Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Lower Valley Water District GM Under Fire

Lower Valley Water District General Manager Jack Alayyan faced a personnel issue at the last board meeting and the Board took no action on the item. Here's a link to the agenda item.

A source close to the situation alleges that there is an allegation of sexual harassment at issue. It was not clear what, if any, personnel action was taken against Alayyan.

A different source indicates that the Lower Valley Water District has allegedly already had to pay out more than $50,000 in settlements related to the Alayyan on another case related to sexual harassment.

The Lower Valley Water District is funded by the fees collected from areas they service including Socorro, San Eli, and Clint and other areas in the lower valley and a tax rate set by their board.

So their customers and tax payers are paying for this bill.

Lewis V. Stout II

So it appears that a rubber match may be in place for the County Commissioner Precinct 2 seat. Stout has been giving every indication that he is running for County Judge, mostly by jumping in front of anyone with a camera (including tourists) and commenting on just about anything under the sun that isn't in his lane.

But on social media he has a fundraiser titled David Stout for Precinct 2, although in the description he does leave open the door for a run at County Judge because he uses the phrase "next campaign cycle" instead of re-election and also talks about discussing "all the great work we've done so far in Precinct 2, as well as future plans..."

Also, if Stout isn't running for County Judge, that race just got even more boring - but coincidentally I hear a little rumor about another potential County Judge candidate that will change everything. More on that later.

Here's a screen shot I took from the Facebook event:


 

All the great work huh...

Apparently its going to be a short speech because I struggle to identify anything meaningful that Stout has accomplished. I mean he spent most of the term ducking around with Ascarate.

Lewis, well he has the same problem. What has Lewis accomplished?

Neither Commissioner Lewis nor Commissioner Stout have ever really been involved in a major policy initiative at the County, which is going to be a big challenge for them. Neither of them have a signature achievement while they were the Commissioner and suffered from being either in the minority or out-shined by other more effective members of the Court.

But now they both have a unique opportunity to articulate some sort of platform or policy direction, though I'm not optimistic that either of them will.

Here's a really succinct way to characterize the choice voters are going to have in front of them:

Commissioner Lewis that basically just said "no" to everything...

or

Commissioner Stout who basically just said "yes" to everything the Judge asked of him.

The problem for Stout is going to be where is he gonna go for campaign help? I mean he could probably go back to Chris Hernandez, but Hernandez is working on Fenenbock's campaign after leaving fellow Republican David Saucedo's campaign. Hernandez has no problem working multiple campaigns at the same time, other than winning them.

Being a sitting county commissioner is going to be hard for Stout to campaign because he needed every single minute of block walking to defeat Lewis last time.

Lewis doesn't know how to campaign effectively, so this race, if it actually materializes is going to be one of the more entertaining ones to watch.

Unless a Latino/a candidate gets in the race.

Then they are both screwed.

Lewis will have to go back to poetry and Stout will have to go back to the Kentucky club.

Breaking: Sergio Lewis Announces Bid for Precinct 2

Former County Commissioner Sergio Lewis has announced his bid to get his seat back on Commissioners Court. The seat is currently held by David Stout who is likely to run for County Judge.

Stout is holding out for announcing which seat he is going to run for, either County Judge or for re-election until closer to the filing deadline because of the resign to run clause. The Commissioner will likely want to get paid as long as possible.

Lewis’ press release cites holding the line on taxes, limited spending, and support for law enforcement as his successes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Socorro in Crisis; Mayor Tested

Socorro Mayor Elia Garcia
The City of Socorro is in a crisis of confidence with the community. It's as bad as the days of Jesse Gandara because the governance hasn't proved to be much different over the last year.

The floods that ravaged the town are analogous to their turbulent, and at times, destructive leadership in the County's second-biggest municipality over the last year.

They have a screwed up charter and ordinances because previous administrations have used them as tools to settle scores and minimize their opposition.

They have a new young Latina mayor who is an attorney, Elia Garcia. They have one more set of elections in November that will set the trajectory for the city for the next couple of years and there can finally be some common sense and strategic thinking in charge, or it can be more of the same failed leadership that has plagued that community for so long.

There is yet another agenda item that shows once again, the agenda for city council meetings is where people settle scores rather than think of common-sense solutions for the good of the community they serve.

I long for the days when I can stop writing about the circus of Socorro and the clown car that is their city council meetings.

Mayor Garcia has a unique opportunity to inspire a little confidence in the people that elected her by ensuring her political allies don't continue to use the city council meeting agendas as their personal tool for political payback. Because that is what is happening now.

Because of Jesse Gandara, the mayor's office has almost no power. They don't even have the power to veto and they vote only in the case of a tie, which almost never happens because Socorro has an even number of districts plus an "At-Large" City Rep, which means its usually an odd number and a tie is pretty rare.

But she can and should use the power of personal influence.

The agenda item reflects on her and looks like she is directing an ally to settle the score of an old contract she was competing for. An agenda item related to a contract she was competing for will be interpreted in no other way than political payback.

Socorro has had enough of that kind of government. Socorro needs to stop governing from emotions and vendettas, and govern from the stand point of common sense solutions to the many problems facing the community.

Socorro needs a strategic plan. Socorro needs a mutually agreed upon policy agenda and plan focused on problem-solving.

