Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fenenbock Owes the LGBTQ Community & Democrats an Explanation

Dori Fenenbock's biggest problem is going to be convincing people she's actually a Democrat. The fact that a woman her age has such a short voting history is, quite frankly, embarrassing. The fact that she thinks she's congressional material because of her checkbook, coupled with that short voting history, is a problem for a lot of people. On top of that, quitting the job she just got elected to in order to buy run for a congressional seat is also problematic.

Two-thirds of her very short voting history has been for Republicans. Nearly 1/2 of the money on her first report came from Republicans. The first time she ever voted Democrat in her life was in 2016. My 13 year old daughter Maya has literally done more for the Democratic Party in her life time than Fenenbock has. Hell, she's knocked on more doors for Democrats and passed out more lit for Democrats than Fenenbock has.

Anyone active in local politics that is living in the valley knows that. Hell, Chairwoman Holguin's daughters have also done more for the local party than Fenenbock and they are younger than Maya!

But lets get to the explanation she owes to the LGBTQ community - and hell, the entire Democratic Party for that matter since its a big part of our platform and no other Party has fought harder for equality than the Republican Party.

So far Fenenbock's campaign reports show that her largest expenditure was to Mark Sanders who is a political consulting from Third Coast Consulting. Sanders created a Political Action Committee called the Traditional Marriage Coalition. It was formed shortly after the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriages were legal in all 50 states.

Equality is an issue central to the Democratic Party and the fact that Fenenbock would work with someone who went to the extreme of creating a PAC to fight something the Democratic Party has fought hard for is at the very least, something Fenenbock should explain to the LGBTQ community and the El Paso Democratic Party.

Sources in the Democratic Party have indicated that some LGBTQ leaders are organizing around this issue.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dori Fenenbock & "Values"

While David K is having a heart attack over looking like an idiot again (he's really mad that I told everyone his little scheme where he makes shit up and then later says it didn't happen because he blogged about it), Dori Fenenbock went to the Paso Del Norte Tejano Democrats meeting.

I know, I laughed too. And it was predictably the outcome everyone expects. The loud Vero haters are pumping her up and going to trash Escobar all over the internet - thats no different than when that same group of people did that to Beto O'Rourke when he put Congressman Reyes out to pasture.

It makes them feel good to think they are having an impact - and they are, just a negative one on their own candidate.

And Fenenbock is going to try to buy some Democratic street cred. She's already throwing around money and all the rat consultants in town are going to line up to get their share of the money. She's all of a sudden become a member of every Democratic organization in town and buying tables to anything she can so that she can try to buy some credibility. Jokes on her, they are just gonna happily take her money. This is the same model all those failed Republican candidates follow like David Saucedo.

What is different is that you're now going to watch David K completely lose his shit if anyone comes remotely close to doing to Fenenbock what will be/has been done to Escobar - and defend the people he usually ridicules.

David K gets really mad about me being critical of Escobar. Not because he likes her, but because when he does it, no one listens and no one cares. But it has an impact when I am critical of Escobar.


Because everyone knows David K is on the take for Fenenbock.

It gets better too, he's going to cry anti-semitism EVERY time someone is critical of Fenenbock. The most racist blogger who doesn't live in El Paso but blogs about it is going to have the nerve to act like he's not an anti-bigot.

Seriously, the guy commonly known as David KKK, is gonna try to be the moral voice on "identity politics".

I'm a values person. I focus on the values of my Party - and trust me I hear it from Republicans all the time about their critiques of the Democratic Party, hell most of those idiots call it the Democrat Party and I correct them when they can't even get that right.

So when people SELL OUT their values to vote for someone who isn't a Democrat because they don't like the Democrat - or because they can't get over an asswhooping 5, almost 6 years ago, it is a little sad.

What is funnier is hearing someone who has voted Republican 66% of the time have the nerve to talk about being a Democrat because of her "values".

What bothers me is that its raza doing it. You people think Dori gave a shit about us before she became a candidate? She wasn't involved in ONE SINGLE DEMOCRATIC OR LIBERAL CAUSE OR ISSUE prior to becoming a candidate.

NOT ONE. Lets hear ANYONE come up with a single one she was involved with before she became a candidate. One single issue or cause.

You can't.

Because she hasn't.

So when I hear her talk about values, its funny. When I see life-long Democrats sell out to support her, its not funny, its sad.

But since she's talking about VALUES...why hasn't she said one single thing critical of Donald Trump? She hasn't and she's not going to.

And I'll do you one better...

If she has such strong values...why did she sponsor a post about what happened in Virginia? If she is so upset about the racist actions...does that mean her husband is gonna ask for all that money back from Trump?

I'll end with this - at the Tejano meeting she spoke very glowingly about former Congressman Silvestre Reyes, or as she calls him Silver, being her campaign chair.

That explains why you are gonna see so many people practice the dark arts of internet trashing. But, its interesting for another reason. More on that later.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The David K Dance

If you haven't figured it out yet, David K doesn't like to admit when he's wrong. So what he does is make something up, say he heard it somewhere, and then when it doesn't happen he claims victory by saying that it didn't happen because he blogged about it.

The County Judge wants Stout to be her successor. David K has some obsession with Susie Byrd, which started the minute his buddy Jim Tolbert went from hero to zero faster than anyone in El Paso politics.

