and just check out what Buchino says in his own words in any number of his campaign videos. Here's one good example (I'll get to the point about not asking a first responder what party they are later. Oh, and go ahead and ignore the weird thing about going behind a barn with his buddies out at the ranch, not sure where he was going with that).

Right around the 1:23 mark of the video he starts implying that El Paso County is dealing with all kinds of crime up to and including "international terrorism".



So here's a quick summary of the rhetoric he used just in this one video. He used the word terrorism or a variant of the word 6 times in a video that is under 3 minutes in length. 7 times if you count use of the word jihad. Here they are in the order he says them in the video.

International terrorism

Terrorism

Terrorism

Terrorist

Jihad

Terrorists

Terror cells

He even uses an image of a terrorist in another video. Don't believe me? Okay, have a gander:



Beer runs frequently make the news in El Paso because we are a safe community to raise a family in. But Buchino and his Trumpian ilk seem to be determined to push forward the myth that terrorism has ever been an issue on our southern border.

But the reality is not a single act of terrorism has ever originated from a border region and no one that has committed a terrorist act has ever come into the United States through our southern border.

Not ever.

Not once.

Look it up.

This is not the first time a Republican has been wrong about violence on the border. Remember Governor Perry saying that there were car bombs going off in downtown El Paso?

This portion of the editorial should serve as a warning to us when making decisions on whom to elect either for President of the United States or Sheriff of El Paso County.


Obviously as an El Pasoan it bothers me when people try to fabricate a false narrative about El Paso not being a safe community to meet their own political end.

Its no different than the false narrative Trump has pushed about our country being "in a war zone" or blacks and Latinos living in "hell".

Getting back to the idea that no one asks a first responder what their political party is... again Buchino is pulling a Trump. He's trying to act like a non-politician outsider while simultaneously being a politician.

I almost don't know where to start with the statement Buchino makes about not asking the political party of someone rendering aid - do I start with the fact that Ronald Reagan very famously told doctors about to operate on him that he hoped they were Republicans, or if I start with the fact that he's a candidate for office...in a partisan race?

Lets go with office. Its a silly statement that I have seen a lot of union members use to justify the fact that they are voting for a party who's expressed desire is to end unions.

Look, of course no one ever asks what the political party is of a fireman, police officer, or sheriff's deputy. I don't ask that of my barber, bartender, or waiter either for that matter. But you know what all  those jobs have in common?

You're hired for them.

You aren't elected for them. Guess what?

We elect our Sheriff.

So yes, as a practical matter, party affiliation does matter. And do you know why? Well, at least in part, because Buchino himself says so. He has talked regularly about wanting to debate the issues.

The fact that there are issues to debate is a product of the fact that the administration of that office inherently involves public policy. And public policy has everything to do with political philosophy.

And as I have said, Buchino has gotten a pass on policy. But someone should ask him a very simple question about policy and it would give voters valuable insight on what kind of sheriff he would be.

Journalists should ask him about law enforcement and the immigrant community. The voters have a right to know if he would do things differently than Wiles and if so, to what extent. Especially considering the fact that former Sheriff Leo Samaniego and Wiles had night and day relationships with the immigrant community. Buchino can't run around bragging that the Samaniego family is supporting him without having to answer if he will conduct immigrant check points like Samaniego did.

That is a real issue for this community and no one has asked him.

I for one, would love to see a debate. I would love to see what Buchino is like off script. I've love to hear his policy positions without reading it from cue cards in front of a camera like in his videos. Something tells me it will look a lot like Donald Trump...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Buchino Says Female Deputies "...will be working at Walmart"

For whatever reason Republican challenger for Sheriff of El Paso County, Tom Buchino has been getting a pass from media about his antics. As I've previously documented, much like Trump, Buchino's demeanor has been called into question.

And much like Trump, guys who spend a long time being in charge tend to be pretty cavalier about the things they say about women. During the debate the other night Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time listing all the sexist things Trump has said over the years and broke out a new one we hadn't heard before - an insult Trump made to a Latina beauty pageant winner by calling her Miss Housekeeping.

Which is why I'm glad people on social media like to tag me in stuff about Tom Buchino. I'm a Democrat and union supporter who believes that law enforcement should have a cooperative relationship with immigrant communities because it keeps us safer and I believe a sheriff should not be a hot head who loses his cool and punches people. So I'm not sure what makes them think I'd vote for Buchino, but it is what it is.

They recently tagged me in an article that came out in the El Paso, Inc. about both candidates and there was something really interesting in the article I didn't know about and probably wouldn't have seen had they not tagged me.

So thanks guys.

Oh, click here to read the article.

Turns out that Sheriff Wiles has been trying to make the department more diverse and if memory serves, I think he had to go to war in order to make changes so that more women would be allowed in the academy. We have opened up combat to women, so why not make our department look more like the community? Seems like something that should be praised.

But apparently Buchino takes issue with some efforts to include women, in particular Buchino was critical of extra firearms training for female detention officers so that they can qualify with their weapons and become deputies.

Strap in, because here's what Buchino said about that:


“When I hear that three female deputies took nine times to qualify with their sidearm before they got on the streets, I will tell you with Tom Buchino as your sheriff, they’ll be working at Walmart,” 

They'll be working at Walmart. These are duly qualified detention officers that happen to be women and as sheriff, rather than keeping them as detention officers, "they'll be working at Walmart."

First, I can't get my head around how a retired Green Beret and Sergeant Major (NCO's are charged with training soldiers by the way) would be against ANY effort to ensure employees have more training. Especially firearms training!

Seriously that guy loves to play dress up and shoot weapons so much its in his campaign videos!

And I know for a fact that there are males that take a ton of tries to qualify with their weapons too. Hell every deputy in the department knows that too. I've been a range NCOIC in the Army and I have seen a ton of soldiers have to have several extra hours and a ton of ammo in order to qualify with their weapons. Its not that they are bad soldiers, but its like any test. Sometimes they get anxiety, maybe they need glasses, or any other of a dozen good reasons. So its no surprise that detention officers, who don't carry a sidearm and almost never use one unless they are shooting for their leisure, might need some extra training to qualify with the weapon. 

