Thursday, November 30, 2017

Slap on the Wrist; Slap in the Face

I waited a long time to write this post because I have given it a lot of careful thought. This is one of those posts that I wrestle with and put a lot of time into, but will get less traffic than a post about kittens.

The reality of the fact that we now live in bizarro world (politically speaking) were almost nothing appears to make sense and there is so much uncertainty was the reason I decided to go ahead and write my thoughts down about the local judiciary.

Judicial races are under more scrutiny in this election cycle than others perhaps because of several factors in which the judiciary branch has taken a black eye in El Paso. That is why I chose the imagery I chose for this post - because ALL judges are being impacted by the actions of a few judges.

We've all seen the video by Judge Bonnie Rangel that was part novela, part cheesy defense lawyer commercial, part self-inflicted campaign attack ad.

Judge Mike Herrera had his own divorce in his own court for a very long amount of time. He's also rumored to be considering a stab at one of the County Court at Law courts in order to double-dip on retirement from the state and retirement from the county.

But perhaps the biggest black-eye to the judiciary in recent memory is the findings against District Judge Luis Aguilar of the 243rd District Court. B

efore we go further, this matter is closed. He's had his day in court, so to speak.

I personally really like Judge Aguilar and many of you probably know him from his many appearances on the Buzz Adams Morning Show on KLAQ.

Aguilar is a tough guy. A Marine's Marine. He's really tough on lawyers (which is what led to the complaints) and he's tough on people that get convicted. I've seen him in action. He's no-nonsense.

However, facts are facts. Allegations came to light against him having to do with how he treats people, use of his judicial power, and either not, or improperly, recusing himself from cases.

But personal feelings aside, there were a ton of findings that came out through their self-policing process that stemmed from nine original complaints filed mostly by out-of-town attorneys that had some experience in Judge Aguilar's court. Those complaints begat an investigation and a series of findings.

I mean a lot.

In a 65 point document from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Commission outlines a series of issues with Judge Aguilar including how he improperly handled recusals, should have recused himself and didn't, several contempt of court orders over-turned, issued an order for a prominent El Paso attorney to pay a contempt fine but did so in a way that made it impossible for the fine to be paid in a timely manner.

In his appearance before the State Commission on Judicial conduct Aguilar indicated that he would no longer proceed with show cause hearings, contempt proceedings, or issue arrest warrants for lawyers that are late for proceedings. That, to me at least, is a tacit admission that he shouldn't have been doing so.

The document specifically highlights the opinion of Judge Bañales, who was hearing a case involving a contempt charge issues by Judge Aguilar and his statement in the opinion he issued on the case was something that voters should know.

That is a pretty scathing sentiment coming from a judge about another judge.

And frankly, since we elect judges in this state, it would be naive to think that this report does not have dire political consequences for Aguilar. This report is why Aguilar is going to be in real election trouble this go-around if he ends up with a strong challenger. That report from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is full of quotes that can be pulled from it that would make a powerful message in a mailer or door hanger against Aguilar.

More on the political implications later.

One thing that was particularly disturbing about the report was the inclusion of complaints about how the judge dealt with the public, that is to say people serving - or part of the selection process for serving - on a jury.

Here's a screen shot of a couple of examples of what I'm referring to:

When you combine it with another incident highlighted in another part of the report about an attorney that was scheduled to have a c-section because of complications due to pregnancy around the time Judge Aguilar was trying to hold her in contempt of court, and it paints a very bad picture. A picture that not only reflects on Aguilar, but on the judiciary as a whole.

But this is the part where I'm probably gonna hurt some feelings, and frankly I'm unapologetic about that.

Here's the conclusion of the report:

Though the court issued a conclusion that I can only describe as gacho - do you know what their big punishment was for a judge that had 9 complaints leveled, probably many more instances that no one ever formally complained about, and a wide scale investigation conducted that lead to 60+ items in the report?

More education.

Seriously, I'm not making that up. He got the legal community equivalent of after-school detention. Thats it. Basically got off scot free. Hell, he got off even lighter than Jesse Gandara did in Judge Gonzalo Garcia's court!

So lets summarize this here - it took complaints largely from out-of-town attorneys of some pretty egregious behavior to even get the ball rolling and the Commission says that Aguilar "..willfully and persistently failed to comply with applicable law..." and all he got was extra education?

That sends a terrible message to the community. It sends the message that judges are above the law. It says that they will protect their own. Because I guarantee you, if any of us were in front of a judge who was telling use that we willfully and persistently failed to comply with applicable law, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be getting after school detention.

Elected officials should be held to a higher standard. Judges, should be held to a standard even higher than elected officials.

The slap on the wrist, was a slap in the face to local El Paso voters.

The slap on the wrist sends a chilling message to attorneys that if they take the step to make a complaint, put themselves out on the limb, that the judge gets a slap on the wrist and they still have to practice in his court.

This type of decision, while scathing in its text, lacks teeth and undermines the public's confidence in the judiciary.

Political Ramifications

Despite the toothless rebuke of Judge Aguilar, it most definitely has the ability to end his career as a judge - provided that his opponent or opponents will actually take advantage of the opportunity to educate voters on why electing judges is important.

Aguilar has already filed for reelection in the March primary and he has an opponent. The opponent was there long before the story came out so there is no word yet as to whether other opponents will pop up.

But the political implications of this issue will only become reality if there is a candidate that is willing to leverage the facts against Aguilar.

That can prove problematic.

Aguilar has dealt with campaign storms before and last election cycle was able to fend off a challenge from a younger, smart, female challenger. The attack came late though.

If it is to be successful this time, the opponent or opponents need to make his record an issue EARLY and not late. Once he is defined by this report, he will have to spend time, treasure, and talent trying to undo the damage.

The question is whether or not someone will actually do it.

The deadline to file for the March primary is December 11th.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

LVWD to Appoint Board Member as New GM

The embattled utility and service provider in the Mission Valley that recently fired Jack Alayyan amid an alleged sexual harassment complaint has another controversy on their hands.

According to sources, Lower Valley Water District is set to try to appoint a sitting board member to fill the paid position of General Manager, replacing Alayyan.

This move is controversial because most boards across El Paso have rules restricting board members from becoming employees of their board for a period of time because of cronyism and conflicts of interest.

The Lower Valley Water District does not have term limits and conducts their own elections unlike every other political subdivision in the County that relies on the County of El Paso to conduct their elections. As a result of a lack of term limits, there are board members that have been there since the founding of the entity.

The board meeting set for Thursday at 6:30pm will be held at their main office on the Clint Cut-off.

According to their agenda, they will be appointing board member Gerald Grijalva as the General Manager. That will be a permanent selection, not an interim. There is no indication as to what, if any, employee search was done to fill the vacancy prior to this appointment.

The Board will also act on selecting a board replacement for Mr. Grijalva.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fenenbock Attacks Teacher's Union

I don't recall ever seeing an alleged Democratic candidate attack a labor union and a labor leaders, but it apparently has happened.

In a statement released on her campaign Facebook account Monday night, congressional candidate Dori Fenenbock attacked Ross Moore and the American Federation of Teachers following an email to AFT membership today from Moore indicating that Fenenbock was not competing for the endorsement of the labor union that represents teachers in EPISD.

This is more than just an attack on one union boss or one union. When a candidate attacks one union, they are attacking all of labor.

I'll get to the specifics in just a minute, but first I want to talk about two other things - people who should be embarrassed for supporting her and her hypocrisy.