Susie is Team Escobar all the way. There's NO WAY she'd run for anything while Escobar is running her race. I don't know why he keeps pushing that line, but when it doesn't come true he's gonna say it didn't come true because he blogged about it.

He's completely in the pocket of Dori Fenenbock so everything he writes is from that perspective. I've been critical of both - unlike David K. And trust me, Team Escobar has taken it personally, even though the criticism has been completely focused on differences in policy.

But at least she's actually a Democrat. Dori is a DINO, and it bothers the hell out of David K when Dori is ever connected to the party he actually from.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

City Reps Revenge?

City Rep Maria Reyes
Today is Election Day in Socorro. Instead of focusing on the flood problems in Socorro, the community has an even bigger problem on their hands - the on-going antics of two of their city representatives, Yvonne Colon-Villalobos and Maria Reyes. 

Here is the latest from the dynamic duo. It appears the two may have intentionally missed a special meeting of Socorro City Council in order to avoid having an item appear on the November ballot of their Charter Amendment. 

And some in Socorro are saying that it is intentional and meant as a "payback" to the city manager. 

On August 21st of this month there was a meeting of council. If you click this link you will see agenda item 29. You may recall a previous post I did on this issue. The agenda item was for a formal complaint from the City Manager against District 4 City Rep Yvonne Colon-Villalobos, which the item specifically saying in part, "...and to discuss several concerns City Manager has regarding District 4 Representative's behavior/actions."

Having a city manager level a formal complaint against a City Representative is a serious situation. 
When you have an allegation leveled against a City Rep that rises to the level that it needs to be on an agenda, the community has a vested interest in ensuring that the issue is vetted publicly and thoroughly.

I have a feeling that whatever it is, its pretty explosive. The City Manager has a background in HR, so I'm betting she wouldn't take the step she took of making a formal complaint if she thought there was another way to deal with whatever the situation was.

But yet again, City Rep Maria Reyes appears to have led another effort to thwart due process in a similar fashion to the ouster of former Mayor Gloria Rodriguez. As I have previously mentioned City Rep Maria Reyes is a close political ally of the subject of the complaint, Yvonne Colon-Villalobos. Reyes had that item deleted, so there was never a public discussion of the issue. Here is confirmation that Representative Reyes was the person who deleted the item.

This is where things get interesting. And by interesting, I mean Socorro sad.

The following meeting was set because there were several items that Socorro City Council needed to put on a ballot for the people of Socorro to vote on because Socorro's City Charter was apparently written by idiots.

If you click this link you can see the agenda and back-up times for the meeting that was supposed to be held. There were a few amendments to the Socorro City Charter. But the one that people in Socorro say is the item that triggered the alleged retaliatory no-show from Colon-Villabos and Reyes was the item that changed the cap of the length of time that a City Manager can serve in Socorro. It is called Proposition C.

Currently the cap is 24 months. The issue that was meant to be put before the voters on the charter election was changing the maximum time someone can serve as City Manager from 24 months to 48 months. Essentially going from a 2 year term to a 4 year term.

So rather than show up to the meeting and allowing the Council to approve the measures to be taken to the voters, many in Socorro say that Representatives Colon-Villalobos, the two who just happen to be involved in the issue raised by the City Manager, both coincidentally couldn't attend the meeting scheduled last night to approve the items on the November ballot.

It is said that it was their "payback" to the City Manager for putting the Formal Complaint item on an agenda.

Here's is the last minute public notice that the meeting was canceled and oh look, check out the names of the two city reps who just coincidentally can't attend!

¿Que casualidad, verdad?

Well remember, Lorenza Fraire is in the one calling the shots. She wants her job back as City Manager and has been trying to reassure people that she doesn't have an ulterior motive by saying that she signed a document that says she can never work for the City of Socorro again. The problem is that the document can be undone by a majority of votes on council.

Why do you think she's been trying to get a majority on council?

Interestingly she goes to my church for mass occasionally. I guess her hypocrisy knows no bounds. 

Also noteworthy, City Rep Maria Reyes is on the November ballot for reelection. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Can She, Will She, Should She?


Yes, if she has the legal authority to do so.

Hell no.

I'm speaking of the replacement vote for County Judge Veronica Escobar.

She sent out an email telling everyone that she has a big announcement coming. Unless you’re as stupid as David K is pretending to be, you know that its her announcement for her congressional bid that everyone knew was coming the minute Beto said he was running for Cruz’s seat. 

I answered the questions already but lets take a second to go through it shall we? 

***Can she vote for her replacement? ***

Well according to the Texas Holdover Clause, she probably has the authority to do so. She stays in place until there’s a replacement. 

Normally when there is a replacement that needs to be appointed on the Commissioner’s Court, its Escobar that makes the appointment. She’s done so a couple of times, first with Precinct 3 when Willie Gandara got caught being his own narcocorrido and she appointed Tanya Chozet, and the other time was upon the death of Commissioner Dan Haggerty when she appointed Ready, Willin’, and Abelyn. 

She’s always been pretty deliberate when she appoints the folks on the Court and she ALWAYS makes sure its someone that she can exert influence over - although Abelyn wasn’t as lock-step with the Judge as Chozet. 

Sometimes she gets ahead of herself in her fervor to appoint a new ally on the Court that she misses stuff like Chozet basically having no voting record before she was appointed and absolutely no voting history in the precinct she was appointed to represent. Seriously, she hadn’t even voted in a school board race. 

