Thursday, January 19, 2017

Speaking of Egos...City Hall Amirite?

Okay enough with candidates that play dress-up. All hell is breaking loose at city council and its going to be a big couple of news days from what I've read so far.

Talk amongst the media folk in town is about how they are all dropping open record requests at city hall. The feeding frenzy is about to begin and you're going to probably see a lot of city officials ducking and dodging the media.

KTSM broke the story last night during their 6pm broadcast and they were followed by KFOX and the Times. Here's the story on KTSM and the Times because they seem to do the best job of putting it all together in a comprehensive manner.

Am I the only one here wondering how stupid can members of council be at this point? Have you people learned nothing from Textgate? In fact, that may ultimately be an issue and I'll talk about that at the end so stick around.

So now that you've read the stories, here are some things that stand out to me - intent, public perception, and City Attorney Sylvia Firth.

Firth things Firth - how in the blue hell is the City Attorney NOT prepared to go forward with the ethics complaint. She's had plenty of time to prepare and I for one am not getting caught up in the bullshit debate over her interpretation of what days means. In parts of the charter it makes the distinction between days and business days. the portion of the charter that discusses the ethics commission it says days.

But that is a bullshit argument meant to delay the issue.

The reality is she doesn't HAVE to take the full amount of time. Just like ORR's don't HAVE to take 10 days either. Personally I think she's stalling on purpose to fly air cover for her clients, the city reps in question. There should've been an outside council appointed from day one because she can't serve the commission charged with investigating ethics complaints and also defend the people alleged to have acted unethically.

That is a flaw in the system.

A big fat one too.

Why wasn't the Ethics Commission notified before the meeting that Firth's office wasn't going to be prepared to go forward? That seems like a pretty easy notification to make to the Chair. At the very least, its unprofessional of Firth.


There are messages in the KTSM story that mention a meeting with the mayor, the meeting being moot and the mission being accomplished. Read those.

To me, that shows there was a plan in place that was trying to be executed. Two of the city reps acknowledge, before the meeting, the issues with a quorum. One rep tells the other that if he wants to go, that she will step out to avoid the quorum.

That is as much of a smoking gun as you can get in my opinion. They knew the possible issue with the TOMA and showed their intent to attempt to side-step the quorum violation by making it a walking quorum.

One of the reps, for apparently no other reason than ego, is apparently so driven by not wanting the mayor to take credit, goes to the meeting anyway. Personally I think that is the best characterization of what is wrong with city council.


Public Perception

That leads me to public perception. There is something wrong when your driving force, at least in the communication we've seen so far, is public perception and who is getting the credit, rather than being solution-oriented. That is a problem that has to get fixed.

According to social media posts from KTSM staff, more is coming later today at the 5 and 6 broadcast and they mentioned thousands of emails. So some dirty laundry is gonna be aired.

In their story KTSM had to make a correction about who texts were originating from because - big surprise - the city didn't really label them all that well. And this is where things I think will get interesting.

If you're requesting communication between several city reps via text message and email. each of them should have a record of that communication because they are public documents. So all parties involved should have the same records right? If they don't, then someone deleted a public record.

That ladies and gentlemen, is a crime.

Walk with me so I can illustrate what I'm talking about. Say me and my homeboys Tony, Flaco, Georgie, and Pepe are all elected officials. Say someone requests the text messages between us. Well they can only get whatever is public business. So any text messages talking about how much the Dallas Cowpies suck aren't public business and don't have to be released. But, say we are talking about an agenda item that says El Paso wants to succeed from Texas because the Cowboys suck so bad, then our text messages about that city business should be released. And all of us should be able to provide the same messages that were exchanged between us. In short, if there was a group message between the 5 of us and its public record, there should be 5 identical records of that conversation. But if an open record request comes back and only one person supplied the conversation between all of us, even if it is accurate, it shows that 4 people either didn't turn it over or deleted the record.

Which is against the law.

So since there is confusion about who is saying what in the messages, a request should be made of each official. Then there is no confusion about who said what, and you know that no one is reading and deleting. And the beauty of all of this is that they can go back and request the texts again because you can't destroy the records because that would ALSO be against the law, so they can see if that is what happened. And even if they DID "accidentally" delete the messages...we know that software exists to recover deleted messages now, don't we?

In conclusion...I'm most anxious to see the role that Max Grossman plays in all of this. Something tells me he's not gonna come out of this looking too good, but we'll see...


Anonymous said...

How stupid is Lily Limon indeed. She went on camera saying she made sure there were no more than 4 members of Council in the outside meetings.

Thomas said...

The City has the ethics board, County has the ethics commission.