First, lets talk about the support. If you're a member of a labor union and you're supporting Fenenbock, you need to be asking yourself why at this point. Basically, I'm talking to the boys in blue that are members of the law enforcement unions that endorsed Fenenbock. I get it, your leadership hates Escobar. But haven't you all learned your lesson by endorsing a Republican for Sheriff last time? Your candidate is openly attacking a labor union, and you're going to stick by your endorsement?

Do you people not know what the word solidarity means?

Next, all you Old Guard Democrats that hate Escobar. I get it, you don't like her. I get it, you're still not over the loss of Silvestre Reyes to Beto O'Rourke and you guys somehow believe defeating Escobar is going to erase that stinging loss from a few years ago.

Well it isn't.

Reyes was so unpopular he couldn't be saved even by two Democratic Presidents and Little Joe.

A lot of you old guard people came up in the Chicano movement. Our leaders in El Movimiento were labor leaders. Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta were union people. I've lost track of how many of you talk about Cesar's visit in SOLIDARITY with the Farah strike.

Have you forgotten where you come from supporting someone who shops in Beverly Hills and attacks labor? If you think that is being a Chavista or a Huertista, you've really lost your way.

That leads me to hypocrisy.

What kind of sin vergüenza has the audacity to make her profile picture one of her and LABOR LEADER Dolores Huerta, while she goes on the attack against a LABOR LEADER?

Dori Fenenbock 

She is not only taking pictures with labor leaders and then attacking other labor leaders, she's also trying to steal Dolores Huerta's chant for her own political gain as well. And quick sidebar, this video is awesome because Dori reminds me of Jackson Heights' own, Mr. Randy Watson, when she had to prompt the crowd to join her in the chant. The look on Enrique Garcia's face at the end is priceless. You can tell he's holding back a laugh..)

See what I mean? The only thing missing was her wearing a powder blue leisure suit, stomping her feet and yelling SEXUAL CHOCOLATE! while Chris Hernandez is sitting in the front row clapping saying, "that girl good!"

Click here if for some reason you don't know what I'm talking about.

Talk about pandering and talk about old guarders ENABLING a DEMOCRAT to attack labor!
Seriously, we all know your opposition isn't about issues.

We all know its just personal and largely about ego. But seriously, how can you people with a straight face continue to call yourselves hard core Democrats and say you believe in the values of our party and yet support someone who attacks labor?

And lets not forget what the central issue is here - Fenenbock and EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera are upset that a teachers' union is against efforts to bring charter schools into the area. Democrats are supposed to be protecting public education, not undermining it.

If you read Fenenbock's statement, it has many of the same talking points used a couple weeks ago by Cabrera. Coordination between Cabrera and Fenenbock has been alleged for months, and this statement appears to me to be another example of an employee of the district coordinating campaign activities with a candidate. I mean the only way it could be more blatantly obvious would be if there was some sort of paper trail showing some kind of documented coordinated campaign activity. But that would be really bad, right? I mean something like that would be something the trustees would probably have to act on, que no?

But lets walk through all the hypocrisy of this statement. First of all, Dori Fenenbock is calling a union boss unethical? This is the same trustee that voted on a contract that many have alleged is an example of bid-rigging. I'm not sure that pot should be saying anything to the kettle.

The next paragraph is why this is not just an attack on one union boss, but an attack on labor. Fenenbock is alleging that Moore is doing something wrong when he is just standing up for his membership. That is what union bosses are supposed to do, stand up for their members. You don't organize for weakness, you organize for power. Moore is doing basic things that are fundamental to the protection of worker rights.

Frankly, someone who is allegedly a Democrat shouldn't have to have that explained to them. That is the same kind of rhetoric that management always uses to undermine unions - which is why other unions should understand that this is an attack on all labor.

Firefighters, other teacher unions, SEIU, AFSCME, IBEW, Sheetmetal workers, Nurses union, etc should all rally and show solidarity with AFT.

Here's the part that should really piss off all teachers, administrators, janitors, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, and bus drivers - Fenenbock says that Moore is doing nothing about helping the children of our community learn. She goes on later to talk about her "demonstrated commitment to our schools and our children".

This is the person who bailed out after less than half her term, on those very children and schools, in order to pursue higher office. Quitting for a better job is hardly a "demonstrated commitment". But in the wonderful world of Fenenbock, a union boss who spent most of his career serving his country in the military and teaching students, is somehow not helping children, but someone who served less than half of one term has a "demonstrated commitment".

That begs the question, what does she think about you front-line teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers that make the district run? You see, those folks are also represented by teachers' unions.

But hold on, I'm not done here. Fenenbock called the endorsement process of the AFT a "farce", "a clear bias" and an "example of the backdoor dealings and corruptive practices goin on in this community." This, coming from the candidate that very happily accepted the endorsement of the Northeast Democrats after receiving the questions in advance, and people were able to pay to become members that evening and vote on the endorsement.

Shame on Fenenbock.

Solidarity forever.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Fenenbock Fails Follow-Through

An email sent out to membership today from AFT union boss Ross Moore today appears to indicate that former EPISD Trustee and congressional candidate Dori Fenenbock will not be eligible for the endorsement of the association that represents most of the teachers in EPISD. This issue has been a big deal because a close campaign figure to Fenenbock allegedly bragged about having the AFT endorsement in the bag.

According to the email, screenshot below, Fenenbock failed to return the questionnaire to the AFT in order to be eligible for the endorsement.

This is the part where Fenenbock's Spokesmonkey (not David K, the other one) comes out with a statement that says Fenenbock never received the email.

That leaves the endorsement down to former County Judge Veronica Escobar and EPISD teacher/perennial candidate Jerome Tilghman.

Tilghman is a teacher in EPISD but isn't a viable candidate for congress with no base, poor performance for nearly every office he's ever run for, is essentially campaigning via Facebook, and has the most Republican voting record of any candidate in the Democratic Primary with the exception of Fenenbock.

If Tilghman isn't endorsed by his own fellow teachers, he should drop out because it will be a strong indicator that he will fair similar, if not worse, than the other times he has run for congress.

The Texas State Teacher's Association, which is affiliated with the NEA, has already endorsed Escobar for the 16th congressional district.

Fenenbock not even competing for the endorsement of a teacher association in the district she was a trustee for is a pretty strong slap in the face to union members, however failing to win the endorsement of those same teachers would likely be an even bigger problem for the Fenenbock campaign.

Friday, November 24, 2017

More on NE Demos Endorsement

I was at Demo HQ yesterday for the parade and several of us had a good laugh at the expense of David K. They all found it funny that the candidate that is trying really hard to get people to think she's a Democrat is so fervently being defended by the Republican blogger that doesn't even live here.

I explained to them that DK's family money is maxed out behind Fenenbock, so he's obligated to support her. Think of him as her version of The Mooch.

But I found out a few more things I wasn't aware of - one of which was the fact that NE Democrats accepted new members, and therefore the ability to vote, on the actual day of the endorsement. Every other Democratic club in El Paso has a membership deadline that prevents campaigns from essentially showing up en masse on the day of an endorsement to "buy" an endorsement.

So as if leaking questions to Fenenbock in advance wasn't bad enough, and the fact that prominent members of the NE Democrats including the president and Rep Sam Morgan have already come out publicly to support Fenenbock months in advance, leave it to the Northeast Democrats to make an endorsement for the congressional race before the filing window has even closed.

It'll be interesting to hear them justify basically any of that.