Socorro doesn't need more flawed personalities making decisions under the guise of being for the citizens when its really just a political payback. That is what has plagued that community for so many years.

Socorro needs change, not more of the same. Ralph Duran will have to face voters for once again in November for using the agenda to settle scores, but this is where the Mayor can right the ship.

And she has an obligation to, because she promised voters that she'd be different.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Three Candidates Thinking About Challenging Incumbents

So over the last two days I have heard that three different people might be considering a bid to take on three incumbents in the court house.

All three of the potential candidates are women.

Well one candidate probably drawing an opponent is in a court house, just not the main county courthouse. Rebecca Bustamante has been talked about as a probable opponent for Jesus Urenda, the JP out on the eastside. Bustamante is an actual attorney, which is rare in JP races. John John Chatman in JP 5 already has an opponent, also a Latina. Male JPs are going to be particularly vulnerable in the primary because a lot of women are going to be voting - primarily because of the congressional race which will mean that El Paso is going to have its first female member of congress.

Bustamante has been involved in the Party and in politics for many years and if she decided to run, you'd have to see her as a pretty strong favorite to unseat Urenda, who has been primarily worried about a challenge from Mayela Mejia, who recently confirmed she wouldn't be running against him.

I was annoyed that Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza was having a fundraiser when she didn't have an opponent because I have always looked at candidates that do that as selfish because there is only so much money on the table in El Paso elections. I didn't honestly think anyone was dumb enough to take her on because she's a young judge, smart, well-liked and her court is pretty drama free. Kind of the polar opposite of Judge Gonzalo Garcia who I'll be writing an interesting post about soon.

Anywho, word around the courthouse is that there is one candidate who is thinking of taking on Salas-Mendoza but that appears to be more of a personal beef. I think discretion is the better part of valor and after Salas-Mendoza's fundraiser last night, which was by far the biggest turnout I've seen in a while, the rumored opponent might want to sit the bench for this one.

Finally, Norma Favela is rumored to have an opponent as well. There have been morale issues in that office for years - they hate the over the top Halloween stuff they have to do every year and they hate that they get pressured to show up to vote for Favela in the favorite elected official category of Whats Up Magazine, which she proudly displays on the window to the entrance of the District Clerk's office. Come on, you didn't think people actually voted for a District Clerk to be their favorite did you? Of course she had people go and vote for her, most of you reading this don't even know what her office does and you're political!

Her opponent is still mulling things over but there's a budget waiting for the rumored opponent from what I'm told.

I'll drop more names as I'm able to confirm them.

Yawn...County Judge Race

Seems like lately there is a universal complaint about the lack of good candidates running for office. Hell that is pretty much all we heard out of the presidential race is a bunch of people, Yours Truly included, that held their nose for their candidate.

In the recent mayoral election I undervote because I just couldn't vote for either Republican, Dee Margo or Beyonce's stunt double David Saucedo...

Quick side bar - the minute he showed up at the protest at Duranguito the protesters started lighting up my phone about him showing up in those maaaaassss puuu sunglasses.

They couldn't understand why he was even there but once they saw him go live on Facebook they collectively rolled their eyes.

But those glasses David, come one man, no mames.

What I was REALLY surprised I didn't see and I found out later why, was Dori Fenenbock show up in the People's BMW with a bullhorn, the huelga flag, Bowie Bakery bread and some tamales from Gussie's for the protesters. I mean if you're going to be patronizing, go all the way I always say! Hell I'm expecting her to be wearing traditional Mexican dress, a sombrero, carrying a bottle of tequila today and haciendo el grito to show how much she loves our culture.

Anywho, back to the County Judges race. See, its so boring I can't even stay on the subject!

So Commissioner Stout is going to eventually resign to run for County Judge - or ambassador to Juarez, I haven't figured out which yet. But he will mistakenly wait until the very last minute to resign to run. Which will either trigger a special election or he'll do it in a way that someone he likes will have just enough time to slide right on in. In the mean time, he'll be visiting every girl scout lemonade stand and gathering of video cameras to jump in front of between now and then.

That leaves Samaniego, Cook, and the one I hadn't noticed until the other night, Laura Enriquez.

Samaniego seems nice, but he's 100% relying on name ID and that is actually a mixed bag. I haven't heard a single thing from him that sounds remotely close to a policy position. But its early and I haven't started interviewing candidates and haven't seen any forums yet, so the jury is still out on him.

Mayor Cook has a long track record in office. He was a great campaigner when he ran last time for mayor and he upset Joe Wardy. But you know what he's terrible at? Taking selfies! Geez, the Party should pay for some teenage girl with a bunch of selfies on her instagram to give them all a class on taking selfies. The only policy position on County Government from Cook was when he spoke during public comment and I didn't agree with his position, and County Government is COMPLETELY different from City Government, but I agree with him on some things too. Jury is still out on him too.

Laura Enriquez is the only woman running so far and I think women are going to be pretty successful in this primary. Her biggest issue is that no one knows who she is (in the electorate, not the legal community) and she's gonna have a hard time raising money. But if she has a decent field program, really works on messaging/policy and some name ID, she could be a contender given the field.

So far this is a snoozer race.

Commissioner Leon could have saved us from this torturous race! Someone start a Draft Leon bid...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hypocrisy: The Reyes Report

A frequent reader of the LSB sent me a screenshot that I obviously found very interesting. And by interesting, I mean hilariously hypocritical. Former Congressman Sylvestre Reyes posted this on Facebook and there were so many things that flooded into my brain when I read it.