Male and female. 

But Buchino didn't make the remark about male bolos (that is Army slang for a screw up or someone that fails) that need extra training. It was specifically female deputies. 

Now, I don't know what the female deputies in question make but if they became deputies, it was probably more than what is listed in the above image because that is what starting deputies make. These were detention officers, so they wouldn't be the starting rate. They would almost certainly be earning over $50,000 per year plus benefits. Thats a good wage in El Paso. Especially for women when you consider the national numbers that show women are paid less than their male counterparts. 

So by any measure, efforts to get more women into the department as deputies should be applauded. It defies logic that they would be criticized by anyone. 

It also defies logic that the candidate who runs around talking about being "backed by badges" clearly showed he doesn't mind sending female members of the department to work at Walmart for about 1/2 their pay because they need extra training. Buchino doesn't seem to be backing the badges that he says are backing him.

Should a deputy be able to hit the broad side of a barn with a pistol?

Of course, no shit. 

But males fail to qualify all the time. 

All you boys from the union reading this right now, stop and think how many times you or your buddies bolo'd at the range and had to have multiple tries. 

Speaking of the union, how the hell do they allow a comment from Buchino like that to be made without any response? You're supposed to advocate for officers and you allow that kind of rhetoric from your candidate? 

And yes, thats the dirty little secret that never is spoken about. When people talk about the fact that the union is endorsing Buchino, what isn't said, although Buchino alludes to it all the time, is that a member of the union recruited Buchino to run in the first place. 

And now that I think about it even more, Buchino should be all for extra training. Especially when you consider he doesn't have experience as a law enforcement officer. 

Lack of experience but general and non-specific criticism along with grandiose and braggadocious language...see why he reminds me of Trump?

I've seen a meme on social media about a sandwich that was named after Trump. Maybe a local coffee shop can name a cup of coffee after Donald and Tom.

They could call it a Trumpachino.

Over-bearing, costs too much, and goes down bitter. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why Aren't There Credible & Viable Latinos Running for Mayor of El Paso?

City Rep Emma Acosta announced her candidacy for mayor recently. Apparently on an internet local talk radio program.

I'm sure at least a dozen people caught the exiting announcement.

Acosta's non-surprise entry into the mayor race underscores something that I have noticed about the mayoral race so far - there really are no credible Latino candidates running for that office, which frankly is a shame considering the size and population make up of the city.

What is funny is that Acosta's announcement for mayor was not a surprise, but this is probably the first you're hearing of it. Proof of a botched roll-out.

So before you crazies get your panties in a twist, understand that the point I'm making is that it really is remarkable that a city as old as El Paso has been governed by a minority of the population for a really long time. And its raza who elects them, so its not like anyone is putting a gun to our heads to choose them.

But it is interesting isn't it?

Quite frankly, Acosta is well-positioned at this point. I mean the minute someone sends out a piece of mail that shows her voting record or any number of stories on her problems with transparency to the public, she's toast. But until then, she's got name ID, she's loaded and will probably have to spend a shit ton of her own money on the race, and she's an Hispanic female in a race dominated by old white Republican men and a young Republican Latino.

Yes Saucedo, for some reason is a trigger to my haters. You loud, but few crazies out there can build a statue to the guy and act like he's a viable candidate but come on, the guy has no political experience other than supporting a process that was not legal in order to get speed bumps on a road that isn't supposed to have them. You want to change that, then talk to your local state rep and get Texas to change the law.

But the hard part for Saucedo is being a Republican. Not just a Republican, a Santorum Republican. His values don't match El Paso.

So given the make-up of the field it looks like Acosta, at the moment, is better positioned than basically anyone in the field. The question is, will someone viable jump into this race. Generally the longer you wait, unless you have a chingo of name ID like an Oscar Leeser, the worse your chances are of winning. You basically handicap yourself by not giving yourself enough time while everyone else started early. Then again, this is El Paso and mayoral races have a way of bringing out the nutballs.

There is still PLENTY of time for someone credible to get in the race, but as you look around you start to wonder who.

At some point the field of candidates will congeal like menudo in the refrigerator, but until then we are all kinda wading around in the soup waiting to see what choices we are finally left with.

Hell maybe this is the year we collectively decide to reward Artalejo with an office.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Home Girl of the Week


Shame on me for not doing this a long time ago and props to a close friend of mine for pointing it out.

If ever there was someone worthy of public recognition for political work in this town it's my friend Jeannette Walker. 

I first met her 8 years ago when we were both working on the first Obama campaign.

What I admire about her the most is the she is a hard worker and does a much better job of rising above the local party bullshit than a lot of us mere mortals.

Walker works for the Party and its values tirelessly. She's an example to us all and unlike a lot of people active in the party who basically show up to meetings to bitch and moan, she's a worker.

And I admire that. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Depth of D3 - Two Really Good Candidates & Jaime Barceleau

The residents of District 3 are about to have a very interesting problem on their hands. They are about to have to choose between more than one qualified candidate.

I don't recall how long its been since that has been the case.

Previously District 3 residents would at best have one clear choice and then Lozano. So that is why the races where never close and why its been so long since they had to choose between more than one candidate.

The quality of candidate for District 3 has improved by leaps and bounds in this election cycle and is going to give District 3 residents something to think about come election time. Essentially the race looks like it is going to come down to two really smart, qualified, dynamic, experienced,  and educated community leaders and Jaime Barceleau.

Jaime Barceleau, who is using the EPISD Bond Election as a platform to launch his political career and probably learn how to campaign, was the first candidate out of the gate. He is essentially known for being District Clerk Norma Favela's "plus one" at political events and is a self-described "conservative" (along with some other interesting self-descriptions).

But recently Cassandra Brown announced her candidacy for the D3 seat. She's previously worked at city hall for both Steve Ortega and Susie Byrd. She currently works in the employment development sector and has a Master's Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. She displays a pretty deep knowledge of the machinations of city government and is the President of the Rosedale Neighborhood Association. She's married with two children and is in her late 20's.