Speaking of the filing window, Democrats, and the parade...anybody else notice who led the parade and did so on foot?

Thats right, former Mayor Oscar Leeser. And remember I said he had done the football draft last Sunday?

Despite the Texas Rangers' investigation being turned over to the District Attorney, it looks like Mayor Leeser is going to go forward with a congressional bid.

The minute he does, the campaigns that are left standing are going to be geared against him. They've seen this movie before. They probably all know that in order to stop a juggernaut of a campaign like Leeser's who has more than 25 years of name ID built up, they are going to have to leverage a negative message against him right away. That might have been part of Leeser's strategy in waiting until the last minute. If you think about it, waiting until the last minute to file gives the opposition less time to define him, sorta like killing the clock.

So the irony of all of this is going to be the association with Carlos Sierra. He was working for Leeser at one point but was disavowed. Now he is part of a PAC that doesn't want his association to be known publicly that is geared to beat Escobar and for the mean time, is going to be pro-Fenenbock. The question will be if that PAC turns on Fenenbock in favor of Leeser, and does Leeser even want to be associated with anything having to do with Sierra now.

Fenenbock has got to be losing her mind right now. Of the candidates most hurt by Leeser jumping in, its Fenenbock. He can raise money, or just self-finance if he wants it badly enough. Hell, Leeser might be able to just start hiring away her staff, especially field people.

Leeser would immediately become the face of the anti-Escobar crowd and undercut Fenenbock. She was pushing for him to become County Judge a while back in order to try to take him out of the picture.

Or, Leeser could just be screwing with people for the hell of it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

La Revancha - Precinct 2

County Commissioner David Stout filed for reelection yesterday. It was a bit surprising because while I said a while back that he wasn't going to run for county judge because the support just wasn't there, he sent out a press advisory to the media that had language that gave every indication that he was going to run for county judge because he spoke about taking the lead on issues such as providing affordable access to healthcare, veterans affairs, economic development and other issues. It pissed off the media because he sorta tricked them into showing up for what would otherwise be a none-story.

The problem is I don't think any of that stuff in his release is actually true. He wasn't even on the court for the vote to expand healthcare access through the clinics, that was Lewis. Lewis voted against that and it was probably his biggest political mistake and still something that can be hung over his head, but Stout can't take credit for it.

I don't know of anything Stout has taken the lead on while a commissioner other than Do-ruhn-gui-toe and ducks at Ascarate. That is kind of why he doesn't have support for county judge and has to fight to keep his seat in the first place.

So its a rematch between Stout and Lewis. No one else will get in this race, so no run-off.

Here's the tale of the tape on these guys.

Commissioner Lewis still has a bad voting record to deal with on a range of issues. That hasn't gone away. He still has EPISD lurking in the background that Stout never really took advantage of when he was a candidate against Lewis. But, Lewis is also a very different candidate now. For one, he's actually working it more than he did when he was the incumbent. He has already been block walking and hitting doors since earlier this month. Also, he's a Forma candidate now. So his materials aren't that really long boring shit he had last time and he retired that fugly old logo that Morris Pittle did for him in the last election that looked like Bart Simpson and Joseph Stalin had a baby. His stuff is clean and refreshed. And so is he. No more black shirts. He looks like a Commissioner now. He's always had a command of his issues, but he's more succinct in his presentation now. His candidate make-over has been a success.

Commissioner Stout has the better voting record on policies, but he hasn't been a leader except on issues that are not good issues for him. His support has withered away. He no longer has the campaign team he did before when he squeaked out a close victory over Lewis by less than 50 votes. So who is he going to get now, especially now that he's up against Forma? He's gonna have a money problem too. Its going to be difficult to get campaign contributions to build up enough resources to fight off Forma. Forma is going to blast him with a negative message and unless something drastic changes, he's not going to have anything to be able to fight back with. Stout started late and now has to play catch-up.

Last time things got pretty heated between the two because they both brought up one another's arrest records. I doubt they repeat that now.

But I do want to hear the two of them square off on policy. Four years later and very different ideas about the role of county government from the two of them should make for some good policy conversation.

Remember, Remember, The Shit in November...

Remember all that shit David K was talking last year?

Remember how many times he said I didn't know what I was talking about?

Remember all the times he said was stupid, I was involved in some conspiracy with Susie Byrd, the Loch Ness Monster, the Tooth Fairy, the Chupacabra, the Llorona, and all surviving members of the Jackson Five about a fake news investigation that according to him wasn't even happening?

You memmer, memmer? He swore up and down that there was no investigation, he talked all the time about how no member of council had even been interviewed, blah blah blah.

Well that allegedly fake investigation by the Texas Rangers was concluded and turned over to the District Attorneys Office.

I'm sure now David K will come up with some story about how the Texas Rangers turning it over to the DA means that they found no wrong doing and are going to write apology letters to all the parties involved.

Now for those of you that live in the real world, here is what the implications are - the timing couldn't be worse for former Mayor Oscar Leeser and couldn't be better for Escobar and Fenenbock. Leeser would have completely destroyed Fenenbock as a candidate. Her support would have disappeared immediately in favor of Leeser.

But now it is difficult to see a last-minute jump into the race by Leeser with this issue being in the forefront and hanging over his head now. Because honestly the only people this really has an impact on now are Leeser because of his possible congressional bid and City Rep Svarzbein because he's the only person involved that is still on council from that time period.

This is now something that would be a negative message that either Fenenbock or Escobar (or the PACs) could leverage against Leeser and he really wouldn't have a way to respond to it, unless the DA immediately came out and said there was no grounds to prosecute.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NE Dems Endorse Fenenbock; Has Questions in Advance

In a shocking development, the Northeast Democrats endorsed Dori Fenenbock for congress last night. Lol, JK everyone knew that was happening. Their president has been an open supporter of Fenenbock and has been featured on her social media several times.

But was most interesting about the debate last night was that it came to light that there was a mini-Donna Brazille scandal involving the endorsement. Turns out Fenenbock was supplied a list of questions in advance, which even further undermines the credibility of an already suspect endorsement process.

The revelation of the Fenenbock campaign being supplied the questions last night came to light when Fenenbock operative Chris Hernandez got upset about the questions being asked of Fenenbock and those being asked of Escobar, though he didn't specifically mention Escobar's name. To the surprise of most of the candidates and most of the attendees, including the president that was an open Fenenbock supporter and tried to give some BS story about why she had the questions, Hernandez inadvertently revealed that they had a received a list of 21 questions.

The organization president gave some bullshit answer about SAT tests and that they were given a list of possible questions.

Later Fenenbock apologized to the other candidates that essentially weren't given the answers to the test in advance.

Frankly, even the panel had problems. The NE Democrats is a partisan organization but for some reason they chose someone with a Republican voting history as a panelist - Elisa Morales who recently ran for mayor. I was really surprised they would have someone with Republican voting history on their panel. But they did.

Her first question was "what is a Democrat?" Seriously, I'm not joking. She apparently doesn't know given her voting record. She spent pretty much the rest of the night asking the candidates about working across the aisle, which played well to fellow part-time Republican Dori Fenenbock.

Way to go NE Dems, you guys had a fixed process, had your president out front supporting a candidate before your endorsement, gave Fenenbock the questions in advance, and then she wins the endorsement. Congratulations guys, you Democrats endorsed a Republican.

Golf clap.

Other funny parts were Fenenbock in her opening talking like she was poor and struggled and talked about the rich like they were a species of human unfamiliar to her. This is the same lady that was shopping in Beverly Hills wearing a fur a few weeks ago.