First, the same people that were pissed that Beto O'Rourke used the name Beto instead of Robert are the same people completely okay with Dori Fenenbock using the term ¡Si Se Puede!

The same people that express pride in our culture, our raza, and our gente, the same people that want Latinos is positions of influence, are going to support a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, rich white woman.

Which is fine with me, but it makes me laugh when I hear them stroke themselves about how brown they are.

The other thing that makes me laugh is how he's not only blaming the demolition on Escobar, but how he talked about her handing out with Republicans. Now I'm not sure exactly what he's talking about, but this is the same guy who just a few days ago introduced Dori Fenenbock as a candidate for Congress and told Republicans to cross over and vote for her.

The guy who lost in part, because Republicans crossed over and voted against him.

The woman that has a mostly Republican voting record herself. And the woman who's largest expenditure was to an anti-gay consultant.

But the part that is most interesting to me was his use of one word...

CORRUPTION.

Why?

Because its more than a little ironic that a former congressman who left office amid the specter of an ethics investigation is leveling the claim of corruption against anyone.

Oh yeah, you memmer, memmer?

The then-Congressman Reyes was accused of a wide-range of things that would be considered corrupt including allegedly breaking federal law by allegedly holding "campaign meetings on House property", and allegedly "misusing campaign funds to pay for certain expenses related to his daughter's residence" according to this report from the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Click here to read the report and the supporting documents.

The Office of Congressional Ethics Board was made up of 6 members and by a unanimous vote they recommended that the House Committee on Ethics "further review the above allegation concerning whether Representative Reyes improperly used campaign funds to pay for certain expenses related to his daughter’s residence because there is a substantial reason to believe that a violation of House rules, standards of conduct, or federal law occurred."

The House Committee on Ethics never heard the case because the recommendation from the Office of Congressional Ethics Board came in November 2012. Reyes had already lost to Beto O'Rourke in the Primary and O'Rourke had already won the general election. 

Reyes and his supporters still haven't gotten over the 2012 loss. At this point they never will. 

So Ol' Silver and his congressional ethics investigation and Dori Fenenbock and the alleged bid-rigging scheme are kind of the last two people who should be throwing the word "corruption" around.

Next time you hear Fenenbock talk about a "change", remember who her campaign Chairman is. Remember that she did what Reyes did, she hired his family for her campaign. Thats not change, its just more of the same. 

Jaime Barceleau Replaced as Precinct Chair

Jaime Barceleau was replaced as a Precinct Chair last night. It was because he hasn't done anything for the precinct since he lost the election for City Council.

I told you that was going to happen.

I told you that he was only running for the seat because he was running for office.

All of you that he gave literature to and shook hands with when you were at the polling place and he was there making promises to you about how much he cares about the area...yeah, look how long that happened. Replaced just a couple months after the election by the woman who has been doing the work in that precinct for years, Isela CastaƱon-Williams.

Remember that about him. Because its part of the reason that no one trusts politicians. He swore an oath and he failed to fulfill the oath he took.

Downtown Demolition

Okay let me lay things out as I understand them about the downtown demolition that happened yesterday.

There was a court order that went into place on September 11th in the afternoon. That was a result of a court case filed by Max Grossman. The Court granted an 11th hour Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that would stop the City of El Paso from continuing with demolition.

So here is the part you need to pay attention to because there is definitely a screw up and definitely a bad guy here for everyone to be mad at.

The City of El Paso doesn't own the property yet. Its still owned by the property owners and the City is still trying to acquire the land. They property owners don't get paid for the property until the demolition is complete, which makes sense because its a cost savings for the tax payers and it avoids the scenario of there being some kind of court case that leaves the city stuck with property it can't do anything with and blighted buildings.

Grossman screwed up. He mentions the City of El Paso in the case, but didn't mention the property owners. The Court granted the TRO and the City had to halt their process and comply with the order.

But the land owners already had a demolition permit for their buildings. This is the part where people erroneously blame the City. The City probably doesn't have the authority to just revoke a demolition permit once its granted unless they had cause, otherwise the City would be getting sued all the damn time for pulling a permit because land owners put money into demolition projects.

Heres some basic facts and sequence of events:

***The property owners own the land, not the City. 

***The property owners had a demolition permit that was legally acquired when everything was green lighted. 

***A TRO is granted by the Court but the property owners aren't covered in the order because Max Grossman didn't enjoin them in the order. The central case he's making is that the City didn't comply with a Texas law before proceeding. His case wasn't against the property owners. He wasn't alleging they did anything wrong, he was alleging the City of El Paso did. 

***The City, probably knowing they didn't have the legal authority to stop the property owners (because this is Texas and property owners have a lot of rights to their own stuff) asked the attorney representing the property owners to halt demolition because the City was going to comply with the letter and spirit of the order. 

***The City asked because they didn't have the authority to TELL them. 

***The land owner, knowing there was a TRO in place, having been asked to not proceed with demolition, went ahead and started anyway. 

You know how I know that the City didn't screw up here and the screw up was with Max Grossman?

Because no one was held in contempt of court. 

