Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Annello & Hernandez Push for Tax Increase

In a vote that left a lot of people scratching their head yesterday, the El Paso City Council voted 6-2 against raising a tax on utilities. The proposed increase would have affected residential electric and gas rate payers.

Only two members of council voted to keep the tax in place in order to capture more revenue for the City of El Paso, City Reps Alexsandra Annello and Cassandra Hernandez.

Annello has been largely ineffective as a city rep, having had difficulty passing much of anything and usually ending up in the minority of most votes.

Hernandez is now facing talk of a recall and most of her votes will now likely face a higher level of scrutiny, which is why this vote on her part is so surprising. The backdrop of the petitioners has been partially centered around tax increases.

The duo on council are BFFs and argued that the vote was more about public safety, Annello going so far as to characterize the city's action yesterday as "irresponsible".

Had council voted in favor of the Hernandez-Anello plan it would have meant an increase to rate-payers.

Recall Update - Who's Next?

A source indicates that the recall effort is well on its way to collecting the required number of signatures to force a recall of Mayor Dee Margo.

Multiple sources have also indicated that the plan is to go for a recall against two other city representatives. I'll tell you who the other two are in a minute.

A source close to the recall effort told me last night at an event where signatures were being collected to recall Mayor Dee Margo that they have exceeded 1,000 signatures so far. In order to successfully recall Mayor Margo, the petition circulators have to collect 7,000 signatures in 60 days. That means the effort has to get 117 signatures per day for the next 60 days. So they are off to a pretty strong start and if they can sustain that effort, they should be able to make some history.

My sources also indicated that following the attainment of a sufficient number of signatures to recall Mayor Margo, they will then focus on a recall effort against City Rep Cassandra Hernandez Brown and Dr. Sam Morgan.

It looks like their plan is to get the required signatures against all the candidates so that the next election is a gonna be a recall election for at least three members of council.

Former Mayor Oscar Leeser still has a term of eligibility to be Mayor and is a presumptive mayoral candidate. Its hard to see how anyone else would stand a chance against him - certainly not David Saucedo or Emma Acosta. That reminds me, I have a fun story about Acosta in a future post.

The real question is if the sufficient number of signatures are collected for the recall, does Margo fight for his seat in an election against Leeser? I think he has to and Forma Group will likely push him hard to do so. But its gonna take a lot of money to fight Leeser. A lot.

Getting way ahead of ourselves here but City Reps Cassandra Hernandez wild Dr. Morgan would have to fight for their seats. Hernandez's ego won't let her just walk away and Jeremy Jordan will likely run her campaign. Jordan couldn't campaign his way out of a paper bag and Hernandez protected the street name of a Confederate traitor over naming a street after Dolores Huerta. I'm sure any potential opponent would pounce on that.

Dr. Morgan is former Special Forces soldier. People that are special forces aren't known for quitting or having a hard time with adversity. He had to run twice for his seat before he was able to win it. Its unlikely he'd just hand it over to someone else.

Its all about who runs in those elections.

Providing that the petition efforts are successful in the first place.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Margo Recall Effort

The move was almost genius.

Petitions are now going to go out to recall Mayor Dee Margo. The circulators of the petitions have 60 days to gather 6,000 signatures to force a recall of Mayor Margo. That means they have to get at least 100 signatures a day between now and October 9th.

Had they pulled the trigger on this sooner, they could've been collecting signatures and had time to get on the November ballot. Had Margo been on a November ballot - especially this November - he would have been trounced.


The hill to climb would have been gathering the signatures.

Recalls are rare, as I recall only one has been successful in the County - and that had to be in Socorro and involve a Gandara.

But based on the timing now, the gathering of signatures will now be a lot easier for the circulators. The Democratic Party is likely going to help circulate petitions because, well, Margo is a Republican.

There is an obvious and pronounced anti-Republican sentiment in town that has been building to a crescendo and frankly, if the signatures can't be gathered now then it'll never happen.

The only thing that might stop them from gathering the signatures is the reasons they chose for circulating the petition. They mention taxes and CO's etc.

They are essentially recalling a Republican mayor for acting like a Democrat. Their other argument is an alleged violation of the First Amendment with the stupid stance Margo takes on public comment. Its not a violation of the First Amendment by the way. It has a chilling effect on speaking out - sorta - but its not a violation. Government bodies don't even have to have a public comment portion of a meeting.

But the one thing they mention that probably is the STRONGEST argument for their cause is Margo's transparency problem.