And of course, what would be an event with Fenenbock in attendance without pandering to raza again. She again invoked the name of Dolores Huerta and Si Se Puede, and then started another chant that said was Dolores' new chant. Which goes to show how little Fenenbock knows about el movimiento because its not new.

Bless her rich little heart.

Fun moment of the night was by one of the also-rans. Fenenbock had been talking about career politicians all night long. SGM Parker said everyone who has never run for public office before, please stand up. Escobar, Tighlman, and Fenenbock had to remain sitting.

Also there was a little development I am going to follow up on having to do with who is an actual lawyer. Enrique Garcia who had a pretty strong showing of his own kept referring to himself as the only licensed attorney running and Fenenbock didn't like it and said she was also a licensed attorney, he responded quickly and asked her where because she wasn't licensed, according to Garcia, in Texas, Oklahoma, or Colorado, which are places she apparently has lived.

So I guess now I have to find out if she is actually an attorney. I'll follow up with video of all of this.

Escobar demonstrated the deepest policy knowledge and was cool and collected most of the night. She lost composure when her son came in the room who apparently had just arrive from school back east for the Thanksgiving holiday. Other than that, her and Enrique Garcia were the only two that actually looked like real congressional candidates last night.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fenenbock, Sierra & Leeser Rumor

So there was an article in the El Paso Times about Carlos Sierra setting up a SuperPAC and its express purpose is to go after Veronica Escobar.

I seriously can't believe that there are some of you reading this that still give that guy work. If you read the article the big take away is that Sierra is obsessed with a hit list of people he wants to take out. That says everything you need to know about that guy and why he's the ultimate villain in El Paso politics.

He doesn't want to make El Paso a better place. He doesn't give a shit about policy. He doesn't want to build anything.

By his own admission, he wants to destroy. And if you believe what a source has told me about that ugly robocall he was alleged to have been secretly behind, then the guy clearly will do whatever it takes, stoop to whatever depth possible, to destroy the people on his hit list.

Maybe that is why everyone disavows the guy as quickly as they can. Like the kid with piojos in elementary school. Only shaving his head won't make it go away.

Seriously everyone he was worked with, or claimed to have worked with, can't distance themselves from that guy quick enough. Based on his track record, there is good reason.

The other big take away is that even the SuperPAC wants to keep his name on the low-low. When even a SuperPAC wants to keep your name out of things, its a really bad sign about the guy.

That is why his involvement with that SuperPAC is already going to hurt Fenenbock. He's admitted to reaching out to her in the article. He said in his letter to Fenenbock that he was out to get Escobar.

He even has the audacity to take credit for Acosta losing the mayoral race. Seriously man, get the fuck out of here. You didn't do that. She was unpopular of her own doing, not anything you had to do with. Seriously, when was the last time you won a race?

Actually, have you ever won a race where the client actually claimed you?

The answer is no.

Anywho, the SuperPAC is going to be one big boat anchor around Fenenbock's neck. It may have another unintended victim.

Former El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser. Leeser has been associated with Sierra in the past but he was also one of the first people to distance himself from Sierra.

Leeser has been going to Democratic Party functions on the regular. Most former mayors don't really have the spotlight anymore. But Leeser does. He even did the high school football all start game draft lottery this weekend.

He is beloved at Democratic Party events. Seriously, I've seen him more in person since this election season started than the entire time he was mayor. I'm not exaggerating.

I've heard that he has been telling people around town about a poll Forma did last year that showed he was a strong congressional candidate. That was before the Duranguito stuff, but it was a poll nonetheless.

The rumors that he will jump into the congressional race at the last minute will not go away. he was successful when he jumped in the mayoral race at the last minute because he had money, name ID, and most weren't happy with the field of candidates.

Fenenbock knows that if Leeser jumps in the race, she's toast. She is done, she won't be a factor anymore. She's known this for awhile, which is why she was trying to push for Leeser to replace Escobar as County Judge. She wanted to take the knight off the chessboard.

Filing deadline is less than a month away. Lets see what happens...

Oh, and one more thing. Fenenbock was unavailable for comment again. Once again voters heard from Christian Archer instead of Dori Fenenbock. The media needs to stop making that an option. The minute they just run stories without comment from the campaign I guarantee they stop giving you Archer.

Two JP Candidates in Trouble

Two incumbent Justices of the Peace are going to be in a tough battle to try to keep their seats. Each of the male incumbents face not one, but two Latina candidates challenging for their seats.

And in each race, the two Latina candidates have started campaigning early.

Why is that significant? Because both of the incumbents won their races by taking Latina incumbents into run-off elections.

Now both the incumbents are in the position they had the incumbents they defeated in.

The advantage that both incumbents have, and Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 John Chatman to a much greater extent, is name ID and money.

But there are also some disadvantages the two incumbents have to deal with in this election. First, the fact that they are both facing not one, but two Latinas that are campaigning hard and doing so early. As incumbents, they have courts to run. As candidates, they had all day to campaign. Not so much anymore. If they are suddenly out of the office more than usual, it will become an issue.

Chatman and Justice of the Peace for Precinct 4 Jesus Urenda also have to deal with the challenge that it is very difficult to go negative against female candidates especially in this political climate we currently have and its doubtful that either incumbent wants to risk rubbing the electorate the wrong way.

Chatman's motto when he previously ran was "Mi color es de amigo" and he still has it on his campaign signs around the valley. If he went negative on his opponents, it would really hurt him.

Now to be clear, I'm not unbiased in these two races and I won't pretend to be. As a result, I won't be doing much writing about them. You know who I'm rooting for in Precinct 5, and in Precinct 4 Rebecca Bustamante is by far the most qualified candidate. She's the only lawyer running and she's been a far more active Democrat than Patiño, who seems like a nice lady but has very little voting history.

Norma Chavez is her campaign manager and unfortunately for Chavez and Patiño, and Chavez will disagree with me (because she's wrong) but bikers aren't a voting base.

Either way in both precinct 4 and 5, with two Latina candidates campaigning hard early on, it is going to mean that there is a run-off.

Incumbents lose in run-offs with only a very few exceptions. The question then becomes, who gets into a run-off? It is quite possible in the Precinct 4 race that Judge Urenda doesn't even make it in to a run-off election.


Speaking of JP races, what the hell is up with JP 3?

First, this guy "Spanky" Sanchez - dude did someone actually tell this guy to focus on the name "Spanky" instead of SANCHEZ in a heavily Latino precinct like JP 3? I mean I guess it makes sense if you're running against candidates named Buckwheat and Alfalfa, but other than that, the name you should always focus on is the more Spanish name. Thats El Paso politics 101. I met him briefly once, and I don't know anything about his qualifications, so I am not saying the guy is, or is not a good candidate. I frankly don't know. But seriously, wrong name to focus on and if no one around him has told him so, shame on them.

Good thing there is another candidate that seems to have bigger issues.

Check out her signs:

Did you catch it? If you're going to run for an office, you should - at a minimum - now what its called. She's running for Precinct 3, not District 3.

See what I mean?

Also, someone should teach her the boundaries of the PRECINCT. She has several signs up in JP 5 area that are doing her no good in the wrong precinct.

JP 3 is going to be a hotly contested race because its kind of the crown jewel of the JP races because they make so much money doing weddings because the JP court is located in the county courthouse downtown.