Word on the street is that another candidate will be getting in the race. He's in his mid 20's, an attorney and has done a lot of government work. He's another candidate with a strong command of city and local government and has an impressive resume of community involvement. From what I hear, he will be announcing in the next couple of weeks.

Back when El Paso faced the serious Brain Drain problem, these are two young professionals that would've left El Paso in their rear-view mirror. Thankfully for the community's sake, they haven't and are choosing public service when they could be choosing careers that pay them both boatloads of cash.

Its obviously still early and there could be some other candidates that jump in the race but its unlikely any will join the Brown and the lawyer as top-tier candidates. At this point, again still early in the race, its hard to see how Barceleau makes a run-off.

Sure, he's going to have a lot of money to run, but he's the guy that is pushing the bond. That bond is going to raise your taxes in EPISD by 15%. The self-described "conservative" is going to have a hard time explaining to voters why he raised, or attempted to raise if the bond fails, their taxes by 15%. That is not going to play well in areas around Cielo Vista, which Barceleau probably presumes is his base.

I think Barceleau also has an over-inflated sense of name ID. I think he believes voters know who he is. And that is the problem when you exist in El Paso's political class, its easy to confuse being known as Norma's plus one amongst politicos with name ID in among the electorate. Essentially all three candidates are going to start off with basically the same amount of notoriety among the electorate, which is basically none.

So all three have the opportunity to define themselves to the electorate. But only one wants to raise property taxes by 15% for most people that live in District 3...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Charter School Movida / Anti - Bond People Behind the 8 - Ball

While the EPISD Bond is having some trouble gaining some traction in terms of support, understand that they knew exactly what they were doing when they decided to put in on the November ballot. They know most people that vote are going to vote for the Presidential or at best, vote straight ticket.

So that means they won't be voting AGAINST the bond. All they have to do is identify the people that most often vote in bond elections and make sure they GOTV the shit out of them. GOTV means making sure they actually show up and vote.

The group of people that normally vote in bond elections will be receiving all kinds of attention from the bond PAC, who apparently has a big budget. They were soliciting for people to work for the bond, which means paid block walkers for my buddy Mike to hit all his targets.

You know who those voters won't hear from?

The anti-bond people.

Why?

Because they are behind the 8 ball.

No matter how flawed the bond is, and it is, if the only message those voters are getting is to vote in favor of it, they are most likely to vote in favor of it.

The anti-bond people have a lot to overcome. Number one, they don't have a lot of time if they are just getting started now. The pro-bond people have already had positive press and have started working on the campaign.

Hell, you've probably seen the signs pop up over the weekend. Even if you live in the Ysleta Independent School District (because some Steeler fan didn't look at district boundaries).

They've been soliciting for paid campaign workers as well.

There is a political action committee in place. And its well funded, which is why they have the budget for signs, paid campaign workers, a headquarters and likely a couple of pieces of mail going out to voters.

What do the anti bond people have? No money, no organization, no one with campaign experience, a terrible message, and Daniel Lopez - which is almost redundant of me to say.

Lopez likes attention and will likely be the person who will take the campaign lead, mostly because he likes to pretend he knows what he's talking about and will likely tell everyone he should take the lead because he's the only one who has been in a campaign before. Which is likely true, but he got his ass handed to him and was even beat by Manny Hinojosa.

Let that marinate in your brain for a second.

Bottom line is that they have no one that can even identify the bond voters, no money to send mail, make phone calls, or put up signs. And the message they are going with is ineffective and won't resonate.

Any message that hinges on not enough money going to south El Paso when you only have a couple of feeder patterns south of the freeway, neither of which vote very much, its not a winning strategy.

Their message should've been something the average voter across the district can identify with like the amount of money the bond is for, the fact that they are building new building while losing a thousand students a year, a wide-open door to charter schools, etc.

That is where they need to get started, but they are late, broke, unorganized, and lack a leader with campaign expertise. The bond may indeed fail, but not because of anything they are doing.

-----------------------------------------------------------
The Charter School Door

The District is doing a really good job of scrambling to make sure that they quell any conversation about ability of charter schools to gain a foothold in EPISD as a result of the bond. That is how they duped the teachers association to go along with the bond.

And for all the facts the district tries to set straight, there is one dirty little secret not too many people know about.

Charter schools are on the horizon, and we aren't even talking long-term. They are right around the corner.

Don't believe me?

Check out this job posting I came across.


In case you can't read it well, it appears that there is a plan to open 20 charter schools in El Paso, with 4 schools opening as early as 2018.

So the charter school threat is real. Its not made up. Its not a figment of someone's imagine and its not overstated.

Its a very real problem.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

EDITORIAL: Temperament is Important ; The Trouble with Tom

Yesterday I wrote about the results of an open record request that showed a police report that chronicled an alleged assault involving Republican candidate Tom Buchino as the alleged assailant.

There are a lot of unanswered questions, which could've been answered but the guy who is clamoring for a debate really only wants questions on his own terms. Sorry Tom, but that isn't how democracy works.

So we don't really know how serious the car crash was or how badly anyone was injured. We don't have any other mitigating circumstances because Buchino won't take an interview. So we are left to make a judgement based on facts.

The facts are you have a Republican candidate who has a very militant posture who has a documented history of resorting to violence when he loses his cool in a tense situation.

If you don't believe me, lets go to the video!

Here is one example of Buchino playing dress-up with echoes of George W. Bush. All that is missing is a big banner that says MISSION ACCOMPLISHED on it. Maybe he should've draped it over the horse from the other video that had his bumper sticker.



Not militant enough for ya?

Okay, how about the time he actually fired is gun in a campaign video? No, I'm not making that up.



We seriously need to ask ourselves if this is the militarized posture we want in this community?

NOT BEING A STRAIGHT SHOOTER

But behind the dress-up and the props, there's a lot Mr. I'm-Not-A-Politician and I'm-a-Straight-Shooter doesn't tell the voter.