That, quite frankly, should be the main push for the recall. Its something anyone can wrap their head around.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Margo did this to himself. The public comment thing is stupid. He shouldn't have done what he's done with public comment. Give people their three minutes. Let them have their say. People that speak in public comment are always pissed off about something. Let them vent and have their say. I say that as someone who has been to public comment. Remember when Emma Acosta and her imp Dora Oaxaca made an agenda item about me? I do. I'll never forget that.

Anywho, Margo has no one to blame but himself for people being pissed at him for the public comment thing. No on likes to be criticized but if you can't take it, don't run for office.

The email thing is just straight-up pendejo of Margo. Talk about embarrassing for the people of El Paso. Its not like personal communication hasn't been a thing in the public or anything. Come on man, you really screwed up that badly on transparency knowing full well that personal communication on issues is ROUTINELY requested.

Its hard to feel sorry for Margo when he goes out of his way to be a villain. And the email thing wasn't just an embarrassment to the Mayor, it was an embarrassment to the City.

Next in Line

This election, assuming they get the signatures, won't be until next year. It'll be next May. That is plenty of time for Margo to get his crap together. It works to his advantage having that much time to fix things before a recall.

But David Saucedo shouldn't look at this as his way back into the politics. He should continue to smoke whatever it is that he's smoking that makes him think he's viable for a state rep seat and not embarrass himself again. Because Saucedo is not viable for mayor.

Especially because I'd be willing to bet the farm that Mayor Leeser will come back and run again. I know some of you may have forgotten, but the former mayor still has another term of eligibility. It would be the prefect opportunity for him to come back and make another run.

And he'd win.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

District 8 Race

The other westside seat also has several candidates running. The incumbent City Rep Cissy Lizarraga is facing four opponents, which will likely mean another run-off election. Lizarraga is in a decent position right now, even though she hasn't been in office long.

She has far more name ID than her opponents. She won a tough special election that was made necessary when Cortney Niland vacated her seat. Back then she faced candidates with some money and name ID, namely Gilbert Guillen. She won handily thanks to a strong ground game run by Mike Apodaca.

So there are some things for Lizarraga that are different than they were when she won this seat recently - Apodaca is out of town right now working on Beto's race, she now has a voting record she can run on, she now has a voting record her opponents can run against and the field of candidates she's facing is pretty different than it was previously.

Unlike the District 1 race, there aren't any candidates that are well-funded to my knowledge, there aren't any with any proven proficiency in field work, and there is only one with any name ID.

The opponents are Rich Wright, Nicholas Vasquez, Dylan Corbett, and Gregory Baine. At this stage of the game, even though I don't think he's officially on the ballot, Rich Wright is the main opponent for Lizarraga. Wright has the most name ID of the field of opponents. He's been around for a long time and he's got the most voting history of field of opponents.

He's collecting signatures to be on the ballot. That is one of the ways to get on the ballot. The other way to get on the ballot is to pay the fees. Gathering signatures is a good dry run for field work, lets you talk to some voters and get a feel for what they are paying attention to, and work on your pitch to voters.

But the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot is really, really small. Its seriously small. In District 6, George Eric Stoltz needed only 25 signatures to get on the ballot.

Thats nothing.

You should be able to get them in a day, two tops. If you can't get them really quickly, then your campaign is already in trouble.

Its possible that Wright already has the required number of signatures to get on the ballot, which is more in D8 than in D6, and might still be collecting signatures so that he has a lot of signatures to turn in to send a message to the incumbent about the level of his support.

Of the opponents, Wright is likely to be the most well-rounded on issues and he has a pretty clean logo. If he has money and can get a field op going, he's gonna remain the head of the pack of the opponents. But with 89 days to go to election day, whoever has the best field op going has a shot for the run-off.

Which brings me to Nicolas Vasquez. He has some field experience and he's already turned in signatures to get on the ballot. Looks like he tried to get a little cute with his logo that cleverly tries to make an outline of the mountain as the N in his first name and the star on the mountain as the A in his middle name.  He's one of the Duranguito Boyz running for office this cycle. He lists his occupation as "student" and he's 27. According to the application he's only lived in the area for about a year and half. Those are some things that could be leveraged against him by any of the other candidates, but being young and hungry goes a long way. He's a dark horse but has a shot. He might be able to out-work everyone else and sneak into a run-off.

Dylan Corbett lists being a non-profit executive as his occupation. I've never heard of him and he has a pretty thin voting history. He doesn't appear to have a base to work from, but if he has money and decides to do a mail campaign, who knows. But less than 90 days is a short period of time to get people to know how you are and vote for you.

Greg Baine is retired military. Until the last primary election Baine has only voted in municipal and general elections. But in the last primary cycle he voted Republican.

Bottom line in this race is that there are 5 candidates and only one of them has a demonstrated base. If the four opposing candidates can get enough family and friends to vote then its a matter of who is going to be in a run-off with Lizarraga, mostly between Wright and Vasquez.