See weddings is kind of the secret honey pot that JPs like to keep a secret. They make a ton of money off of doing weddings, can charge anything they want, they don't have to report that money to tax payers or commissioners (only the IRS) and none - and I mean NONE - of the money that your tax payers go to help facilitate, goes back to you the tax payer. That is money that the JP's just pocket for themselves.

So JP3 is going to be a cash cow for the eventual winner.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Cabrera Attacks Union Boss After Spat with Fenenbock

Cartoon by Steve Hern,
So, what are we all just going to pretend that EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera's little live-streamed taxpayer-funded temper tantrum wasn't about defending Dori Fenenbock?

Let me get this straight, week before last there ends up being a big hub-bub about the AFT Union Boss Ross Moore coming out to clarify that despite alleged suggestion to the contrary, Dori Fenenbock did not have the support of the American Federation of Teachers in EPISD yet, and this week Juan Cabrera goes on the attack against Moore?

And we are all supposed to believe that is just some sort of coincidence? Seriously that is one of the most blatantly obvious political moves to support the candidate that he allegedly was trying to help campaign, but then said he wasn't but now looks like he is...

So now this has really gotta put the establishment Democrats into a bad spot. You have Cabrera attacking a union - and labor rights is a central part of the Democratic Party platform. Cabrera goes after the union that wouldn't endorse Fenenbock, but most of the establishment Democrats that still haven't gotten over Reyes losing to Beto, are supporting Fenenbock.

Well thats awkward because its been hard for people to call themselves Chicano and back Fenenbock with a straight face with her track record as a Republican but now that you have her chief political ally launch an attack on unions because Fenenbock didn't get an endorsement.

Because lets be real...if Fenenbock had received the AFT endorsement, there is no way in blue hell that Cabrera would be attacking Ross Moore.

Seriously, if she wasn't such a Republican, would David K be endlessly kissing her ass? No, because David K doesn't like Democrats. Remember how the balance of the blogosphere force works - he's the Republican and I am the Democrat. Who's he been carrying water for? The Republican.

Make no mistake about this though, Cabrera's attack on Moore wasn't just an attack on Ross Moore, or even just an attack on the AFT.

It was an assault on labor.

Remember the words he used like "bullying" and "intimidation". That is what management calls it when workers unite to protect their rights and participate in the same market principles that business does. And so shocker...administration doesn't like unions. Also, the sky is blue and water is wet.

There is no nice way to put it, Cabrera's attack was on the working man and woman of this community. Real Democrats should stand with unions at a time like this and unions should show solidarity and stand with each other.

Thats what it means when we say "Solidarity Forever".

This is clearly Cabrera engaging in political payback. The school board shouldn't continue to stand for his antics. Remember what happened the last time they stood idly by and let an administrator run amok? Yeah, me too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bustamante Fundraiser

Becky Bustamante is running for JP 4 on the eastside. I post any and all campaign event announcements that are sent to me.

But a quick note about Bustamante - she is far and away the best candidate for the position.

Pandering & Congressional Funnies

This post has lots of pics, but I swear its worth it. I love social media during campaign season because something funny always happens. So this is a bit of a potpourri piece, so I'll end it on a humorous note. For now, lets start with pandering.

Pandering isn't a new thing and there is always that one candidate that will surrender any bit of self-dignity they have for the sake of getting a vote. Happens every election cycle. Last election cycle it was David Saucedo that embodied pandering. This cycle, it is Dori Fenenbock far and away.

She's really taken the pandering to the next level. I mean she's not dancing cumbias like David Saucedo did, but lets be real...that will likely happen before this is all said and done. I'm getting used to the Mexican pandering, which I'll go more into in a second, but I want to focus on Veteran's Day pandering.

So I found this picture and it annoyed me on so many levels but I'll start with the fact that as a veteran who is starting to gray, I am like a lot of the thousands of other veterans in town and we all put on some sort of military regalia on Veteran's Day to signify our military service. We are big on wearing something from our branch of service. Trust me, you never have to wonder what branch a veteran served in because we almost always wear something that will tell you.

Fenenbock must've been watching war movies and went full Tropic Thunder. She apparently decided to play dress-up and wore this. I know a few veterans that were offended, but most of us just laughed at the lengths people will go to for pandering for a vote.

Normally electeds will wear a flag on their lapel or a red, white, and blue scarf or something patriotic on veterans day. The electeds that are veterans, which there are fewer and fewer of these days, may wear a baseball hat with their branch of service.

Fenenbock looks like she got run over by a supply truck heading to a military surplus store.

Or the guy that brought his wife to the hunting trip. Pro tip - if you aren't a veteran, don't play dress-up as one. Seriously its like there is no one around her that cares enough about her to stop her from doing some of the things she does.

Okay so now lets move on to the non-holiday pandering Fenenbock does. Remember when I said earlier that I thought she'd end up dancing cumbias before this is all said and done? Well there is a reason I have said that. She seems to be really focused on pandering to raza for the purposes of trying to appeal to us.

Which is weird because she also actually brags about defeating Latino candidates. Ive written about it before and its still on her website. Go check if you don't believe me.

She's done it with the Si Se Puede chant at her announcement, she will try to speak Spanish to people in that special annoying way that only rich white folk seem to have mastered, and makes sure she gets as many pictures with prominent Latinos as she can.

Frankly, all you Latinos that are encouraging that shit, especially those of you that call yourselves Chicanos, trust me when I tell you that people are taking note.

Here's an example of her posting a pic with Dolores Huerta, who I guarantee she needed help learning to pronounce her last name...

Obviously she wants to look like she hangs out with farmworkers and civil rights heroes. In reality, she's more comfortable hanging out in Beverly Hills wearing furs. No seriously, I'm not joking.

No, I don't know what kind of fur that is, I'm chicano. I've never seen a fur.

Anywho, its not just civil rights leaders she tries to pander with. Its also with my future ex-wife's current boo A -Rod.

And frankly, its my favorite one because of the hashtag.

Lets Fiesta?

I've been brown my entire life. So I have one question for all you Chicanos that are allegedly hardcore Democrats that are all Down with Dori...who the fuck says that?!?!?!

I'll tell you who...

Drunk gringas that have had one too many shots of tequila at the Drinko-de-Mayo frat party, thats who.

Because I've never heard raza say "Lets Fiesta" in my entire life. Seriously how much cultural appropriation are you Chicanos going to stand and watch?

So in that spirit, I thought if she's gonna use images of herself with Latinos, why not make them more genuine and include what her website says about raza?

There, I fixed it.


I said I'd end on a humorous note. Like I said, I love social media during election season. If you haven't met Enrique Garcia, he's a really great guy. He's not gonna win, but he is a great guy. Well he made a little boo-boo on his social media post on Veteran's Day. Its still there today, so I don't think he's caught it yet.

But here's a screenshot. I've magnified the flags emoji that are used in the post to draw to your attention something one of my readers caught.

That is not the American flag that is used in his post. Its actually Liberia's flag.

Monday, November 13, 2017

First Day Filers

The filing window is open for candidates to place their names on the ballot. I often get asked by folks about who has or has not signed up to run so far. Shout out to the Party for having a lot of comprehensive info on their website and providing me with the names of who has filed already. You can see a list of everyone who has declared candidacy so far, which is different than actually filing. Here are the Democratic Party candidates that filed for office on the first day of the filing period to appear on the Democratic Party ballot.

The filing window continues until December 11th. Candidates can appear on the ballot by paying the fee or by providing signatures on petitions of registered voters. The Party website also has a page that lays out the fees and number of signatures necessary to appear on the ballot.