As much as people want to read into the language of the order, the order doesn't say what it wants them to say. After reading news reports, which I highly recommend people do so that they get informed on the basic facts, the residents were originally part of the action that Team Grossman was requesting relief for, and somewhere along the line, Team Grossman or the Court didn't include them in the emergency ruling the Court issued on Monday.

Is the property owner that saw the big giant loophole and drove a front loader right through it an asshole? If you ask me, yes. It was a dick move to start the demolition, even though at the end of the day its his shit and he can do what he wants with it.

Was he violating the Court's order? Not if he wasn't named in it.

There is a rush for people to say, Well the City should have revoked the permit when they got the order and they didn't, therefore they are violating the order. 

Okay, under what authority? You want the government to just suddenly invent authority it doesn't have because someone else screwed up?

The property owner knew about the Court Order. The City advised the attorney representing the property owners that there was a Court Order in place and requested that the property owner comply with the order even though they weren't named.

The City explained they were going to comply and took the extra step of asking the property owner to comply.

The property owner knew all of this and proceeded anyway. Thats the guy we should all be mad at. And frankly, Lizarraga needs to do more than just put an item that revokes permits - thats already been done by the Courts.

She should put an item on the agenda making the property owner reimburse the taxpayers for the police they had to have there to maintain order.

Also, shoutout to the media that covered this story all day. I know its all the fashion these days to trash journalists but they reacted quickly to a breaking story and they used all the tools in their toolbox to bring you the stories throughout the day, including their social media.

Good hustle. I know that people on both sides of this issue think you're supposed to be their mouthpiece for their position, but if they are all pissed at you, then you're doing your job.

Also, shout out to former City Rep Eddie Holguin for bringing pizzas and water out to the protesters that were exercising their first amendment rights to free speech. He risked getting arrested to make sure he "fed the troops" as it were.

Also to the police for keeping order.

So now the correct order is in place. Now if the property owner proceeds, he will be held in contempt.

Commissioner David Stout...

We get it, you're running for County Judge...enough already...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Video: Fenenbock Advocating for Controversial Contract

I was wondering why Dori Fenenbock rather abruptly chose to resign from her position on EPISD on a Friday night of all nights.

Obviously I knew that it had something to do with this story run by the El Paso Times and several other news outlets in town about controversial Superintendent Juan Cabrera and some major problems with the bidding process for the largest bond ever attempted in El Paso County.

After all, Fenenbock and Cabrera are BFFs.

At first I thought it was just really bad campaign messaging because well, honestly Fenenbock's messaging is pretty terrible, even by El Paso amateur hour standards.

But it wasn't until I saw this sponsored ad by Dori Fenenbock's campaign that it clicked to me.



Dori says things that are rivaled only by Donald Trump and David Saucedo on the El Paso political bullshitometer in this post, but what really got me was two things. First, her talk about corruption and most specifically - in schools. I underlined that part in red.

The next part I want you to take note of is in green - the rich and powerful line. People have accused me of making this race a class war, so next time you do that pay attention to what your own candidate is saying. She's making it a class war.

But newsflash Dori - you ARE the rich and powerful. I guess she thinks she's starring in an El Paso adaptation of Dangerous Minds where she comes in to the minority and plays white savior to all us poor brown people.

Anywho, back to the allegation of corruption...in the schools.

Well I guess I was a little slow on the uptake, but not only is Fenenbock tied to that controversial bid at EPISD that if it isn't outright corruption, sure in the hell smells exactly like the corruption scandal this community suffered through for years, but she advocated for the contract.

Don't believe me? I thought you might not, so don't take my word for it, listen to her for yourself. Its item 8c for those of you playing EPISD Scandal in the Making: The Home Edition.



So for those of you who say that it was the voters that approved the bond and its not on Dori, here's what I have to say to that.

Dori Fenenbock pushed for the bond and took the CENTRAL role in its passage. I wrote about it back then that it was strange that she was taking such a central role. Allow me to read from the Book of Jaime for a moment please:

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.

I wrote about that almost exactly one year ago. September the 15, 2016 to be exact.

She has cited her time on the school board as part of her qualifications for running for office on her campaign website (along with a fake math problem in the picture, lol).

And now you have video of her not only voting in support of the controversial Gafcon contract item, but she's the only member of the board that actually spoke in favor of it. She knew that it was opposed by Trustees Velarde, Byrd, and Dye and rescheduled the meeting to a day she knew Byrd was out of town in Washington.

Boy did that backfire.

So if Fenenbock was that concerned about public corruption, specifically in schools as she herself stated, then why didn't she stick around and at least put an item on the agenda to look into the issue? Instead she abruptly resigned on a Friday night and left the problem for the rest of the board to deal with - while having the audacity to talk about corruption.

Trust me, the hypocrisy of double-talk of Fenenbock doesn't stop there.

More to come...because someone has to sift through all the bullshit out there.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fenenbock's Announcement & Cultural Exploitation

I've always hated when people who are not Latino feel like they need to speak to us in Spanish. I've been writing about it since Shapleigh used to do it regularly.

Thats just flat-out old school pandering.

But Dori Fenenbock took things an embarrassing step further during her announcement for the congressional seat currently occupied by Congressman Beto O'Rourke.

She crossed the line from pandering into cultural exploitation. She used something from Chicano cultura for her own personal political gain and its shameful.