But a run-off isn't as forgone a conclusion as you might think in a race with this many people in it. Hell the same is true for D1 now that I think about it. This municipal race is going to be on a general election cycle. its a name ID race because you're going to have more than your regular municipal voter come out. The base will be more Democratic than in previous years. There are more races that are pushing people out to the polls than previously. More campaigns are touching a wider range of voters. So its a steeper mountain to climb for the opposition to pull Lizarraga into a run-off.

With under 80 days to go, if you aren't walking on the westside, its too late.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Revenge of Armando Rodriguez?

Armando Rodriguez apparently is taking the fact that I questioned the appearance of a conflict between his participation in statewide education boards and his employment pretty personally. Unfortunately for him, he didn't think things through and likely got on the bad side of the wrong person as a result.

Rodriguez, who is a bit of a controversy magnet but goes by the motto "Mandito can", apparently really wants this seat on the Texas Association of School Boards pretty badly. He's facing EPISD Trustee Al Velarde and Tornillo ISD Trustee Marlene Bullard for the position. Rodriguez has been calling trustees all across the county kissing ass to get their votes.

Mandito can what, is beyond me. I can't honestly tell you anything of note that he has accomplished for his community while a trustee in Canutillo.

But Rodriguez did something that was pretty petty, which I guess underscores his character issues, that either shows just how badly he wants (needs?) the seat, or it shows just how terrible his judgement is. Either way, it demonstrates why I don't think he's a good choice to represent the area on that board.

Check out this screenshot:

Rodriguez had apparently been set up to be a regular donor to State Board of Education Representative Georgina Perez, who is a bit of a rock star in education circles. She's accomplished more in a couple of years in the post than her predecessors have in a couple of decades - whether its reforming policy to ensure thousands of Texans can get the high school diploma their entitled to, single-handedly stocking the soon-to-be library in Socorro, speaking out against separation of families, helping a mom get permission to cross the border to see her daughter graduate, getting Dolores Huerta back into Texas text books, or bringing Mexican American studies to Texas high schools, Perez walks the walk.

And when she was elected, she didn't lose a single precinct in El Paso County. Don't believe me? Go look it up.

And trust me, thats just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what she's done. She's one of the few elected officials I saw this about, but its absolutely a compliment - she's chingona.

Rodriguez also knows that she's a good friend of mine. I first met her more than a decade ago when I was doing some union work in EPISD and she was a loud hell-raising teacher in YISD. She spoke at an event I was at and we started chatting during some down time and we've been friends ever since. She mentioned the idea of running for SBOE once and I helped her out with her campaign.

Armando Rodriguez made the mistake a lot of people have made in the past. He knew I was writing a piece that was going to discuss his potential conflict of interest and he tried to apply pressure to either stop me from writing it or influencing how I was going to write it.

During one of our conversations the day before I posted my piece on the topic, he'd mentioned that he'd called Perez. Seriously, you people don't learn. No one tells me what to write. No one can tell me what not to write. Not Vince, not Georgina, not Susie, Vero, Eddie, Claudia, Beto or anyone else you people have thought over the years influence me.

Not even Kathryn.

Ask Norma Chavez how trying to tell me what to write works out...

Long story short, that never works out well for someone when they try to tell me what to write about. I'm my own vato. I stand on my own beliefs and by my words.

The fact that he cut off a monthly donation to Perez because he's pissed about what I wrote is childish and immature. Its not about the money, it was only a few bucks a month. She's not going to miss it. Its about the idea that he was trying to "punish" her for what I wrote.

Honestly, knowing Perez she probably just laughed it off. But I called her anyway just to get comment from her on this and this was her response. She took the high road but still had a pretty strong message:

"I think its an unfortunate reaction from Trustee Rodriguez. I think its important for Mr. Rodriguez to learn that representing El Paso is largely about cultivating relationships. Criticism comes with the job and there was a more mature way for Mr. Rodriguez to react to a policy-based critique. I don’t know if it will impact other trustees making their decision on who to support for the Texas Association of School Boards, but I look forward to working with whomever is elected to the position by their colleagues."

But frankly, I think its a stupid move. Mando has enough stuff hanging over his head. He's constantly in the news for something bad and I am not the first person to question his ethics, conduct, or perceived conflict of interest. At this point he should be more concerned that Gina doesn't start picking up the phone on her own and calling trustees and giving them her two cents about Rodriguez.

The last thing his little effort to get on TASB needs is to have the SBOE calling Trustees and weighing-in on his conduct. Hell, the fact that he even tried to play hard ball with her in the first place should make trustees thing twice about voting for him. You really think he's going to be effective on that board while having an adversarial relationship with the most popular and accomplished State Board of Education Rep this county has ever seen?