I mean aside from the fact that he's a Republican.

What he doesn't tell voters is that he lacks the training that your average patrol officers have in the Sheriff's Department, to say nothing of detectives or veterans of the department. You're required by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to have 643 hours of law enforcement training and pass a state exam to be a peace officer in the state of Texas.

Tom Buchino does not have that training. Yes, many law enforcement agencies will hire a deputy or officer off the street and then put them through training.

But Buchino isn't applying to be a rookie cop or deputy or even jailer. He wants to be sheriff but he lacks the experience necessary to do the job. Maybe he has some transferrable skills, maybe. But being a Special Forces Sergeant Major is not law enforcement experience. If the guy went on a ride along he'd learn a lot because he's never had that type of experience. Least of all law enforcement experience in a border community.

So he wants to be the man in charge of a department that manages jobs he has no experience in completing. To put it in terms he would understand, you'd never put an AG Sergeant Major in charge of an infantry unit.

Why?

Because experience matters.

And Buchino doesn't have any.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Police Report: Sheriff Candidate Involved in Assault?

Documents obtained through an open records request with the El Paso Police Department indicate that Republican candidate for Sheriff, Tom Buchino, was involved in an assault against an employee of the city's Health Department back in 2011.

Documents can be seen in their entirety here and here.

According to two separate documents the incident occurred on the morning of August 7, 2011 at almost 9:00am.

There was a vehicle crash involving the privately owned vehicle of current Republican candidate for Sheriff, Tom Buchino and a vehicle owned by the City of El Paso and driven by John Charles Mitchell, who worked for the Health Department at the City of El Paso.

The report does not indicate if Mr. Mitchell was in a uniform or if he was in a marked city vehicle so it is unclear in what capacity Mr. Mitchell worked for the Health Department. The report does however indicate that he works for the Health Department and that the vehicle belongs to the city of El Paso.

As you can see in this Crash Report it shows that the accident happened near the address of 5700 Upper Valley Road on the aforementioned date/time. Toward the bottom of the document Mr. Buchino and his wife are identified as the other two individuals in the other vehicle.


There is a separate Incident Report (link above, screen shot below) it identifies the same location, time, date, responding officer, and victim in the report. For some reason, and it was never made clear to me why, some information was redacted in the report, but if you read each report it is clear it is the same event.


According to the narrative of the report (screen shot below) that is provided in the link above, Officer Lopez indicates that the victim stated that after the accident Mr. Bucino allegedly exited his vehicle and ran towards Mr. Mitchell (identified in the report as Victim 1).



Mitchell says he back away from "Of-01", which stands for offender. The report then indicates that "Of-01 then struck Vi-01 on the left side of the face with a closed fist." 

The narrative closes by indicating that "Vi-01 stated that he felt pain and does desire prosecution." However, no charges have ever been filed against Mr. Buchino for the incident. There are no documents available that indicate why charges were never filed in this incident.

As mentioned in a previous post, I attempted to reach Mr. Buchino for comment on a range of issues but he declined to participate in an interview.

To be clear, Mr. Buchino was not arrested and has not been charged with a crime.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sheriff's Race

Next to the justice system, the sheriff's office is the largest part of the County's budget. The office is the primary law enforcement entity in the county and oversees the county jail system. This November the incumbent Sheriff Richard Wiles will be facing challenger Tom Buchino.

Wiles is one of the more popular Democrats in El Paso county and has a pretty long track record of his position on issues facing the community and the department. His opponent, other than being supporting by the El Paso County Sheriff Officer Association, is somewhat of a mystery.

In fact, he's a bit elusive.

I've tried for a couple of weeks to get an interview with Buchino through contact on Twitter and via email. Mostly its gone ignored but eventually some of the contact was answered and to summarize the email conversations Buchino was essentially doing what ever he could to dodge an interview. He kept putting up strange caveats like wanting to wait until after there was a debate between he and Wiles and other conditions. The funniest is when he tried to tell me it wasn't going be video recorded. Maybe its because he's a new candidate and never run before but sorry Sergeant Major, it doesn't work that way. You're the candidate that wants votes, we get to ask you whatever we want and used whatever medium we want in public forums. Freedom of speech is protected in the constitution, you might want to look that up...

Speaking of a debate between Wiles and Buchino, it doesn't appear that one is going to happen soon. Frankly if I were advising Wiles I'd tell him to take the debate. Anytime, anywhere. Wiles is a long-serving incumbent. He knows the issues facing his office very well. Buchino, not so much. I think, from what little I've actually heard of, that Buchino is extremely scripted. That is why he makes so many videos. Its a controlled environment where he controls the narrative, no one is asking a question, and no one is there to scrutinize his rhetoric.

I also think Buchino feels comfortable in a debate because the answers are generally pretty short and can be scripted. Plus, having the support of the EPCSOA means he can probably pack the room with supporters and give himself another level of comfort. So personally, I'd take the debate, bring him out to the deep end of the policy pool and watch him drown.

But I can see the rationale of the Wiles campaign. Why give a challenger who isn't likely to win more than a handful of precincts, if any, an opportunity at any unearned attention? I get it. If you're the powerhouse school with a chance at the BCS, playing a small polytech with a big lead in the 4th quarter, you start benching your stars. No sense in getting anyone hurt for a game you're going to coast to win.

THE ISSUES

There are a few important issues that need to be discussed in this race, which is why its unfortunate that Buchino is camera shy. The community should hear the candidates' position on the budget, operations, detention processing, and enforcement.

Sheriff Wiles' position on these issues are well-documented over the years. Some of them, I fundamentally disagree with the sheriff on, like the fact that we house federal prisoners.

The budget is important because of how much money we spend on keeping this community safe. What are the candidates' plan to cut spending while not negatively impacting our safety. We have deputies doing a lot of jobs that could be done at a bigger savings to tax payers by civilians that don't have to make the large salaries of deputies and those deputies would be free to be deployed on the streets.