Also, its good she was wearing boots because she must've known the amount of bullshit that was about to come out of her speech.

The use of the chant of ¡Si Se Puede! was beyond pandering, it was cultural exploitation.

Now before David K, a rich white guy from privilege writes a blog post to defend a rich white lady from privilege about the use of a Spanish term he doesn't even understand the cultural implications of, let me explain why it bothered me so much that Fenenbock had the audacity to use it.

¡Si se puede! was the rallying cry used in the fields to organize workers that were treated like 20th century slaves. It was the rallying cry of the poor, disenfranchised, and exploited workers who were taken advantage of because of the color of their skin and for profit.

People like my mother. My mother was a farmworker. As were my grandparents and my uncles and aunts. They toiled in the hot Arizona sun going from farm to farm to work the fields. It was long hours of back-breaking work. If you have never done it, you can't fully appreciate how terrible "la pisca" really is. Long hours of work before and after school, just to contribute a small amount to the household income - and later in life, your body pays the price.

¡Si se puede! was what they chanted on the picket lines in the fields when organizers for the United Farmworkers Union, like my father, conducted strikes and boycotts to call attention to the plight of the most humble of people who couldn't afford lawyers and fancy PR firms to tell their story.

And right now, I can't honestly tell you who I'm more pissed at - the rich white lady who said her biggest struggle was being a bailiff while in law school and used the term because she was standing in front of a bunch of brown people, or the brown people that clapped and chanted along.

Speaking of her "struggle" - she should stop talking about how working as a bailiff while she was in law school was her big struggle in life.

Give me a break.

That kind of income is a career goal for most El Pasoans, but to her it was roughing it. A bailiff earns significantly more than what the average El Paso family makes in a year. Struggle is having to push a car because its a clunker and all you can afford. Its going to collect commodities from a food pantry to make a meal for your kids. Struggle is having to work a couple of jobs to make ends meet, or sell plasma to pay a bill. Struggle is having to take your kids on the city bus to drop them off at day care before you ride the bus to work because that clunker finally gave out on you.

Struggle is having to work a couple of jobs to make what a bailiff makes.

There is a lot more I want to say about her announcement, particularly a round-up of all the hypocrisy that her speech contained, but I'll post that later today. For now, I want to stick with the fact that she used a rallying cry for the disenfranchised who struggled for the most basic improvements in working conditions as a punchline in her speech.

Here's a picture of my mom, the farmworker who now lives in here in El Paso, standing in the hot Arizona sun fighting for better pay and working conditions for the exploited, with her two oldest boys and pregnant with her first daughter.

I'm the handsome one on the left.


That lady right there, she can use the term ¡Si se puede! whenever she damn well pleases. She's earned it, along with countless other workers and supporters of El Movimiento over the years who's names are lost to history.

Because it belongs to us.

Its ours.

And its not for sale,  and its NOT to be stolen.

The "GG" Fundraising Strategy

I heard a funny story around the courthouse recently and since were are in campaign season I figured I'd write about it. I spoke to a few prominent attorneys in the courthouse that told me that Judge Gonzalo Garcia, commonly known as GG, has a rather unique fundraising strategy in mind.

He hasn't really ever faced a challenger for a seat but he is facing one now, Judge Monique Velarde. He is the judge that presided over the case against former Socorro City Rep Jesse Gandara, who need up with an extremely light sentence of probation following a conviction in a case that has since been turned over.

I believe that is the one and only time the District Attorney's Office actually pursued a public corruption case and they didn't present a single witness during the punishment phase of the trial. I was there for that trial. I sat through he entire phase of that trial. Jesse Gandara actually personally texted me (I was able to later confirm the number he was texting me from was his) to ask if I would speak on HIS BEHALF during the punishment phase.

I guess that makes sense. They found weed when they raided his house so he was clearly smoking something if I thought I would testify for the guy I helped campaign against in Socorro to kick out of office.

The light sentence infuriated the residents of Socorro and San Elizario and other parts of the valley. Judge Velarde has a strong base in the lower valley because her family is from Fabens and has a big base of support in Socorro.

Word around the courthouse elevators is that GG's plan is to get 100 lawyers to give him $1000 each.

I guess he doesn't review campaign finance reports but lawyers never give that much money for judicial races.

And frankly, it would probably be a news story if 100 lawyers were coughing up a $1000 each for a judicial race.

The talk around legal circles is that GG is PISSED that he has a challenger, so this race could get pretty interesting.

There's another interesting tidbit about GG that surprised me, but I'll save that for another day. But trust me, it'll surprise you too.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Socorro City Rep Subject of Investigation

Socorro City Rep Yvonne Colon-Villalobos is the subject of an investigation voted upon last night by the Socorro City Council.

The investigation stemmed from an agenda item that dealt with a formal complaint against her filed by the city manager of the city of Socorro.

The formal complaint cited a range of issues from essentially interfering with staff getting city work done because of having to be taken away from their job for politically motivated requests to a serious claim that Rep Colon-Villalobos implied that she didn't earn her position as the city manager based on her qualifications.