With the County Judge vacating though, it is up to the Court to decide on a replacement appointee. And in the past when the Court has had to make those replacements, like in the case of the Tax Assessor Collector, they were pretty deliberate in their process. 

Which leads to the next question - 

***Will she vote for her own replacement?***

You bet your ass she will. 

Escobar announcing her intent to run for Congress - and she knows it means she has to resign - means she is no longer focused on the County. Thats clear from her twitter feed. Seriously, she tweets more than Trump and its almost always some federal issue…IRONICALLY immigration of all things. 

But Escobar wants to leave the County in the hands of someone she can still influence. She wants to have her cake and eat it too. So not only do I expect that she will vote on her own replacement, I’ll bet money she’s gonna try to come out of the gate with a hand-picked successor. Someone she can have influence over, but not close enough that it looks like one of her pals, because she knows that would be a campaign liability for a congressional bid. 

And I’ll bet Commissioner Stout will be the main ally pushing Escobar’s pick. Why? 

Because David K is a dumbass, thats why.

David K is of the opinion that Escobar wants Susie Byrd to run against David Stout for his commissioner’s seat. David K is an idiot. Why would Escobar want someone who votes with her nearly 100% of the time off the Court?

Commissioner Stout is Escobar’s biggest ally on the Court. 

But running the county is personal for her. She helped shape the county into what it is today, so she takes a lot of criticism related to her time at the county personal.

Very personal, and the fact that it is personal for her is a leadership weakness in her. When you take things personally, you tend to make emotional decisions, which are never good. I think we see the ramification of impulsive and emotional decisions every time we turn on the TV these days. 

The next person to resign to run will be David Stout. 

He’s gonna run for County Judge and he knows he has to start soon. He knows that Samaniego is a weak candidate, but he knows he’s already started and Norma Chavez is consulting with Samaniego’s campaign. He knows Norma’s not stupid and she’s gonna go after Stout’s lack of accomplishment as a Commissioner. 

Seriously, what has he done other than deal with ducks and have a hard time getting the water situation at Ascarate taken care of? 

Norma happens to feel very strongly about ducks, but seriously…that mailer against Stout for County Judge writes itself. A dark image of Stout laughing with a big questions mark after the words, “What the duck has Stout done for you?”

Stout knows that Leon is the big dog sitting on the porch - unless Perez decides to run. Mayor Cook has a few controversial things hanging over his head like the stadium and that Marie Antoinette impersonation he made during the big freeze a few years ago when he was annoyed at getting questions about frozen pipes in El Paso while he was in San Antonio and he responded “I’m not your plumber”. 

People in areas of the County that lack basic resources and amenities aren’t exactly going to be warm to a guy that already expressed ambivalence during a crisis. 

Leon has run Countywide before. He’s got name ID. He can raise money. He has basically no drama. He’s likable. He’s managed big budget and he currently serves on the Court. 

And he’s demonstrated political courage by being willing to take a tough vote like expanding the clinics. 

So Stout is gonna resign to run for County Judge and Susie Byrd isn’t going to run against Stout. 

Do I think Susie Byrd will run for that seat someday? 

Yep, as sure as I am that the County Judge will vote for her own replacement. 


But it’s not going to be during this election cycle. Byrd is going to help Escobar. They are ride or die close friends. There’s no way either of them would run and not focus on the race 100% (to her credit I might add. Having a ride or die friend is never a bad thing). They never have before, why would they start now, especially now that Escobar is running for the biggest race and has the chance to be the first woman to represent El Paso in Congress?

***So now, SHOULD the County Judge vote for her own successor? ***

Hell to the no she shouldn’t. 

The big knock on Escobar is how controlling they perceive her to be. This would feed into that narrative of Escobar obsessively needing to be in control. 

Just because you CAN do something doesn’t me you SHOULD do something, and this is one of those times when I don’t think she should vote. 

If the County Judge is resigning she should learn to let go. The Commissioners should try to get a unanimous vote if possible, after all they are the ones that will have to work with the new County Judge until the people elect someone else. The Judge trying to influence her own successor will only harm the organization at a time when there is an opportunity for them to come together. Not allowing Commissioner's Court to unify around their own pick demonstrates that she doesn't trust them to make a big decision. If she is gonna resign to run for another job, then resign.

She will be announcing her congressional bid. She knows that means resigning as County Judge. So let the Court decide on who they want to lead in the interim. 

They are the ones that are NOT leaving their job to run for another one. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

El Pasoans Have to Sue State Tejanos for Access to Data

Fred Cantu
The State entity for the Tejano Democrats apparently doesn't want to turn over contact information to the El Paso chapter of the organization because they are both competing for the State Chair office in an election to be held at this weekend's Tejano Democrats.

Former City Representative Eddie Holguin has filed a lawsuit to force the group to allow him access to membership data so that he can campaign for the State Chair.

According to former State Treasurer of the Tejano Democrats Fred Cantu, an unnamed State Democratic Executive Committee person from may have also leveled a veiled threat towards Democratic United States Senate Candidate Beto O'Rourke's campaign.

Cantu appeared to be really focused on a personal dislike of Othon Medina but stated that, "'To quote a SDEC member from San Antonio: "...all he is doing is alienating everyone else in the state; El Paso can not elect Beto by themselves.'"

If true, that SDEC member is potentially breaking TDP rules. Texas Democratic Party rules mandate that Party Officials, with an SDEC is, are required to support the nominee in an election. If the quote from Cantu is accurate, then the SDEC member is implying that they weren't going to support Beto O'Rourke against Ted Cruz.