Congressional Race:
Veronica Escobar
Jerome Tighlman

State Rep Races:
Cesar Blanco(I)
MarySue Femath
Joseph Moody(I)
Evalina Ortega(I)

County Judge/Commissioner Candidates:
Sergio Lewis
Ricardo Samaniego

Judicial Seats:
Patricia Chew(I)
Marcos Lizarraga(I)
Ray Rocha
Linda Chew(I)
Martha Sue Kurita(I)
Adolfo Sanchez
Patricia Estrada
Javier Alvarez(I)
Josh Herrera
Patsy Lopez
Robert Anchondo(I)
Danny Razo
Roberto Ramos
Ruben Nunez

County Clerk:
Delia Briones (I)

Possible Development in County Judge Race

So far the race for County Judge has been very similar to the last mayoral race - an incredibly weak field of candidates. All of them are incredibly nice people, but you don't read my blog because I pull political punches, so I'm not gonna start now. The candidates are nice, but none of them are strong. And there is talk of a sitting elected official who is being urged by a lot of folks to do El Paso a solid and jump in the race. If he did, it would be an immediate impact.

First, it is looking less and less like County Commissioner David Stout is going to run for county judge because the support just isn't there. Stout is a perfect example of what happens when Max Grossman latches on to your political career. Straight-up boat anchor.

Stout needs to hustle hard to even keep his seat at this point. His opponent is former County Commissioner Sergio Lewis, who is a now a Forma candidate. And guess what? Lewis' campaign is already block walking. He hit some doors over the weekend.

So that leaves a field of Richard Samaniego, John Cook, and Laura Enriquez. Samniego is the one with all the money at this point and his consultants have made sure he's done all the political rounds. He's got name ID because of former El Paso County Sheriff, and big time anti-immigrant Leo Samaniego.

Samaniego is super likable. The one thing negative you hear about him is a pretty steady drumbeat of I really like him, but I don't like who he surrounds himself with. He's done some solid work in the community and has the most knowledge of the machinations of county government. He seems like he'd be able to go into office and work well with the other commissioners and get brought up to speed pretty quickly.

John Cook is a name a lot of you know and he has show he can win in a citywide race without having a lot of money. Knows policy pretty well, but based on the one time I saw him address commissioners court, he didn't appear to have a deep knowledge of county government and said some things that frankly didn't make any sense related to the issue he was speaking about. Twelve or so years ago when he was the upset victor in the mayoral race he walked a lot was able to pull it off. Now twelve years and a ballpark later, it isn't going to be so easy to do. Especially because he's going to have to add the areas outside of El Paso to his block walking. Its really hard to see how he gets any traction.

Laura Enriquez is my dark horse in this race. She needs to be doing a lot more in her campaign, but from what I have seen I have been impressed with her candidacy. She's an attorney and the only woman running. This ballot is going to be dominated by female candidates and despite not having as much money has the other candidates, if she can catch a break here and there she has the chance to make some noise and be a contender. Frankly, if she had a little bit of money and a solid ground game, she could win.

But you know what you don't hear about in this race at all?


No one at all is talking about what they would do as County Judge. Probably because they don't have a clue in terms of what is going on at the county and what needs to change. The County is a strange government animal to begin with and purposely weak. So it takes a lot of savvy to fix problems at the County in a government entity that doesn't have the ability to make ordinances to deal with most of the problems that are out there.

It was out of frustration with the current field of candidates that there was ever talk of Stout running for County Judge in the first place. There has been several groups of people trying to recruit someone stronger to run for county judge since the field started to form, the most notable efforts centered around Commissioners Carlos Leon and Vince Perez.

Eventually Commissioner Leon ruled out the possibility of a bid for the county judge position. Well there are now several indications that Commissioner Vince Perez, who notably hasn't ruled it out, may be considering a run for county judge. He's been hounded for weeks by people urging him to make the run.

Perez's candidacy would immediately change the field. First, he'd be the only candidate that has a campaign team that is proven and ready to hit the ground running. He's run on basically no money before, but this time would likely have a luxury he hasn't had previously - a well financed campaign. His tenacity for campaigning is unmatched. No one can frame a message better. Perez would also be the only candidate with in-depth knowledge of county government and is the only candidate that has any track record of implementing meaningful reforms at the County.

He was elected the 2016 County Leader of the Year - a national award - for his work on judicial and budgetary reforms. There's not a candidate in the field that can touch that and there isn't a candidate in the field that would want to stand toe-to-toe with Perez on a policy debate. Ironically the only way they could try to beat Perez would be to attack the reforms he's led, which would be futile because a) he's smarter than the rest and b) the reforms were meaningful and acclaimed.

The only thing stopping Perez from running is Perez. If he chose to run he would have to resign his current seat as County Commissioner for Precinct 3. It would also leave a vacuum of people wanting to fill the seat. Everyone who has ever run for anything would likely try to through their hat in the ring and it would flip around a bunch of seats.

The salary isn't much more than what commissioners are making now and a County Judge has only one or two more additional abilities than the rest of the commissioners. Its more of an at-large seat than an executive, so why would Perez need to run for County Judge? He has already shown himself to be successful at pushing reforms through the court without doing so from the County Judge's office.

So in this last month before the filing deadline closes, watch for a lot of people to be on the edge of their seat to see what happens. Perez is likely the only potential county judge candidate that could wait until the last possible moment to throw their hat in the ring and win.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Moore Uncovers Fenenbock PAC Connection to Carlos Sierra

Former El Paso Times Editor Bob Moore found a connection between a PAC supporting the Fenenbock congressional campaign and the infamous political operative, and Republican, Carlos Sierra.

Sierra is a longtime Republican operative who has worked in local campaigns but has been largely disavowed as his tactics have come to light and caused controversy. Sierra has recently said some pretty nasty sexually-charged remarks about a local elected official.

Moore, who recently retired from the Times has apparently been keeping his eye on local politics as a private citizen now and uncovered an interesting connection between the Fenenbock campaign and Carlos Sierra.

Here is what Moore wrote in a recent post on Facebook:

The Ohio organizer of a new political action committee says it was formed to support Dori Fenenbock’s El Paso congressional campaign, but won’t say much else. However, it appears the PAC has ties to controversial political consultant Carlos Sierra of El Paso.
The Keep El Paso Honest PAC was created on Tuesday, according to Federal Election Commission records. It’s custodian of records and treasurer is listed as Lindsey Workman of Dublin, Ohio. 
I called Workman on Thursday for information about the PAC. She said the PAC was going to support “candidates for Congress and other local offices in El Paso.” When I asked which candidates, she said Fenenbock, who's seeking the Democratic nomination for El Paso's 16th Congressional District seat. Workman said the PAC hadn’t yet identified any other candidates to support.
Workman was evasive as I asked more questions. She repeatedly said “we” when describing people behind the PAC, but when I asked who else was involved, she said, “I’m not at liberty to talk about that.” When I asked if anyone in Fenenbock’s family was involved with the PAC, she declined to answer.
Although Workman declined to talk about any others involved in the Keep El Paso Honest PAC, available public records point to Sierra, an El Pasoan who has been involved in numerous political campaigns. He was a former aide to Arizona Sen. John McCain and, like Workman, worked on Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s 2016 presidential campaign. 
Workman’s LinkedIn profile says she served as “national grassroots director” for Johnson’s 2016 presidential campaign. Sierra’s LinkedIn profile says he served as "national field director" for the former New Mexico governor’s Libertarian campaign last year.
FEC records show Workman as the custodian of records and treasurer for another PAC created on Oct. 2, called Keep Texas Honest. In addition to Workman’s ties to both PACs, Keep El Paso Honest and Keep Texas Honest use the same Ohio bank, FEC records show.
In the initial filing for the Keep Texas Honest PAC, Workman gave her email address as, and listed as a secondary email.
She dropped the Renegade Public Affairs emails when she filed amended organizing forms, FEC records show. For the Keep El Paso Honest PAC, she listed a Gmail address.
Sierra’s LinkedIn profile lists him as a partner in Renegade Public Affairs. Workman does not list the company in her LinkedIn profile.
He pleaded guilty to aggravated driving while intoxicated, a felony, in Arizona in 2014. Drunk driving becomes a felony in Arizona upon a third DWI conviction in seven years. He also was charged in El Paso with indecency with a child, though that charge was later dropped. 
Sierra was an organizer of an effort in 2015 to draft Vice President Joe Biden as a Democratic presidential candidate, but the group dropped him after his criminal charges came to light.
He also worked on campaigns for El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser and city Reps. Carl Robinson and Lily Limon, who said they were unaware of Sierra’s legal history, according to reporting by the El Paso Times.
Workman told me that she has worked for Libertarian and Republican candidates in the past. She said she is supporting Fenenbock's Democratic campaign because Fenenbock is “very pragmatic, very sensible.”
Under federal election laws, political action committees can’t coordinate efforts with candidates. They must maintain separate operations.

If you recall, Sierra has publicly stated he has a political hit list of people he wants to run out of local politics. A list that has since grown since he declared it in the El Paso Times.

Sierra, aside from the legal controversies, is a bigger problem for the candidates he associates himself with because of his win-at-all cost and his alleged disregard for campaign laws. As you recall, a source came forward recently that alleged that Carlos Sierra is the source of the ugliest and dirtiest robocall in the history of local politics.

Heres the call to refresh your memory.

Surprisingly people were still willing to hire Carlos Sierra after that accusation. He was connected to a couple of candidates in this election cycle including Richard Samaniego, who is running for County Judge, and Adolfo "Spanky" Sanchez until he was fired from those campaigns.

So it is certainly noteworthy that the longtime Republican operative would work with a PAC that is going to be involved in local campaigns and one connected to Fenenbock, who already has a difficult time dealing with questions about her credentials as a Democrat.

What is even more interesting is that apparently around the same time that the PAC Moore uncovered was being formed, Carlos Sierra was reaching out to Jerome Tilghman's campaign to seek campaign work. As some of you may know Tilghman is a running for congress (again) and is technically an opponent to Fenenbock.

Sierra personally told me a couple months back that he intended on creating a PAC so that he would have the ability to go after candidates. Doing so as a PAC allows him to work independently of a campaign.

This is a clear indication that things are going to get REALLY dirty in the congressional election. It is interesting that when Moore asked if the Fenenbock family was going to be connected to the PAC that there was no definitive answer to that question. It was long rumored that Forma Group was going to be the place where the family was going to put their money for independent expenditures.

That may have changed because of a longtime rivalry between Dora Oaxaca - the person Sierra allegedly attacked in that robocall, and Carlos Sierra. Oaxaca now does work for Forma Group.

Things are gonna get ugly. And its surprising that anyone would still want to be associated with Sierra.

Friday, November 10, 2017

District Clerk Employees

There is a big problem with operations in the judiciary and frankly, if they had the will power, the judges could fix it.

Most of their clerical staff, the ones that work in their courts, don't actually work for the judges. They work for the District Clerk, Norma Favela.

As I have written recently I talk to all kinds of people in the courthouse and by far the most unhappy department of workers is the District Clerk's Office.

Things are so bad there that following this post there will likely be someone looking into who talks to me, who reads my blog, or who leaks complaints.

The morale complaints range from policies about dress code that have been characterized as "abusive" to problems with getting leave that is due to the employee, being in trouble for trivial issues, allegations of favoritism, to complaints about having to participate in the over-the-top holiday celebrations.

From my conversations with county staff and elected officials the biggest complaint is the fact that the staff work in courts, but their boss is in the lower level of the courthouse.

But make no mistake, electeds have made numerous notes of the fact that some of the district clerk best employees often have problem with taking leave (that is due to them). Frankly, that happens because AFSMCE is basically non-existent in the county. If they got off their ass and represented workers to the extent they are supposed to, they could fight off a lot of draconian policies set forth by that office.

The bottom line is that county leaders are not pleased with how district clerk employees are treated.

And you as taxpayers should be annoyed at how much focus there is on non-office related stuff like voting for Favela to be favorite elected official and parties that according to staff, often affect their evaluations if they choose not to participate because they are told they "aren't team players".

Seriously people, when even the electeds notice the treatment, its a bad thing. For now the judges are essentially powerless to do anything about it because the employees belong to the District Clerk's office and she is an independently elected official.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Judicial Watch Part I

I talk to a lot of people in the courthouse.

A lot. Even before I worked there and I talk to everyone from janitors to judges (plural) and everyone in between. 

It is election season and it’s one of the rare times that the folks in the black robes venture out to come mingle with us common folk. After all, they need our vote. 

Well a lot has transpired over the last few days that negatively reflects upon the bench. Everything from pistol-packing JPs with a fondness for their own picture, to reprimands, to a video that is part novela, part cheesy lawyer commercial, part self-inflicted negative ad. 

So it’s been a long time coming for me to walk you through some of the issues going on at the courthouse, so the next several paints will cover everything from recent reprimands, a district court judge that is alleged to be considering running for a county court seat so he can double-dip on retirement, to judges having a problem with how District Clerk Norma Favela’s Office treats their employees.

Get your popcorn ready in the courthouse people, because things are gonna get interesting...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Duran Received Over $37k in Settlement with Socorro

City documents reveal that Socorro City Representative Ralph Duran received $37,615.00 from Socorro tax payers in a settlement in 2014. The amount of money came under previous City Manager Willie Norfleet.

The funds come from tax payers and were settling a claim in which Duran alleged some items of his were taken by the City of Socorro. I can't find any documents substantiating what was allegedly taken from his property or anything that actually establishes the value of the items allegedly taken so I can't pass on any details as to what the settlement was actually for or the value of the items.

However, Duran tried to get ANOTHER settlement to be paid by Socorro tax dollars just this year. That item was not approved by city council. Sources indicate that Duran authorized a construction company to park some vehicles on his land and that resulted in some damages that he attempted to get the tax payers of Socorro to pay for. There are no documents available indicating what Duran's argument for tax payers paying for damages that happened because he gave a construction company permission to park on his property was, so I can't shed any light on what he was thinking submitting a claim.

However, according to a City Official, Duran allegedly inquired with City Staff about the status of his claim after he was recently elected to office. Which makes no sense considering the vote was taken in open session in May of this year.

The bottom line here is that Duran has enriched himself with a claim paid by the citizens of Socorro. This is why you have to pay attention to agenda items and votes, because they matter.

He's on the ballot today in Socorro. And sadly, he will get re-elected. This is what happens in Socorro.

Oh yeah, one quick update. Remember the post I wrote about the little caper with the construction signs in Socorro that he had his name and a campaign message put on, and then put in an actual street in Socorro? Well, I didn't want him to think that just because he is an elected official that he doesn't have to abide by the law, because he's not above the law.