The city council will selected who will conduct the investigation at the next city council meeting. The action is very eerily similar to similar action taken by Colon-Villalobos and her council ally Maria Reyes against former Mayor Gloria Rodriguez. Representative Reyes absent from the meeting and has been absent from several meetings citing health concerns as the reason she has been missing a string of meetings as of late. Several Socorro residents have said that she's been missing meetings to avoid a quorum or not have to vote on controversial issues and have indicated that they have seen her around town on the days of the meetings she has missed, with one Socorro resident even indicating that she'd knocked on his door asking for his vote the very day she missed a meeting earlier this week.

Council deleted an item that would have held Colon-Villalobos and Reyes financially liable for the additional expenses the city of Socorro incurred in the last election due to alleged issues with their behavior at polling places. As a result, the City of Socorro had to pay for a sheriff's deputy to keep the peace at the polling places during early voting.

This item may come back to council despite being deleted because the formal complaint item was also deleted recently and was eventually considered by council.

For even more irony, this is far more due process than former Mayor Gloria Rodriguez was afforded by the same two city representatives.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Recording Raises Concerns About Socorro City Rep Colon-Villalobos

Fraire (L) Colon-Viallobos (Top R) Reyes (Bottom R)
Socorro City Rep Yvonne Colon-Villalobos is the subject of an official complaint from the City Manager of the City of Socorro. The complaint makes several allegations but a recording of a meeting between the representative, the City Manager, and the City Attorney, recording by Colon Villalobos herself, reveals that Rep Colon-Villalobos was warned 7 different times during the two-hour long conversation that the attorney was prohibited from providing advice on something that has potential criminal consequences for Colon-Villalobos.

The recording also contains a conversation in which Colon-Villalobos sounds like she's implying that the City Manager didn't earn her position on her qualifications, something which the City Attorney also warns her about.

The agenda item (along with the rather extensive back-up) can be seen here, and will be heard at the next meeting of Socorro City Council which will take place on Thursday at 6pm. Lately Colon-Villalobos and Maria Reyes have been missing city council meetings in what some in Socorro say is a deliberate attempt to bust quorum so that city business can't be heard.

Last night the new mayor and city representative were sworn into office. Predictably City Reps Colon-Villalobos and Reyes were not in attendance, though their attendance wasn't necessary to swear in Mayor Elia Garcia and Councilman Ralph Duran. As a result the absence of Reps Colon-Villalobos and Reyes will no longer result in a lack of quorum.

Colon-Villalobos has cited scheduling conflicts for several of her absences and Reyes has said that she's been ill however just yesterday a voter in Socorro told me she knocked on his door yesterday asking for his vote in the November election.

The rambling and often heated discussion went on for about 2 hours and centered around several complaints Colon-Villalobos had about issues that she felt made her look bad. The first issue and what appeared to bother Colon-Villalobos the most was the fact that city administration received letters of complaint about Colon-Villalobos and her political ally City Rep Maria Reyes from County Election Staff regarding their behavior during the last election.

That behavior led to the City of Socorro incurring an additional cost of employing County Sheriff Deputies for extra security to maintain order.

Because those complaints alleged criminal behavior the City's attorney Jim Martinez warns her a total of 7 different times that he cannot give her advice about the issue, going so far to saw that the City can't spend resources on an attorney giving her advice on issues that involve criminal allegations and that it is the same issue in which Colon-Villalobos and Reyes used to kick out former Mayor Gloria Rodriguez.



Colon-Villalobos also took issue with the fact that during the recent floods Rep Reyes didn't attend any meetings with constituents about the flooding and they were angry. YCV felt that it was the City Manager's job to not let Reyes look bad and tell the constituents that Reyes wasn't invited to the meeting. The City Manager explained that everyone knows that it floods when Socorro gets a lot of rain and that Reyes asked her to keep her informed. The City Manager says she gave City Rep Reyes an update but hasn't received any communication from Reyes since then inquiring about flood damage, recovery, or the condition of her constituents.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable part of the conversation is when the City Manager responds to a statement made by YCV that she felt implied the City Manager didn't get the job because of her qualifications. That drew a pretty diplomatic warning from City Manager Jim Martinez who throughout the recording showed a level of diplomacy worth of the State Department.

Well maybe not in this administration, but in a good one.



City Rep Yvonne Colon-Villalobos admits her campaign involvement against the now-Mayor of Socorro Elia Garcia and also alludes to a collective effort with Lorenza Fraire, although she also says of Fraire at one point, "I'm not trying to cover up for anybody, I'm not trying to be a Ms. Fraire".

Here is the entirety of the recording so that you can hear the entire conversation and the context.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Some Inside Baseball from EPISD

Turns out that Al Velarde was all set to be the successor to Dori Fenenbock for EPISD School Board President.

Al Velarde was a member of the audit committee. Sources indicate that it was Velarde who raised the AIPAC trip issue with the Auditors and that is how it got out.

What happened next? He was passed over and the Presidency went to the now-President of the school board.

Was it payback?

Thats for your to decide.

But no matter how you slice this EPISD scandal, which the superintendent pretty much admitted he shaped an RFQ to fit a particular bidder - is a big mess for Fenenbock. They have been tied at the hip since she became a member of the board. To the point where there were allegations that the Super was even soliciting support on her behalf if you recall.

Fenenbock has one of two courses of action to take - she can pull a Trump and blame the media and decry fake news or she can play tonta.

If she plays tonta, then she looks inept and since she's hanging her hat on her time at EPISD, well that doesn't bode well for her.