All because they don't like Othon Medina. 

By Cantu's own admission, there is nothing in the State's bylaws that prevents sharing basic member contact information. 

But more importantly - if Holguin's allegations are true - which Cantu confirmed in his email exchange with me - the data being withheld is a pretty blatant example of voter disenfranchisement within an auxiliary of Texas Democratic Party.

And the flagship Latino-based auxiliary of the Democratic Party.

Current Chairman Joey Cardenas campaigned with all the chapters, including the El Paso Chapter when he ran last time. Sources within the Tejano Democrats indicate that Cardenas got the contact information, the very same information Holguin is asking for, from none other than Othon Medina. Medina was the Chair and Cardenas was running against him.

I'm not defending Medina. I've chronicled his activities more than anyone else. But this isn't about Medina. This is about fair play and a level playing field in the states premier Latino-based auxiliary o the Texas Democratic Party. This isn't the place for personal beef.

Cantu leveled other allegations in his emails including that Holguin was a "puppet" and even implied that Medina was bankrolling the memberships of the El Paso Chapter. There is absolutely no evidence to support such a claim.

I guess other parts of Texas think we poor border Mexicans can't come up with our own membership money.

The El Paso Chapter, officially known as the Paso Del Norte Chapter, has experienced tremendous growth under Holguin's leadership, primarily because Holguin has a level of credibility among Latinos in El Paso that previous leaders haven't had. Also his wife Illiana is the Chair of the El Paso Democratic Party and also has more credibility than previous chairs.

The real question is why are Latinos in other parts of Texas so set against a fair, transparent, and competitive process for the state chair seat? At a time when we Democrats are trying to hold the GOP accountable for voter suppression and disenfranchisement, the fact that getting basic contact information of members from the State Tejanos requires a lawsuit is an embarrassment.

Dora Part 2 - Its Worse & Policy Needs to be Addressed

When I wrote my post yesterday I got a flood of people contacting me about her. People really don't like her taking her husband's place when they want to hear from the person they elected.

Its also apparently NOT the only time she's gone and made a presentation in his place. When I wrote about it the first time I was talking about a neighborhood association at the Marquez library on Yarborough near Bel Air the other night.

I have now been told that it has been other places as well where she has filled in for Representative Rivera. Witnesses indicated that Oaxaca has indicated that she goes because her husband is working because he doesn't get paid very much as a city rep.

Which is weird because they both knew the amount of money the reps make before they ran for the position. So the representative not showing up to community meetings because he has to work another job is a bad visual for the newly elected Representative Rivera.

But here's the more important question.

Why isn't his staff doing the meetings instead of Dora Oaxaca?

I've worked for an elected official. I can tell you that pinch hitting for the boss at events or meetings is part of the job. Sometimes the boss can't be at two or three places at the same time and they send staff. Every elected official reading this knows that you send your staff, you never send your spouse. So when she worked for Willie Gandara, Chente Quintanilla, and Emma Acosta and she gave presentations, no problem. Its part of the job of a staffer.

But as a spouse, you have no official role and when you are speaking on behave of an elected official - you are acting in an official capacity.

You know who else should be concerned about this?

Forma Group.

Oaxaca is now recruiting candidates for Forma Group. I've now had 4 different candidates, mostly judicial, that have been freaked out by Oaxaca reaching out to them to try to get them to go with Forma Group. Her pushy and overly-aggressive style isn't going over well with the candidates, so Marquez might want to rethink how much they want to make Dora the face of Forma to candidates.

Rivera has to stand up to his spouse and tell her that he's the elected official and not her. He should be sending staff, not a spouse.

I'm surprised that this isn't already a policy for the city. When a City Rep visits a neighborhood association, or his/her staff, or city staff - the represent the City of El Paso. There are potential liabilities when they attend those events. If they do something that compromises the legal position of the City, there are ramifications and accountability.

What can the City do when its the spouse of an elected official?

City Rep Noe is gone a lot. Not sure how in the hell he ended up as the Mayor Pro Temp when he is always gone because of his work (other than the obvious reason), but he does send his wife to sit in on meetings for him - much less have her present on his behalf.

What happens when a constituent asks a question? Is it the City's response? The Representative's response? Or Dora's response?

Another fun little nugget. Apparently the field office for District 7 is near the corner of Montana and Hawkins. Sound familiar?

Yeah, it used to be the field office of where Oaxaca used to work for City Rep Emma Acosta. One problem, that was District 3. It defies logic that district 7 constituents would find a field office in another district useful. The purpose of having a district office is to make government more accessible to the district residents by keeping an office near them. There are now parts of district 7 that are closer to downtown than the former District 3 office that they are now using for district 7.

Seriously, this shit doesn't even happen in Socorro.

This is a bad situation and needs to be addressed. You wouldn't think these situations would even need a policy solution, but apparently they do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

When You Substantiate Everyone's Fear...

The biggest thing people were afraid of when Dora Oaxaca ran her husband for City Rep was that she was going to be the defacto city rep. 

Well last night at the Yucca Park Neighborhood Association meeting, Dora Oaxaca gave a presentation to the organization on behalf of her husband, City Rep Henry Rivera. 

Thats exactly what everyone was afraid of. 

As it is Oaxaca has had to be reigned in previously by her bosses by too often taking on the role of the elected official. 

