Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ethics Commission Meeting

If Judd Burgess was paying attention to the meeting last night, then he knows all he has to do is slightly reword his ethics complaint to allege that there was an ethical violation or violation to the city's ethics ordinance and the Ethics Commission from the City of El Paso can hear his complaint that was dismissed by City Attorney Firth.

If you want a good wrap-up of the meeting last night, KFOX did a good job of summarizing the meeting and you can see the report here.

Basically, Firth was under fire for most of the meeting.

The Commission was already deliberating some changes that they wanted to recommend to council and voted on those changes. What will be interesting to watch is how those recommendations are going to be treated at the council meeting in which they are to be formally adopted by city council. The very people that are going to be affected by the changes proposed by the ethics commission are the same people that will vote the changes up or down.

You see what is going to happen right?

The main highlight of the meeting was the fact that pretty much everyone on the commission thought a) Firth should've not touched the case at all because she has a conflict, which she freely admits she has and notified the members of council on, and b) that the case should've been referred to them.

Among the members of the Commission, currently Republican Chair Adolfo Telles argued pretty clearly that under the current process that you basically need to be an attorney to file and ethics complaint in order for it to be heard and that they are tasked with hearing the ethical issues that need to be address, independent of the legal issues addressed by a "finder of fact". Former Democratic Chair and Acosta appointee Danny Anchondo was pretty much the only member of the Commission to agree with Firth's position.

Ethics Commission Chairman Schwartz, also an attorney, argued the most vehemently against Firth's position on whether the Commission could hear the complaints and why she didn't recuse herself from the process completely due to a conflict of interest.

Firth indicated that she was upset that the Commission had "roughed up" her deputy and that she felt it was "unfair". The Commission may end up hearing another ethics complaint that was filed by Burgess on Monday relating to Firth's decision to not recuse herself because of a conflict of interest.

BOTTOM LINE: The ethics complaints against he Mayor and Council and dead and there's no way to bring them back. Burgess has to refile. There are changes that are heading to council for approval that will prevent the issue from happening again, but that is all predicated on the very group of people impacted by the changes having the huevos to actually vote in favor of the changes. And finally, the dismissal of the ethics complaints has no bearing on the investigation by the Texas Rangers of the mayor and members of council.

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