I'm gonna bet the farm on the Fake News approach. Which is STUPID beyond all belief but most of her campaign team is stupid beyond all belief when it comes to media and haven't learned their lesson from previous mistakes. I'll bet money she's already fired off emails complaining to local media about the coverage.

Here is the problem with that argument. That argument is predicated on the fact that the media has to not report on important stories because they might involved a congressional race.  Seriously, who believes that makes sense in America?

I know a lot of you have forgotten that the First Amendment is a bedrock issue that is carved out in the First Amendment to the constitution.

Expect this to turn into an attack on media. Mark my words.

Dori Fenenbock & Tax Hypocrisy

There's a reason that Fenenbock doesn't speak about specifics very often. Because when she does, she gets herself in trouble.

So I gotta call from a homie that was at the "annual Labor Day" breakfast today and was told that Dori Fenenbock was talking about the problem this community has with high taxes and the debt we are saddled with.

So hol' up - slow ya roll...

Like they said in Selena, "pues orale, rewind..."

You memmer this don't you?



This is Dori on election night for the bond. You'd think she was elected to something right? Even back then she had everything planned to run for congress. That bond election was what she planned to be her springboard toward higher office. Also, these pictures are from her campaign website.

It was all designed to be the Dori Fenenbock show. It was a marked difference from President Haggerty and the YISD board who were very low key in the passage of their bond. The President wasn't the center of the show.

Funny thing about that bond...that she is now getting heat over since it has been passed. The bond was the LARGEST EVER ATTEMPTED in El Paso County. Seriously it was the biggest ever.

Thats not hyperbole, its a fact.

So that is why I had to try to see if I could find video of what my homeboy told me Dori Fenenbock said at the breakfast because I couldn't believe it was actually a sentence that came out of her mouth.

If you watch this short video you will hear Fenenbock complain about two very interesting things - high taxes and debt.

Again, her claim to fame is passing the HIGHEST BOND IN THE HISTORY OF EL PASO COUNTY.

And then she has the nerve to complain about El Pasoans paying high taxes and the debt they have to deal with?

Well maybe if your political springboard wasn't the largest bond ever attempted in El Paso, Texas then people wouldn't look at you has a complete hypocrite. But when you pass the highest bond in the history of El Paso...guess what...youre kinda the problem. You can't complain about high taxes and debt when you're literally the reason why people that live in EPISD have to pay higher taxes and have a big debt to pay!

Seriously, I'm not making this up. Here's the video. Trust me, there is much more on Fenenbock's hypocrisy. More on that later.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Congressional Hopefuls No-Shows at Anti SB4 Event

Before I begin - Nicole LeClaire gets a pass for not being at the Anti SB4 event this last Friday. She's the congressional candidate that most of you don't know about but she lives in Houston and is running for the seat in El Paso. Yes, its legal to do that. No, I don't think it should be.

But that is besides the point.

Houston got whacked with Hurricane Harvey and for obvious reasons, she couldn't be in El Paso. No one should criticize her for it and here is a link to her campaign Facebook page. I know a lot of El Pasoans are helping out with various efforts, so keep on eye on that page and she may post something about where you can send a contribution to help flood victims in the area.

So I posted a question on social media and tagged both viable candidates to get some feedback from them about their absence from the event.

The only one that replied was County Judge Veronica Escobar. She replied,

"My family and I are in Boston right now, moving my daughter in to her dorm for her freshman year. We've been here since Wednesday night. We head home tomorrow...I've been very vocal on DACA.  I wrote a letter to the attorney general and I had other mayors and county judges sign on. I also worked with the national group on a national letter that was signed by a number of us from all over the country including state and local leaders. There were articles about both those letters in the El Paso Times. I've been tweeting about it frequently and watching closely. I mentioned DACA in my last New York Times op-ed piece as well. I've been very frequently and firmly on the record about it."

As you recall, I've been very critical of Escobar's position on immigration that I find hypocritical. You can see examples all over my blog going back to June. 

Dori Fenenbock has not responded at the time of this posting. While I might disagree with Escobar on part of her immigration stance (which I completely stand by and don't plan on dropping) - she has a record on immigration. Dori Fenenbock has no record on immigration. 

She has a few bi-polar comments on her website about the issue, but thats about it. Immigration in a border community - filled with Latinos that feel like the Trump administration has made us a target especially after the pardon of Arpaio - and she really hasn't said anything about it. 

This is why people fear she won't stand up to Trump.

This leads to a very serious question about Fenenbock's campaign...

How can any serious congressional candidate, in a border community, be so silent on immigration? Tomorrow the President is going to go after DACA. There's been nothing from Fenenbock on the issue. You can't tell voters in El Paso to vote for you and not comment on the national issue that most impacts El Pasoans at a local level.

Jerome Tighlman wants to keep the conversation going, but he wasn't there either. 

Homeboy of the Week, WTF of the Week!

Its been awhile since I've dusted off the Homeboy of the Week Award but its in order.

And then later, State Rep Lina Ortega needs to take look in the mirror. But first, the good then the bad.

City Rep Svarzbein is homeboy of the week. He went to the anti SB4 rally. Cesar Blanco is down for La Raza and fought it hard in the legislature, so of course he was there. He's really the chingon of the delegation at this point.

And Stout was there, but you expect Stout to show up. He's running for County Judge so if that guy saw a girl scout group with a lemonade stand he'd show up and issue a press release.