He hasn’t even been in office one fiscal quarter yet at Dora is already doing community meetings for him. 

I can't think of another situation where a spouse did the job of an elected spouse. 

That situation is going to get a lot worse before anything is done about it. 

The Trouble With Samaniego's Legacy

Under the Trump administration immigration has been even more of a hot button issue lately in politics.

And for whatever reason, it has caused a tremendous amount of hypocrisy in some leaders that have long been for immigration reform, some of them trying to make their position not sound like a completely hypocritical about-face from the rest of the political resume, a candidate with no accomplishments and who's immigration platform sounds like that of a Republican instead of a Democrat, and some former electeds backing some interesting choices that really don't make sense.

So immigration is an issue that isn't going away and will become of greater and greater importance.

Enter County Judge candidate Ricardo Samaniego. Samaniego is pretty much running on one thing, his last name. And if he is running on more than that, then his communication has been failing him because the only thing you see pushed about the guy is his last name.

Oh, and they underline the "go" in Samaniego.


Anywho, they are pushing his last name so hard that they actually reinforce it with a tag line of "A Legacy of Service", which is obviously trying to capitalize Sheriff Leo Samaniego's last name.

The problem is running just on the Samaniego name is more than just problematic. Its potentially a big liability. What do I mean? Well just this Saturday there was an immigration reform rally.

A member of the Border Network for Human Rights, Gabriela Castañeda spoke at the rally about her personal experience with her spouse. Gabby is a friend of mine and former colleague. The short of it is that Sheriff Leo Samaniego used to conduct checkpoints that really weren't for speeding or insurance checks. There were designed to catch the undocumented.

It was some Joe Arpaio style policing before Joe Arpaio was doing it. The thumbnail of the story is that her husband was pulled over, they asked him for documents and he produced a Mexican document and the deputy called the Border Patrol and he was deported. She sees her husband only very rarely. Usually just for about 15 minutes once a year at the Hugs, Not Walls event where special permission is granted to families to meet in the middle of the Rio Grande for a few minutes. Its pretty tear-jerking stuff if you've seen it.

Breaks your heart.

Here's Gabby telling part of her story.

So for a lot of people, when they see the Samaniego name and a "legacy", that is the legacy they remember and think of. Samaniego is going to have to do more than rely on a last name if he wants to be a viable option for County Judge. He has to start talking about actual policy proposals instead of relying on a last name.

He has some time to get that done. Norma Chavez is his campaign consultant and she was part of Lizarraga's team that recently put a beat down on Carlos Sierra's candidate. Norma is a process person - now she has to be a policy person and change the message from relying on the last name to something of substance. She has plenty of time to get that done as long as Samaniego is a good pupil.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Socorro City Manager Asks for Formal Complaint Against Council Member

There is something not right going on in Socorro tonight at their City Council meeting.

Here's a look at their agenda and there is an item on there regarding a dispute about the City Manager and District 4 City Rep Yvonne Colon-Villalobos. According to City Staff in Socorro that I have spoken to, and watching any of the last few council meetings this year, Representatives Colon-Villalobos and Reyes have been wanting to get rid of two people...the City Attorney and the City Manager.

But what is also interesting is that there was a memo that came out asking that the item be deleted. The memo was sent out by Colon-Villalobos' close political ally, City Rep Maria Reyes.

The fact that there would need to be an agenda item from the City Manager filing a formal complaint regarding a sitting City Representative's actions is out of the norm, even for the City of Socorro. The item actually goes on to say "...and to discuss several concerns City Manager has regarding District 4 Representative's behavior/actions."

So why is a close political ally of District 4 City Rep Colon-Villalobos asking for the item to be deleted?

The question to consider before that, is what happened that was so bad that the Socorro City Manager had to have an agenda item to discuss the issue? Why is this something to be concerned about?

Because the City Manager used to be the HR person for the City of Socorro.

If a City Manager, with a career background in HR is going so far as to put a formal complaint on the agenda about a sitting City Rep, it must be pretty bad.

And the fact that a political ally of that City Rep is trying to delete the item looks like a cover-up. The meeting today takes place at 6pm at the municipal building on Rio Vista.

The City of Socorro is actually trying to pass their annual budget, a budget that will cut taxes. If for some reason the City Reps in question actually fail to attend the meeting tonight, perhaps as a strategy to avoid the conversation, there may be an inadvertently HUGE impact to the people of Socorro.

Failure to establish a quorum tonight may result in the City of Socorro having to go to the effective rate for their tax rate, which would mean that it would cost the people of Socorro a tax cut!

Samaniego Event Invitation

I've mentioned to you before that as a courtesy to candidates I will post any campaign event info that is sent to me. As a reminder - the posting of any event is done as a courtesy and should not be construed as support for said candidate. I may or may not like the candidates that I am posting information for, I post them all equally if I am asked to.

Here is the first one I have received of the campaign season:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Council Should Change Street Name to Honor Huerta

In light of the recent events in Virginia that led to the death of an innocent person all because a bunch of racists wanted to keep a statue, I think its time El Paso City Council change the name of Robert E. Lee in east central El Paso.

And I think the best thing to do is use the opportunity to honor a Latina civil rights leader and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom who doesn't have any major thing named after her in El Paso, Dolores Huerta.