So I submitted a complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission. They can levy a fine. I am still trying to ascertain if he was cited for the placement of signs, which is a Class C misdemeanor.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Troubling Sign Between Fenenbock and Teachers

I went to a Democratic Party event over the weekend that was really nice, but I was reminded of something about a lot of party regulars...they don't reflect the actual electorate in El Paso.

I was reminded because I heard quite a few cheers for Dori Fenenbock who attended the event for about 15 minutes before leaving. She was recognized for "recruiting" 20 new members, which is to say she purchased 20 new memberships so people would vote for her to get the endorsement of the organization.

It troubles me that amongst folks who consider themselves hardcore Democrats, that they would so quickly sell-out the platform of the party to vote for someone who has more of a Republican voting record than a Democratic one and who has a secure-the-border-first approach to immigration reform. But that is because those few people care more about settling scores than about voting for who best exemplifies the values of our Party.

Which is why a recent spat between the American Federation of Teachers union boss in EPISD Ross Moore, and the Fenenbock campaign is something that the electorate should pay close attention to.

When someone running as a Democratic candidate goes to war with labor, its a problem and Democrats voting in the primary should take note.

But before we go any further, here is an article in the El Paso Times about what I have previously written about last week.

The short of it is that AFT Union Boss Ross Moore took issue with a campaign figure in the Fenenbock camp allegedly claiming that the teachers' union affiliated with the AFL-CIO had endorsed Fenenbock.

Whether that actually happened or not isn't the central issue. What is the issue is the response from the Fenenbock campaign. First of all, ever notice how Fenenbock is NEVER AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT?

I don't know of a single campaign where not answering questions on relevant issues got someone elected, so with all the money her campaign is bleeding to consultants, you'd think someone would be worth the money they are paid and come up with a comprehensive media strategy.

And trust me, "not available for comment" isn't a media strategy. I mean seriously, you can't hide her out forever. At some point there is going to be a public forum and she's going to have to answer questions.

But what DID come from her campaign was actually worse than Fenenbock not being available for comment. Apparently the strategy is going to be to have campaign consultant Christian Archer respond to the media.

Judging by his response to the Times, they might want to rethink that strategy.

Moore sent out an email to clarify to his membership that they had not had an endorsement process yet and that any indication otherwise was false. He even gave the Fenenbock camp the benefit of the doubt by saying that whether boasting about the endorsement was intentional or unintentional, the process they have in place remained intact.

As someone who has worked in unions, that is a reasonable, responsible, and proportionate response from a union boss to their membership.

Archer's response on behalf of the Fenenbock campaign was to use the most Trumpian of all responses, calling the issue "fake news".

He referred to a union boss' effort to keep his membership informed of their endorsement process because of alleged events, "a political hatchet job" and went on to say that it was "beneath Dori to even respond".

Apparently everything is beneath Dori because I don't recall the last time she responded to anything. Seriously, what kind of strategist has a wealthy white candidate in El Paso running against a Latina, has that candidate boast about defeating Latino candidates on said candidates website, then thinks its a good idea to say that something is "beneath" said candidate?

The idea is to make your candidate appeal to more than westside upper-crusters, genius. You don't do that by saying something is beneath her! You're supposed to make her endearing to people, not seem out of touch and aloof. Come on man, seriously.

And you know what else you don't do? You don't tell the union that represents the teachers that work in the district Fenenbock ditched to run for congress that they are part of a "political hatchet job" and expect the membership or labor in general to support you.

Frankly, if that is the disposition of the Fenenbock camp toward labor, I think the guys at CLEAT should address it with Fenenbock because they are labor and they endorsed her.

Solidarity means something.

At least to us Democrats anyway...

It is seriously going to look bad if the only thing Fenenbock has to hang her political hat on is her time as a trustee and the teachers in that district endorse her opponent. She should thank her consultant for this one...

Friday, November 3, 2017

Socorro City Rep's Disregard for State Law

This has happened several times now and Socorro City Rep Ralph Duran continues to engage in the same activity, which can only mean he doesn't care what the law says. Duran, who is facing an election in just a few short days, appears to not care about complying with the state election code by using a traffic control device for a non-traffic related purpose on a state highway. 

Let me underscore that last point...ON A STATE HIGHWAY. Not next to one. Not in the right-of-way. ON THE ACTUAL ROAD.

At issue is a traffic control device usually used to advise motorists of some change in driving conditions due to an emergency, safety hazard, or other construction-related issue. Duran, along with Apache Barricade Company, have been putting a message that has nothing to do with traffic control on the signs that says "Re-Elect Ralph Duran for District 2 Representative".

This is obviously completely unethical and an indicator of the fact that he thinks laws shouldn't apply to him, and I'll elaborate on that later in this post, but is a blatant violation of state law.

First, here's a screenshot of some video I shot yesterday of one of the signs in question yesterday on North Loop near St. Peter & Paul's Catholic Church in Socorro.

As you can see, the actual sign is sitting on the road.

You can note that there is traffic in the background, the sidewalk is to the right of the sign and the right-of-way is off to the right of the sidewalk. For this sign's placement to be legal, it would have to be off into the cotton field, to the right of the right-of-way.

State law prohibits political signs to be placed in the right-of-way of roads. Its such an important law that part of the statute indicating you can't put the sign in the ROW is actually REQUIRED to be printed on any political signs that are meant to be seen from a road. 

Its the fine print you see on all campaign signs that are popping up around town.

This sign is obviously a political sign and doesn't comply with the law that way either. Duran will face a fine from the Texas Ethics Commission because I will be filing a complaint on this issue as well later today.

But lest anyone think I'm in the wrong on this one, let me show you the specific parts of state law that are violated here.

First, lets establish that this is in fact a "sign" as covered by the Texas Transportation Code. Here's the definition:

Okay that is an outdoor sign and design, intended, and used to advertise and inform.


Now lets talk about placement of the sign. As you can see from the picture above, the sign is actually ON North Loop. It is required to not even be in the right-of-way of a road. Here is where the code says that doing so is a criminal offense:


Now lets talk about the requirement of ROW placement being so important the law requires a disclaimer to be actually printed on the signs. Here is the part of the code governing the ROW disclaimer, which is not part of said sign:


You'll note that not having that notice on the sign, which you can clearly see from the picture above, it does not, is yet another criminal offense.

And according to the code, a deputy or a constable can actually CONFISCATE a sign that is in violation of the statute, as noted here:

Mr. Duran, along with the current mayor, have violated this before. Back in July the two did the exact same thing. Don't believe me? Well I have a pic from July that shows a previous use of the same kind of signs for the same purpose.

Again, on the ROW, political message, no disclaimer, etc.

But according to one expert in the field who now works for the City of Fort Worth, the barricade company, Apache Barricades, could be in jeopardy of losing their certification with the State of Texas for violations of using traffic control devices for non-traffic control. That would be a major blow to that company. The company, and the individuals working for the company are required to comply with the certification process with the State of Texas.

So lets conclude with what this tactic says about Duran. To me, it says that he has violated the law several times with impunity. It saws he is willing to win no matter the cost or violation of the law. It says that he wants to be a policy maker, but doesn't think he is especially required to follow policies himself. And it says to me he doesn't care that the use of the signs gives the impression that it is some government sanctioned support of his candidacy.

This is the type of win-at-all-costs people that have let down the people of Socorro for years.

And you know what is even sadder?

He's probably gonna win.