Operational conversations are important for this community to have. One of the interesting things that has com forward during the campaign out of the Buchino campaign has been a palpable desire to further militarize the sheriff's office. Guess what, that costs money. And Buchino can't really shake off the notion that he wants to militarize the office when he actually advertises his campaign with a military posture. Like this:


There is also a pretty easily identified parallel to the Trump campaign in Buchino's rhetoric. Following the Paris terrorist attacks earlier this year, Buchino referred to it in a video. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if there is a video in the works to take advantage of the latest event in New York  over the weekend.

Sticking with costs, the downtown jail is a huge part of the budget because of the layout of the building the fact that its an older building. Its an inefficient layout and as a result, it costs tax payers more because you have to have more jailers on the payroll. That is a big place to save tax payers a real large amount of money, the question is if either candidate has the political will to take on the issue.

Perhaps where I'm guess, because one can only guess when Buchino won't answer questions, is where the two stand on the enforcement of immigration law. Buchino has made several references to his endorsement from the Samaniego family. Samaniego had a very troubled position on immigration and received a lot of criticism for his checkpoints. Obviously that begs the question of what Buchino's position on the enforcement of immigration law would be if he were elected sheriff.

By contrast Wiles has had a great relationship with the immigrant community and has been recognized for his work with immigrant communities.

THREE PROBLEMS FOR BUCHINO

Buchino has three issues that his campaign has to deal with, one is minor but the other two are potentially really problematic for Buchino.

First, the minor problem. Its honesty. He's pretty much being deceptive with voters by not including his party affiliation on his campaign literature. He put out a video where he tries to fend of the criticism by saying something that sounds like he announced he was a Republican in an elevator of a vacant building once. But in the most-visible representation of his campaign, the medium most likely to attract the attention of voters, Buchino doesn't include the fact that he's a Republican. Its problematic for a couple of reasons, but mostly because for a Republican he doesn't really seem to concerned about the financial obligations of the office. And because he's the union candidate, he doesn't really have a lot of leeway to even examine much in way of cost-cutting for tax payers.

One of the biggest problems for Buchino is the potential conflict of interest due to his business. He runs a tactical training facility. The questions he has to answer are has he ever solicited business with the county before? What are his plans for the business after the election if he wins? Does he close it, or keep it open? If so, what impact does that have considering he solicits business to train security personnel.

All questions that will go unanswered for now.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the biggest issue facing Buchino. I'll post that one tomorrow. Trust me, you don't want to miss it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Seriously Commissioner's Court? Seriously?

Lots to talk about with yesterday's Commissioner's Court meeting. I was all set to go on a rant about why in the blue hell is the Public Works head honcho presenting a bond plan to the court that has (shocker) even more funds dedicated to Ascarate Park in the form of storm water improvements for a park that has a FREAKING BODY OF WATER ON IT, while not including any such improvements for the plazita in San Elizario.

But then I see this bullshit of cutting COLA from County retirees.

Obviously the math is no where near the same, but the optics of VOTING FOR THEIR OWN FREAKIN' RAISE and cutting COLA from retirees IN THE SAME FREAKIN' BUDGET just looks absolutely terrible.

Yes, they have to do something to fix the cost to the taxpayers for the pensions. No disagreement there. But you can't give yourself a raise and take away from someone else in the same budget.

This is a self-inflicted wound and everyone that voted for it deserves every bit of criticism they get for it. Its probably the most tone-deaf decision I can think of in recent history in terms of local government.

Circling back to stormwater, someone please explain to me the logic of spending money for stormwater improvements to a park that a) has an actual body of water on it and b) has lots of grassy areas that would benefit from a good flood of water every now and then. While you're at it, explain to me why money isn't spent to abate flooding at the plazita in San Elizario that is a) much smaller than Ascarate and therefore MUCH cheaper to do, and b) has actual historic assets that NEED to be protected from flooding.

Come on commissioners, you can do better than that.

Clueless.

I'd need interns if I was going to respond everything stupid said by the out-of-town bloggers with blogs about me, but sometimes their stupidity floats to the top and I'm forced to deal with it like an over flowing toilet.

Case in point, David K's latest spin around the conspiracy theory crazy-go-'round.

So I'll keep this one short.

David K doesn't live here but seems to think he knows who is involved in what. He's wrong. I haven't made up my mind on who I'm supporting for mayor because the election isn't until FUCKING next year.

Morris Pittle is David K's buddy.

David K's family does business with the city of El Paso so they absolutely have a dog in the fight, no matter how much he pretends they don't. If they didn't, then all his stories about how people complain to his mom about what he writes wouldn't matter.

David K wrote his piece before that in an effort to prevent criticism of his buddy Morris' candidate. I don't fault him for it, but I also don't want to hear him pretend that transparent little movida of his wasn't obvious.

I don't know Saucedo and have never spoken to him. I just know what I have seen of his social media posts, his media quotes, and what he says at the podium from time to time during call to the public. In other words, I know slightly more about him than the average voter.

David K is a Republican. So is Saucedo. I am not. I disagree with those values and I'm not a Santorum supporter. So Saucedo isn't someone I'm like to support. David K just likes to substitute his own reality sometimes when it doesn't fit his scheme.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Charter Schools & The EPISD Bond

I'll get more into a rant about charter schools and why they are bad for public education and tax payers in a later post, but for now watch this video if you haven't seen it already.



Here's the bottom line that I think is important for people to understand about the EPISD Bond. The very same people that are trying to pave the way for more charter schools into El Paso are the same people behind the bond. That should at the very least, be cause for concern.

CREEED, which is an education PAC that is a love child of Texas for Education Reform, essentially the same people behind Texans for Lawsuit Reform, put a bunch of money behind candidates in the last round of school board elections at both EPISD and YISD.

Their candidates at EPISD all won, their candidates at YISD all lost.

And now EPISD has a bond going out to voters. Board President Dori Fenenbock has taken a position of participating in the PAC, which isn't something that has normally been done in the past, was a CREEED candidate.