We shouldn't be honoring confederates. They were traitors to their country and took up arms against the United States. There's no getting around that basic fact. You can spin it anyway you want, but confederates were the enemy. The cause they fought for was to preserve the ability to enslave other human beings.

As a veteran, it has always bothered me to see statues and street names after confederates. Fort Bliss has several, including confederate General Jeb Stuart. And that is on a military installation! They were the enemy,

While being a slave owner was certainly not unique to confederates at one point of our history, and yes most of our Founding Fathers were slave owners. But only confederates actually took up arms to preserve the ability to hold their fellow man in bondage.

It is an insult of the highest order that a predominantly Latino community and a military community like El Paso has a street named a traitor to his country. Its brings dishonor upon us.

Especially when one considers we are home to the first all black team to win an NCAA championship in basketball and were one of the first communities to desegregate.

We can't deny, nor forget our collective history.

But we don't have to honor bad people or portions of our history. We should learn from it to better ourselves.

The impact of changing the name in practical terms is minimal. The street is small. There are no residences on it and very few businesses.

Rather than honor someone who killed patriotic American soldiers to protect the economic institution of slavery, ensuring the subjection of African-Americans and ensuring they had no rights as citizens, we should turn the name change into a positive and honor someone who was a civil rights leader.

We should honor a woman who was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from our first African-American President, Barack Obama. That is the most poetic way of correcting a wrong that is long past due.

City Representative Cassandra Brown represents the area where the street is located and sent me the following:

"I'm currently meeting with the businesses on Robert E Lee Street to determine their support for a citizens initiative to rename the street.  There may be unintended consequences to the businesses and their support to agree to absorb any costs to their businesses is critical on my decision. There are three business I was able to identify. I'm going door to door this morning. Several members of the public are interested in following the city's process to rename a street and efforts to fundraise to cover the street renaming costs are underway by the interested parties. If all stars align, I'll be reaching out to African American organizations to assist with the renaming.
I'll keep you posted on any progress if this happens.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Understanding the County Pay Raise

Considering two commissioners used to work in communications (Commissioners Perez and Stout for those of you playing Commissioners Court - The Home Game), you would think they'd do a better job of explaining to the public the logic behind their new elected officials salary policy. The fact that Commissioner Haggerty and Commissioner Perez voted on same side and actually got a 3-2 majority (for a pay increase of all things) says a lot. 

Before we go any further, understand that the County PROBABLY is not gonna raise your taxes. So you most likely aren't paying more taxes for this raise specifically.

For years, the commissioners court and all other county elected officials like county court judges, Justices of the Peace, the District Clerk, County Clerk Tax Assessor, etc, viewed themselves like other county employees. 

Problem is they aren't. 

Regular county employees and department heads are on a step plan with pay grades. 

Elected officials aren't. 

Their salaries have to be set by commissioners court every year. (It's state law). But without a salary policy how in the hell do commissioners know if they're paying too much, too little or just right? 

For years, if county employees got a step increase and/or a cost of living adjustment, the commissioners court would grant elected officials the same, as if they were similar to county employees. Regular employees can max out their steps and not qualify for a step increase, even if the commissioners court approves one. 

Here's the really bad part - for elected officials, there is no cap. So, commissioners courts in the past would add the step and cost of living increases together and grant it to all elected officials, thinking they were being fair. But since there is no step plan or caps for electeds, it was a stupid practice that led to judges, and other county officials getting increases every year. 

So if you're mad a bloated salaries, there are plenty of electeds to be mad at who for years made a whole lot more than Commissioners and the County Judge. Commissioners courts were more concerned about their elections that they would exempt themselves or give themselves smaller increases that they would give county employees, mostly because they didn't have the balls to put up with complaints or media attention. 

Now this is REALLY gonna piss you off. Up until last year, District Clerk Norma Favela, County Clerk Delia Briones, and Tax Assessor Ruben Gonzalez all made more than the county judge! 

So you wanna be mad at someone, be mad at them for having the audacity to take that pay for years and get mad when it comes to light they have been getting paid more than the market (read over-paid)

Wrap your head around that. Those are glorified department heads...and they were making more than the freaking County Judge. Thats a perfect example of how bad the old policy was. You think for one second Norma Favela does anywhere near what the County Judge and Commissioners do? Do you think she has anywhere near as much responsibility? She basically makes sure papers are filed correctly. Important work, but nothing compared to the responsibilities of the court. 

Trust me, she ain't out until 2am or 4am in the valley in the pouring rain helping out with the flooding.

Justices of the peace (who marry and evict people, and deal with traffic tickets) had higher salaries than commissioners who oversee their budgets! It was a practice that made absolutely no sense.

For the first time that I can remember, this is the first time a commissioners court has tried to make sense if elected officials' salaries. They took the ten largest counties in Texas (four are smaller than El Paso), got the average salary for each elected position, and made it a policy to pay all elected in El Paso 30% less. By comparison, for regular employees, their salaries are near or at 100% of the ten largest counties. 

So what's happened? 

For two years in a row, while county employees got steps and cost of living increases, the majority of elected officials got ZERO. 


Because after years of increases, most are above the new policy (and still are). Trust me, Favela was the main elected that was PISSED! 

While commissioners granted a 1.6% cost of living adjustment for all county employees, based on the new policy, salaries for elected officials in the Texas counties rose 1%. While commissioners could have taken the easy way out and punted for themselves they stuck to the policy. 

Unfortunately for them, the headlines will focus on their 1%. Which is entirely their fault because, well they suck at explaining things. 