But Svarzbein showing up and speaking up is something noteworthy. As he said, he's the son of a Jewish immigrant from Argentina who recently passed. I was glad to see him show up. People notice who shows up to rally and marches. It might not feel like you accomplish anything, but showing up strengthens the commitment of those that do the grunt work of movements.

So kudos to Rep Svarzbein.

***********************
Seriously, WTF?!?!?!

State Representative Lina Ortega is probably the only elected official that I haven't heard from on the passing of State Representative Paul Moreno. While I was sometimes critical of Representative Moreno, there's not a Chicano in office that shouldn't be thankful for that generation of leaders like him that a) actually called themselves Chicanos and b) fought an establishment of leadership that created system oppression.

Those leaders are all gone now, and you'd think his passing would warrant comment from everyone. He was a giant in local politics - even when I was critical of him.

Ortega, not only as someone brown, but also as a woman, should be cognizant of the fact that others led he way for her. She stands on their shoulders.

And for the State Representative that currently holds the seat that Moreno held for over 40 years and she doesn't comment about his passing, is shameful.

She held her office opening on the day he passed. Was there a press release? Statement? Anything?

Nope. She didn't even devote 140 characters in a tweet about a guy who served this town for 40 years. Her tweet that day?

Fucking flowers from State Rep Gonzalez on her office opening. (not a critique of Gonzalez, btw)


And this is why younger leaders never show up to anything. They have no sense of history and why its important to show up to marches and rallies in their capacity as leaders. Ortega has been around a long time. She's old enough to have to appreciate the struggle he went through, so that she could run a race with no adversity because of her color or gender.

Shame on her. You hold his seat for God sakes, some comment, at the VERY LEAST was in order.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Latest EPISD Scandal Another Blow to Fenenbock

There's no way around this or explaining this away - the latest EPISD scandal is a major blow to the candidacy of Dori Fenenbock.

Aside from being yet another example of the district not being able to exert any oversight over embattled Superintendent Juan Cabrera - Fenenbock's one claim to fame was being a Board of Trustee for a short period of time.

With no track record of accomplishments to speak of, other than her time at EPISD which is what she has been banking on and why she made herself the face of the EPISD bond, this story that has been reported so far in the El Paso Times and on KTSM is a blow to Fenenbock's credibility.

And before people start framing this as a story of the big bad media against a candidate, lets not forget the history of the public corruption scandal, which included EPISD. Trump has made it fashionable to attack media and blame them for stories that he doesn't like and call it Fake News.

This story is a perfect example of why a strong, and adversarial media is often the last line of defense for the public when there are major issues like this.

And trust me, EPISD just passed the largest bond in the history of El Paso County, the tax implications to home owners are huge.

I can tell you right now, the Fenenbock campaign is going to make Susie Byrd the issue here. Why? Because they don't want you to look at the real problem here because it falls squarely in the lap of Dori Fenenbock.

So lets rip the bandaid off real quick and state the obvious - Susie Byrd is BFFs with Veronica Escobar and she's running for congress against Dori Fenenbock. Susie Byrd is on the EPISD board and was the one raising the issue.

All true.

But lets not forget something...trustees' responsibilities for oversight of tax dollars and how they are spent doesn't suddenly disappear because one has aspirations of congress and the other is BFFs with someone else running for congress.

Lets not forget the single biggest issue to shape the region over the last 20 years has been the public corruption scandal. Where did a big majority of the robbery of tax payers take place?

EPISD.

And after that it was a lack of oversight of Dr. Garcia that was the problem over the cheating scandal at EPISD long before his boat rescue this weekend.

Dori Fenenbock was not only a trustee, she was the President of the School Board. Her BFF was Juan Cabrera and they were running the show at EPISD since she got elected. There is absolutely no way to run away from that very central fact at this point.

Dori can't blame this on someone else - and saying she didn't know anything about meetings that she was reported to be at isn't going to make her look any better.

This is a serious problem. First, can we just acknowledge the fact that some asshole is making $1500 a fucking day off of your tax dollars?

There is serious waste going on here.

And when the district is spending the largest-ever attempted bond election money improperly and for duplicative services, it shows a real lack of leadership. Leadership from the superintendent and the board president at the time, Dori Fenenbock.

And guess who gets fucked when money is misspent and theres no more later?

The poor brown schools. Trust me, the westside schools and the Kern place elites are gonna be fine - its gonna be barrio schools that will get screwed in the end...because its always barrio kids that get screwed in the end.

Meanwhile people are bitching about a raise for the County Judge she didn't even vote for. This is like watching Trump, in this case Fenenbock, get elected and fucking up the world while people are crying about Hillary's emails. In this analogy, Escobar is Hillary.

Which is actually pretty spot on, because they both have a group of people who hate them no matter what they do. They could both cure cancer and come to their senses on this shitty jail contract and they would still hate Escobar.

Anywho...watch brown kids get screwed while the rich white lady throws around money at Democratic Party events.

The bottom line here is that we've seen this movie before. We know how it ends...ask Sal Mena and a few others. EPISD's Trustees need to get off their ass and exert some control over Superintendent. At some point this is dereliction of their duty if they fail to reign him in after the authority given to him by Fenenbock.

And Fenenbock now has yet another problem to answer to voters for - only now its about wasteful spending...