There have been some blog posts and news stories about teachers' union support of the bond being conditional on a few things, one of which was the prohibition of charter schools going into the empty buildings that would be a consequence of school consolidation.

That defeats the purpose of the bond to begin with because central to the argument in favor of the bond is the fact that EPISD is shrinking in population. Regardless of whether or not you think charter schools are a good thing, one thing for sure is that they take students away from public schools. And less students means less money, which therefore increases the costs on tax payers.

Charter schools like to go into existing structures so that their budget isn't eaten up in construction. So rather than a former nightclub, zumba palace, or generic office suite in a strip mall, what could be more ideal than an existing empty school?

Hell Zavala Elementary could become Zavala Charter School over night. Hell the surrounding communities of the closed down schools would probably then turn around and WELCOME a charter school to open in the old facilities. Frankly, that would be a brilliant move.

The district really hasn't ruled that out as a possibility either because the only thing in writing in terms of assurances against charter schools weaseling their way in to old buildings is a resolution. For those of you that don't know, A RESOLUTION DOESN'T MEAN SHIT.

Its non-binding and almost always ceremonial. It doesn't have the power of policy. Its just flowery language no on reads all the way through but the person getting one.

The bottom line is simple, there is nothing legally preventing charter schools from occupying real estate in ideally located spots left vacant by a bond passed with the support of the PAC that wanted more charter schools in El Paso.

Thus Woody Hunts guy, Mark Smith, being involved in the bond at the behest of ...EPISD School Board President Dori Fenenbock.

Don't just blindly follow the "for the kids" argument. Ask questions.

And vote accordingly.

UPDATE: Let me make a correction here. I was told that the resolution contains language called a Contract With The Voters that allegedly is legally binding. Meaning after the fact, theoretically the district could be sued if they don't keep their word on the bond. So the district, which has legal staff would have to fight a lawsuit from Joe Citizen, who likely doesn't have a legal team and a huge budget to fight in court. Doesn't make me feel any better, but in the interest of being accurate, I wanted to correct what I erroneously said earlier in the event that this new information gives any of you a warm and fuzzy. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mayoral Candidate Announcements

David Saucedo announced his candidacy for mayor recently and the El Paso Times ran a story on it.

You should click on the story to read more about Mr. Saucedo, but there is also cool video on the Times' website of his campaign announcement. There's a part where he speaks about El Paso's history and apparently there was only one person who clapped.

It reminded me of the scene in Coming to America with Randy Watson & Sexual Chocolate.



You can see his campaign logo. I don't really understand what the symbol is supposed to convey but there was some thought put into it from what I'm told.

Saucedo's biggest problem is that #1 he's a madre Republican (as in supports extremists like Rick Santorum - did you ever google "santorum" by the way? If you haven't, don't do it from a work computer) and #2 his political input has been to support illegal speed bumps for Cathedral High School, supported Larry Romero, and supported the obscene raise for the City Manager. Thats not the stuff to build a campaign on.

But its early still, so maybe he can get past it.

I'm hearing that Charles Stapler has already informally announced his candidacy for the city's highest post at the Historic Landmark Commission meeting the other day.

No world on when he might be making a formal announcement but its likely that some candidates that have let it be known that they are running for mayor won't necessarily make it on to the final ballot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

D3 Likely to be Deep Talent Pool

Campaigns are the intersection of timing and opportunity. If any one, or neither, of the two aren't there, your campaign is going to lose.

For Jaime Barceleau this is particularly true. Aside from a major character flaw that will come out during the campaign, Barceleau now has several problems. Aside from being the only candidate in that race that is going to be advocating for a 15% increase in taxes right before his own election, he is also going to be facing younger, more dynamic and talented competition.

There will likely be a few more people to jump in the race but one candidate that joined the race this week and one that will be joining next week are candidates that immediately make Barceleau's chances of winning go from slim to none. 

Cassandra Hernandez-Brown announced her candidacy in a press release yesterday along with a campaign fundraiser announcement - south of the freeway no less!

From her press release:

“I have been fortunate” stated Mrs. Hernandez-Brown “My mother was a young single mom with five children. I come from a family of hard workers that were able to support me and my education, but not everyone has that opportunity. That is why I have dedicated myself as the Deputy Director at Dynamic Workforce Solutions to collaborating with the business community to bring sustainable, higher earning jobs to El Paso. I have a proven record of helping El Pasoans city wide and helping employers recruit, hire and retain talent. There is more to be done and as city representative I am up to that challenge.”

Hernandez -Brown has a Master's in Public Administration from UTEP. 

She is likely going to be backed by the progressive crowd. 

Hernandez - Brown had one little stumble out of the gate, she included the city logo on a campaign piece, so she'll probably get in a little trouble for that one.


Next week another young and talented candidate will announce their candidacy and that candidate will also be a candidate that is going to compare well with the rest of the field. 

So for the first time in a long time District 3 will have some deep talent and voters will have a lot to think about heading in to a likely run-off early next year. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Vindication in Socorro?

Former Cit Rep Maria Reyes regained her seat on Socorro City Council following Saturday's election. 

Reyes won a special election that was set to replace Sergio Cox who resigned over the fall out of a street paving scandal in which Cox had a street paved that was a dead end road and has almost no traffic but did have a property that Cox had a financial interest in.

Cox had defeated Reyes a couple of years ago and now she will replace him on council to fulfill the remainder of his unexpired term.

Her rejoining council will be a potential powder keg at least for a couple of months because City Rep Gloria Rodriguez and Reyes very famously have bad blood. 

Rodriguez is termed out but is currently running for Mayor against incumbent Jesus Ruiz.

That election is in November of this year. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Barceleau Backing Bond

Jaime Barceleau is using the bond to further his political career. 

Stevie Wonder can see that. 

It's bad for the district, it's bad for the bond, and it makes the district look bad.

The people in charge of the bond should realize that it makes no sense to have a declared political candidate as a key player in the bond. 

Case in point, Barceleau apparently spoke with multiple elected officials about the bond over the last few days and at least on of them was angered by his pitch because it sounded like a veiled threat by harking back "to the people that elected you". 