With about three dozen other elected and appointed officials (most with significantly higher salaries), that got ZERO, I'm willing to guess the county saved well over a quarter million in salary increases under the new policy in the last two years. But commissioners court have been lousy in communicating that. 

Oh yeah, County Judge Escobar voted against the 1% increase (slow clap). She voted for the big increase for commissioners last time, but hey, she's running for congress now...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Source Accuses Carlos Sierra of Infamous Robocall, Sierra Doesn't Deny

A source reached out to me recently leveling some strong allegations against controversial local political consultant Carlos Sierra. I made repeated attempts with Sierra to get his side of the allegations.

The source alleged that Sierra was operating covertly with several campaigns recently, misrepresented himself, was in a fight at journey concert that left him with an injured arm and a black eye, and further accused Sierra of "bypassing election laws, anonymous robocalls to get his hitlist".

After further conversation with the source, he identified several robocalls that Sierra allegedly created and sent, independently of an actual campaign against a group of people he identified on his "hit list".

If you recall an article from the El Paso Times a few years ago, Sierra ends it by identifying several elected officials he wanted to get rid of in El Paso politics included both County Judge Veronica Escobar and then-City Rep Emma Acosta.

Escobar was the target of a robocall of a disguised voice that was very negative. That robocall came from a PAC headed by Mike Armstrong. Sierra worked on Armstrong's subsequent city council campaign.

In the recent mayoral election Acosta, who was an out-going city rep and mayoral candidate was the target of a now infamous robocall that took a personal shot at Dora Oaxaca's physical ailment. Oaxaca is missing an eye, which was referenced in the call.

To refresh your memory, here is the call:

The call was reported in local media and was widely criticized for its negative and personal tone, but no one took responsibility for sending the call. Then City Rep Limon, who was running against Oaxaca's spouse was accused by some of being behind the call but she had long before disavowed and disassociated herself from Sierra. Sierra had previously worked on Rep Limon's first campaign along with former Mayor Oscar Leeser's and several others.

Around that time Sierra had several legal issues pending and was facing felony charges for multiple DUI. When the news broke, most politicos distanced themselves from Sierra but after a few years he made a return to El Paso politics and has been working, or pitching services to several candidates.

The source indicated that Carlos Sierra had teamed up with a new partner and he and the other field guy were allegedly working on getting on board the Dori Fenenbock congressional campaign, which makes sense because a large portion of Sierra's work has been for Republican and Libertarian candidates. For the sake of the other field organizer, I'm gonna leave his name out of this because the source said many people were unaware of Sierra's past.

Here's a quick look at some of the conversation between my source and I. My comments are in green.

In order to ascertain the validity of the allegations made against Sierra, I contacted him and asked him directly about a couple of the issues that were raised. I asked him directly, multiple times, if he was involved in the aforementioned robocall and all three times he passes on the opportunity to deny the allegation.

Below are screenshots of our conversation so you can judge for yourself.

I was unable to get details on any of the other allegations because, well this:

So I guess he didn't want to chat any more. I'm sorry to report that I was unable to confirm whether or not he was in a fight at the Journey concert.

I spoke to former Rep Limon about the conversation with Sierra and she expressed relief that the information had come to light and reaffirmed that she had disavowed Sierra long ago.

When the infamous robocall went out, I asked Carlos Sierra if he was involved in it. I asked him because he was previously with Limon's campaign and hadn't heard if he was with her on this campaign or not. I honestly didn't think he would be stupid enough to do something as bad as that robocall because I know he looks at campaigns as his profession. People that do this as a profession know that their work is a reflection of them. They also know that when someone makes an anonymous call like that, it will lead to others doing it as well. Carlos Sierra and his background could be easy fodder for one of those style of robocalls and used against whatever campaign he is with. So I guess I'm guilty of being a little naive in thinking that someone like him wouldn't want to start a robocall war that could hurt candidates he's affiliated with.

Back then he obviously had a different tone. But again, you'll notice that he didn't come out and deny being behind the robocall then either.

I can at least partially confirm some of the allegations from my source regarding some of his campaign activities.

The sources also alleged that Sierra "doesn't make sense, he drunk buys domains to hang it over candidates heads that he is better than their current consultant."

Websites for campaigns are what they used to be say back in the late 90's and early 2000's. Social media has minimized their importance but I found out and wrote about Sierra doing just that a few months ago. He purchased a URL of her name and I asked him about it and he fully acknowledged doing so. He apparently does make a regular habit of doing so because he brags about being "a Go Daddy VIP member" and getting "them super cheap".

Here's that conversation.

What is really interesting about the website domain thing he does is the address he uses when he registers the domains. I got hip to this when I was reading this article from the Tucson weekly in Arizona. Most of the article outlines an investigation relating to Sierra with the Federal Elections Commission about possible rule violations with a mailer Sierra did for his congressional candidate client.

They mention is address and that the address is an empty lot.

Sure enough, its the same address used for securing the domain names, and yup, its an empty lot.

Now why Carlos Sierra uses an empty lot as his address I don't know. Its not on CAD. He clearly doesn't live there, unless he sleeps outside under the stars. I know that address has been used on other documents like campaign finance reports. I don't know if its illegal to use an address that is an empty lot on those documents.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Carlos Sierra was recently separated from a campaign as a result of information from his past being revealed.

