Monday, July 31, 2017

Escobar's ORR Policy Purely Political

I wrote a while back about how the County of El Paso has lost their damn mind creating a policy to start charging for the time necessary to do open records requests.

And now that I have gone back and watched the debate, I'm even more convinced that this policy was not only bad for transparency, but appears to be a policy that has one purpose and one purpose only, to help County Judge Veronica Escobar further her political career.

That should infuriate everyone and it undermines the faith people have in openness with government.

Let me explain my opinion on this. The County, and by County I mean the Judge, will argue that this policy makes sense because all other governmental entities charge a fee and that the County's fee is nominal and far less than any other level of government.

Probably true - but completely irrelevant.

I didn't realize until I went back to watch the debate that during the discussion of the item there was little to no mention of why the issue all of a sudden was a problem. Here's the bottom line - the County of El Paso is not inundated with open records requests.

The County Judge's office is inundated with open records requests. And yes, its completely political and Dori Fenenbock's campaign is behind it. They are putting in a bunch of requests to dig up whatever dirt they can on the County Judge.

Is that wrong?


At best its an inconvenience and can impede the efficiency of government.

Is it shitty for Fenenbock's office to do? Sure. Its freaking really excessive. According to the County Judge, who acknowledges in the meeting that this was essentially about one person's requests, which she says started July 2nd and have been every day since. She says 5 to 12 different requests every day including weekends.

If you didn't read the media coverage of the issue you'd have no idea that this was essentially about a campaign issue.

The judge, nor anyone else, EVER actually articulates the nature of the requests. Only Commissioner Haggerty questioned the policy. On the agenda the item says it came from the County Administrator, but make no mistake, it came from the judge.

Lee Shapleigh says, "It is not a problem we have ever had before." So if it has never been an issue before, and is only an issue now, with the judges specific time frame she stated, why is County policy being changed for sake of requests coming from one individual, to one elected official's office?

So when you really look at this issue, how can you see this any other way than County Judge Veronica Escobar using her position as County Judge to make a policy change that essentially gives her a political campaign cover.

That is NOT an appropriate use of her office, the authority of the County Judge, or government for that matter. County Government does not exist to provide the County Judge with political air cover.

Understand that this is a major policy change. But for all her talk of transparency, she had the opportunity to disclose to the Court and the public the nature of the requests (because its absolutely germane to the policy change), and made the conscious decision to not disclose the nature of the requests.

For all of her talk of the county should be taking their time and double checking data when it came to the jail contract, she damn sure didn't ask for any data has to how many ORR requests the County gets nor how they relate to requests her office gets.

Where's her desire to "do a deep dive"? Where's her data showing that this is such a major issue for tax payers that they need to change the policy?

You know, because "no one is infallible".

So review the basic facts.

* One office has been getting excessive requests from one person.

* That person works for a congressional candidate, Dori Fenenbock.

* Judge Escobar hasn't announced, but she's taken meetings to discuss her candidacy and there is a PAC in place that is already soliciting support for her campaign.

* County policy was then changed as a response to the requests.

How in the hell is that an appropriate use of her office?

This begs a question that I really now want to know, were any of the requests delayed in order for time to be permitted for a policy to be created?

If so, that would be really bad.


Anonymous said...

It's obvious she using a play from Hillarys game book. Deny, delay and stall. It's also very obvious this is malfeasance of office and should be challenged in the courts. Why be so obvious ? She doesn't care if the people know and she knows that short of murder people would still vote for her. It's arrogance in that she will do whatever she wants legal, illegal or unethical.

Don't we have enough of that in Washington and you want some more fuel to the fire. The only thing that has been established is that the more they dig the more culprits appear. It has become reminiscent of "turning lights on and see roaches by the hundreds trying to flee. We need to stop the mudslinging and personal initiated investigations. Trump might be forced to leave but you can be sure the Democratic President will undergo even worse harrassement. Nothing is getting done and nothing will get done in the future.

Jerome Tilghman said...

Stripped of all disguise, this is use/ abuse of the instruments of government to her 'perceived political advantage." One question prompted by this blog series is whether or not the D.F.C. (Dori Fenenbock Campaign) has too used government infrastructure (El Paso ISD ) for political advantage. Political optics being what they are, I have shared the thought one might see the Superintendent's pay raise and benefits package is followed by a de facto campaign endorsement for the D.F.C. congressional bid.

It would be nice to be wrong, but fingerprints of past political practices would give this and other taxpayers to question the aforementioned.