It's a bad idea and fixable. But they won't and it's only going to get worse. The tax payers are essentially footing the bill to further Jaime Barceleau's political career. 

Coupled with bringing on Mark Smith, I see the EPISD PAC is off to a GREAT start! 

Yes, that's sarcasm. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Only This City Council...

Only this city council would think its a good idea to eliminate free parking in the downtown area on Saturdays.

Downtown is only just now starting to blossom into something potentially really cool and this dumbass city council thinks charging people to park downtown is a good idea.

Take a look around at other parts of El Paso that have more and better, shopping and entertainment options. Show me the ones that charge to park there.

The answer is zero.

This shit is not only incredibility short-sighted, but it underscores the fact that this council would rather find a way to charge you for more shit rather than finding a cheaper way to operate.

I'm telling you, its a matter of time before they find a way to charge us to take a walk in a park that we already pay for.

Unless you're a dog. Then you get a free splash pad you don't have to pay to use.

The one that drove me the most crazy during the debate was the mayor. The mayor told someone who spoke during public comment that if people don't want to pay for parking that "the mall doesn't charge for parking".

Yeah, no shit. And way more people shop at the mall than downtown.

Leaser's a business owner. He doesn't charge people to park when they show up at his dealership. Why the hell would you be trying to draw people to your downtown and think that charging them to park there on a weekend is a good idea? I can understand charging when parking is at a premium, but downtown is a fucking ghost town during the day on weekends.

Way to go council, just when we think you can't get dumber than showing the alley behind the PI when you have an item about unpaved alleys, you never cease to amaze us.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

EPISD's Big Bond

I don't live in the EPISD area, but if I did and I was faced with this bond, I'd vote no.

The sticker price is just outrageous coming in at almost 3/4 of a billion dollars. And while I'll be the first to say that we have to invest in brick and mortar projects for our students, but a big portion of this bond is to basically close some schools. That's not building, that is the opposite.

Lets start with some stark realities that people need to remember. For all of you that complain about how high your taxes are, let me fill you in on a secret. The largest portion of your tax bill is the school district. They tax you the most and so when you have a high tax bill, they are most at fault. You guys bitch and moan about city council and the county, but the school district does you dirty every year.

When you vote for a bond, YOU are raising your OWN taxes. Its "for the kids" but YOU are deciding whether or not to raise your OWN taxes. You're going to be increasing your own taxes by about 15% using the districts own numbers.

You should remember that and tell your friends. Especially if none of them got a 15% pay raise this year.

Here's the other problem that I would have with the bond that no one wants to talk about. Look at how long QOL projects are taking at the city and how much more they are costing us? The city had to raise taxes to cover it.

Now here is something really important to tell your friends and neighbors. The city has departments to oversee the bond construction projects. They have staff that are experienced and educated in that kind of stuff. And guess what? We still have problems.

Now imagine entrusting a school district that isn't experience, equipped, or staffed to handle oversights of projects that are roughly the same amount as the damn QOL bonds???

Its a disaster waiting to happen.

Quietly EPISD has been poaching city staff in anticipation of the bond passing, but in my opinion they simply aren't equipped to oversee construction projects on the scale of the QOL bonds right now. Lord knows they have a hard enough time teaching kids, they certainly aren't in the construction business.

Also, you just knew Forma was gonna find a way to get paid out of this. And it blows my mind that Jaime Barceleau, who is now a candidate for District 3 and going to have problems getting voters to trust him when information comes to light during the campaign, is the guy pushing for the bond.

So let me get this straight...you want to raise taxes by 15% for people that live in the area you represent, some of which is south of the freeway, and then you want them to put you on council?

Tell me this is some sort of sick joke.

----------------------------------------------
Timing

The timing of this vote is absolutely strategic and to be honest, really bothers me. They knew what they were doing when they decided to put it on a November ballot. Its a presidential election and a lot of people are going to under vote a la madre. They will walk in to vote for president, possibly vote straight ticket, and walk out.

So they have a pretty good measure of who is going to actually go through the trouble of going through he ballot and voting on the bond issue. So they talk to those people and get them to go out and vote.

There is no organized opposition effort so the only message that voters that vote in bond elections are getting is that shitty "El Paso Rising" message that sounds like an ad for guys with an ED problem.

No one is going to tell them that their taxes are going to go up by 15%. No one is going to tell them its the largest bond ever attempted in the history of El Paso County. No one is going to tell voters that the district is probably not equipped to see oversee construction projects of that scale.

So with only one message, lost in the confusion of a high-profile presidential election, its likely going to pass, despite the outrageous sticker price.

So next year when you're complaining about how much your taxes are going up, its probably not going to be because of the city or county. Its going to be because of the tax you're going to vote for yourself.



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hector Montes and AFSCME

Yesterday was Labor Day and it got me to thinking about unions in town. As you know I'm a lifelong union guy and do work for unions in town. That is why when I see unions do things that I know is ultimately going to hurt other unions, it bothers me.

Thus my criticism of the El Paso Sheriffs Officers Association and others. But the one that I think is doing the most damage to unions in town is AFSCME, and mostly because of Hector Montes. This post has video of how Montes got what he deserved a couple of weeks ago at a Commissioner's Court meeting.

Since Montes makes it a point to be the public face of an otherwise good union, its his public actions that are the problem. Very often it appears that Montes uses his position with AFSCME as a platform for him to advocate for his own view points rather than what is in the best interest of AFSCME or its membership.

And example is that Montes is often critical of union-friendly members of governing bodies because he has a personal beef with them, not because of their stances on unions, membership, or union issues. That is a real problem that the AFSCME membership should address. Your union person should never have an adversarial relationship with elected officials that vote on your contracts if they are friendlies.

Certainly Montes can and should be holding members that aren't union friendly accountable, but that isn't what he does. He very often trashes them in social media, or attempts to wield his feeble campaign skills (not that he's ever actually won a campaign) against members that are pro-union. That defies logic.