This article in Roll Call outlines another time Sierra was let go from a campaign when his record came to light. In the Roll Call article the writer indicates that one Democratic insider was interested in becoming involved with the Draft Biden campaign until they learned Sierra was involved. The publication includes this quote form the Democratic insider:

"I remembered the name...I looked him up and got chills."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Quick Hits From My Notebook

Here's a few tidbits that I have written down in my notebook that are probably not worth their own blogpost so I'm just gonna bunch them up here for you:

Emma's Consulting - Former City Rep and opponent to open government Emma Acosta apparently now fancies herself as a campaign consultant. I don't know how the only major Latina candidate and Democrat who didn't even make a run-off to two lame ass Republicans has the balls to actually try to get someone to hire her to consult on a campaign, but Acosta is apparently pitching herself. Remember how terribly she did with Aliana Apodaca? Seriously, who in the hell is going to hire her?

Speaking of Emma, Dora Oaxaca is out trying to poach judicial candidates as a consultant now too.


D8 - Ya know, in all the excitement of the big come-from-behind win for Cissy Lizarraga that was quarterbacked by Michael Apodaca, I forgot to really talk about how shitty of a job the Cormel campaign did. What a lot of people don't know is that once again, El Paso's favorite shadowy consultant Carlos Sierra, was involved. Not sure who is going to pay the guy to run a campaign now after losing a race that he should have won in his sleep. That is a failure on the part of the campaign consultant if you have a huge money edge and went into the run off in anglo, conservative west El Paso with a white Republican and still manage to lose. Come on man, how the hell do you lose that one?

Sorry Chuck, you're no All-Star.

Oh hey, speaking of Carlos Sierra, I hear he's quite the Journey fan. Its a cool story, but that one most definitely will have its own post. I'll get to it a little later, trust me you aren't going to want to miss it.


County Judge Candidate Richardo Samaniego tripped out of the gate. The candidate who appears to be basically running on the last name of El Paso's former Sheriff, sent out an email for his campaign to government email addresses.

Big no-no.

Probably going to lead to an ethics complaint, which is bad for a candidate who is relying on a law and order family name.

There is another candidate running for Congress. Not really noteworthy and doesn't have a support base, but the crowded field is starting to look like the sheriff's race a few years ago when there was like 8 people running for the same position. Enrique Garcia is the guy's name. Nice guy, but no batch to victory.

Socorro Run-Off

The mayoral race in Socorro's run-off should be a no-brainer for voters. It features Elia Garcia, an attorney and municipal judge for the City of Clint, against Ivy Avalos. Avalos is a subordinate to another City Rep Yvonne Colon-Villalobos. Garcia understands government and the law, is educated, and has served on the Civil Service Commission for the City of Socorro.

Avalos' boss is a city rep.

Basically they aren't even comparable in terms of experience.

But here's an interesting little fact. It looks like Avalos has almost no voting history prior to being asked to run for mayor by her boss.

Ah yes, say it with me everyone..."Only in Socorro".

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fenebock Files: The Socorro Edition

What could be more fun than a Republican running as a fake Democrat for congress visiting a disaster site?

That's easy, the same thing that makes anything more fun...make it happen in Socorro!

Ah yes, our favorite faker took a little trip (probably her first) out to Soco-loco to go survey the flood damage.

Obviously this is political grandstanding at its finest/worst. If you would've included a press conference with the visit, I would've thought it was coming from Escobar.

But any who, Fenenbock went out to visit the county's second-largest municipality and took a tour. The picture below is probably Interim Mayor Rene Rodriguez explaining to her that Socorro isn't actually in the 16th Congressional District.

But I doubt Fenenbock is going to let a little thing like a disaster that didn't happen in the congressional district she's running for get in the way of a good ol' fashioned photo-op amirite?

However, Fenenbock's trip to Soco-loco, despite being the fakest thing I've seen this side of Pamela Anderson's boob job, does underscore something pretty interesting. If you read the complete text of Fenebocks sponsored post (yes, because it wasn't douchey enough to go, she needed to make the fake photo-op a sponsored ad) she gives County Judge Veronica Escobar a little chinga quedito.

Fenenbock says, "I am deeply committed to jobs and growth, but we must manage our growth by bringing together communities, in both incorporated and unincorporated areas, to understand everyone's needs and protect everyone's interests.
All of our communities and residents matter. Everyone deserves a safe neighborhood."
Obviously that is a shot at the County Judge who in fact does represent the citizens in the City of Socorro.  One Socorro city leader said they haven't seen the judge at all during the flooding. Or the flooding before that, or the one before that. The Socorro city staff and electeds tell me that her staff has been there but the Socorro city leader said they hadn't seen the actual judge in Socorro in at least four years except one time at a wedding reception last year. 

In fairness to the judge, the commissioners of a given area typically take the lead on these types of issues (unless it involves a press conference) because they and their staff have a better grasp of the area and the problems, but still - she's the County Judge, she should show up every once in a while. At least she didn't pull a Mayor Cook and say "I'm not your plumber". 

Going back to the Fenenbock Photo-Op, you'd think with all the money she has that she'd pay someone to mind her social media. Does she not know the subliminal message that is being sent when a candidate is sponsoring a social media ad to pain them in a good light that actually features a sign that says "Dead End"?

I swear, this campaign is the gift that keeps on giving. 

Mira lady, esta es el área donde estás tratando de ser congresista y esta es donde esta Socorro.  Entiendes?