But Montes is one of the most petty and vitriolic public figures in town. He says some pretty awful things about people and they are aware of it. And it is probably why AFSCME membership is stagnant.

Montes has an incomprehensible and deep personal hatred of certain elected officials in town like County Judge Veronica Escobar, Commissioner's Stout and Perez, and City Representative Ordaz.  As a result, he often personalizes issues to the extreme and says and does things that if I were an elected official, would certainly have an impact on how I dealt with AFSCME.

Take the raise of county officials as an example. The County, specifically because of County Judge Veronica Escobar, is good to its employees. She has consistently fought for more time off for them and raises. That is stuff that the union rep should be doing at the county, but instead, that leadership on union wage increases has come from the person you'd expect to the one fighting against it. Essentially she has done a far better job at doing AFSCME's job than AFSCME. Montes should be singing her praises.

Normally Montes goes to every city council meeting and will find a way to interject his own public commentary on issues that don't impact the union while at the same time using his union position to do so. Its common place for Montes.

But a trip to the county is pretty rare. He almost never goes to county meetings. And this video is evidence why. He went to pick a fight and he got smacked around. He got what was coming to him. Montes not only demonstrated he didn't understand the process, which is frankly an embarrassment for someone who's job is to do political work for a union, but he was put in his place by almost every member of the court.

Haggerty gave the guy the biggest smacking around of every member of the court. He essentially told Montes that he was wrong for saying there was a lack of communication with the public on the part of the county when neither he nor the union had ever attended a budget meeting. Escobar corrected the record on what Montes was saying about social media, and Perez kept trying to establish whether or not Montes was at the meeting in an official capacity on behalf of the union or not.

Montes gives more than 5 different answers to the same question when Perez pursued the point.



The reality is that Montes made his own union look bad when he goes to a meeting to be critical of an issue that didn't impact his union membership at all and attacks elected officials of the most union-friendly elected body in west Texas, possibly the state.

And so since its been a while, Commissioner Haggerty, you get the Homeboy of the Week Award and Montes gets the Douche Bag of the Week Award.



Friday, September 2, 2016

Shane Haggerty Considering District 4 Run

Ysleta Independent School District Board of Trustees President Shane Haggerty is considering a run for District 4 on City Council. That seat is currently held by City Rep Carl Robinson who is termed out.

Sam Morgan has already made his intentions known that he is interested in running for the seat and Haggerty would join the business owner in the field of prospective candidates.

Haggerty's possible run has an immediate impact on the race for several reasons but mostly because he's a Haggerty running in the Northeast. Haggerty's have done really well in that part of town for many years.

Shane Haggerty is one of the Democrat Haggerty's and has been a member of the fire fighter union for many years. Haggerty recently retired from the El Paso Fire Fighter Department and represents the Parkland area on the YISD School Board.

Haggerty would likely have the support of the fire fighter's union which is one of the few unions in town that is effective in electing people they endorse. It would be tough to see the union endorse anyone else in that race considering he's one of their own.

Shane Haggerty was the vocal minority member of a very disfunction YISD board that was a controversy magnet. Haggerty voted against the majority's effort to fight increased transparency in campaign finance reporting of school board members and would often leave meetings when actions he felt were illegal were about to transpire. Eventually the prevailing regime was ousted and a new board took over that elected Haggerty as the President. During Haggerty's administration the district has seen increase in teacher pay and investment in safety and infrastructure improvements at the campuses.

Since Labor Day is traditionally a day when Democrats make their campaign moves in El Paso, I'd expect to see Haggerty toss his derby into the ring pretty soon.

Shocker! Barceleau Throws Hat In Ring for District 3

In a stunning development Jaime Barceleau is running for city council in District 3!!!!!

Just kidding. Its not a shocker. I mentioned it probably 6 months ago.

His campaign team sent out a cryptic email about his campaign announcement last week thinking that they would get more media coverage by being coy about what he's running for.

Unless he was going to stun everyone by announcing that he was going to run for President or Governor of Texas, this really isn't a surprise.

But then again, there's lots of things about Jaime Barceleau that are cryptic. Sure hope he isn't going to rely on this election being about his integrity, honesty, or fidelity.

Because if it is....he's fucked!

Any who, he had his campaign announcement last night. This campaign should be REALLY interesting.

As a candidate for public office, he's now a public figure and therefore, open to scrutiny.

Stay thirsty my friends...

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mayoral Race Blurbs

So if you read my buddy David K's blog today he touts Republican mayoral candidate David Saucedo III. 

Thats because his buddy Morris Pittle is part of his campaign team. He didn't disclose that while he was implying everyone else has a dog in the fight. 

It's certainly way too early for me to decide who I'm voting for considering the field hasn't even settled yet. 

Ali Razavi is gonna be Team Dee all the way. That's why he's been doing open records requests between Escobar and Houghton. Forma backs Margo and tells Ali what to ask for. Pretty simple.

Personally I think Sylvestre Reyes is a game changer if he actually jumps into the race. Say what you want about him but he didn't lose by a lot and the longer someone is out of office the more fondly they are remembered. He doesn't have to invest money into introducing himself to voters and he should have a pretty strong grasp of policy. 

He's Chicano, well-known, and probably has access to campaign money. Not like he did before but certainly enough to mount a campaign.

Pittle is working for Saucedo and Pittle did visuals and mail for Reyes in the race he lost. Not sure what - if any - talent is left for a campaign team, but if he got the right team and didn't campaign by committee I think he could be a top-tier candidate.

Especially because he's running against a lot of candidates that are Republicans like Margo and Saucedo. 

Reyes toying with the idea of running mayor is somewhat similar to Dee Margo's candidacy being a sign that Nikand has lost her clout. Only Reyes' candidate underscores what most people already know, Acosta's campaign would be DOA. 

Reyes, and any other candidate with half a brain will campaign against this very dysfunctional council. Well you can't be a member of a dysfunctional council that everyone basically hates and then have the nerve to ask for a promotion and expect to get it if you were a big part of the problem. 

More on the mayoral race soon. Up next, some city council race updates...