You know she accomplished everything she's done all while being in the SUPER MINORITY on her Board? You really think she won't eat you for breakfast Mando?

Hell, Perez went to a board meeting in Canutillo once to stop a bad policy that was going to hurt poor brown kids in the area. For a guy who says "Mandito can", he sure couldn't stop that policy.

So Georgina went over there and went to bat for those kids.

But hey, I figured out the answer to my question early about what exactly "Mandito can" do.

Looking for a trustee that knows how to blow a critical relationship for his constituency?

"Mandito can."

Dude, Where's My Pants?

In other adventures of Armando Rodriguez, this is a picture of him at last nights special meeting at Canutillo ISD where Rodriguez is a trustee. The agenda including some pretty important stuff like sale of properties, elections, and audit items. Mandito apparently didn't think it was important enough to wear pants. This is the guy that wants to represent El Paso on the Texas Association of School Boards.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Republican CD 16 Tickets Go At It

Williams (L) - Seeberger (R)
The two Republican candidates facing Congresswoman-Elect Veronica Escobar in the November general election have apparently turned on one another.

Obviously that brings me great joy.

But its actually really funny.

Let me back up a bit and explain what is going on. Samuel Williams is an ultra-conservative Donald Trump fan. He's running as an "independent" but he's not independent at all. He's a Republican. He just didn't get his Party's nomination.

Trust me, he's the right of just about anyone that has ever run for office in El Paso.

The other guy is Rick Seeberger, the guy who actually won the GOP nomination. But make no mistake about it, they are both Trumpters.

As you may recall, I wrote about some of Seeberger's dirty laundry, which consisted mostly of bankruptcies but there is also that issue that some have called colloquially, taking candy from babies.

Which despite how some have characterized it, isn't exactly what happened. Seeberger allegedly was involved with a fundraiser activity with a school PTA and the proceeds were allegedly never paid to the PTA.


Anywho, that article was in the Los Angeles Times. Samuel Williams decided to pay for a sponsored ad on Facebook and placed a link to the article.

Thats some gacho stuff right there.

Its something we Democrats would have no problem doing, but the Republicans usually keep a modicum of civility in local races, which is funny because, well, Donald Trump and all.

This is likely going to escalate.

Personally, I can't wait to watch it blow up. The comment section is already pretty damn interesting.

District 5: Shallow Waters

Politically speaking Eastsiders have a reputation of being fat, dumb, and happy. I don't mean they are actually fat and dumb, I mean that in generally they don't have much to complain about. Generally speaking you have a lot of younger families that tend to be upper middle class and more educated.

Their persona is very different than say the westside, where everyone pretty much thinks their entitled to every thing and the Northeast, where everyone seems to hate living there and complain about everything.

Like people in Fabens.

I'd like to be able to give some in-depth analysis about this race but frankly there's not much there. And trust me when I tell you, there really isn't much there.

District 5 is hands-down the weakest field of candidates, even by El Paso standards. There are four candidates and between the four of them, they have almost no voting history.

John B. Hogan is an older guy at 62. He's only voted in two general elections (2016, 2017) and the Democratic Primary (2018). Thats it. No other voting history in Texas. That surprising because seniors usually have a much thicker voting history. I presume he voted for Fenenbock in that 2018 primary election because I've seen him on social media and that guy is no Democrat. He's a Trump supporter and pretty conservative. He's campaign page has a lot of info about his views on issues, which is a good thing. He's pretty much ahead of the rest of the field in terms of policy. So far he's the only one running that looks like he has anything in the neighborhood of a platform.

Kizito Ekechukwu has apparently never voted. There is zero voting history for that guy. I hate when people run for office that have never even voted. I don't know how they can ever expect anyone to take them seriously. I thought this guy was like a motivational speaker or something, but his paperwork says he's an auditor. Don't know anything else about the guy because, well he doesn't appear to have been involved in anything political yet, though he's only 28 so that isn't uncommon.

Benjamin Miranda, Jr is the only identified Republican in the field. He also has the most voting history of any of the shallow pool of candidates. He's about my age and he's voted in four elections. Thats really poor voting history, but hey its more than everyone else. He's voted in two generals and two primaries, both of which were Republican primaries.

Jason Osborne, not to be confused with the cool spy movie character from The Borne Identity franchise, is the latest to file. Osborne appears to have voted in one election, that being the 2018 primary. He voted Democrat in that primary. I got nothing on this guy other than what is on his paperwork. He lists "Security Consultant" as his occupation. His application says he's been at his current address in the district for 4 years, but not long enough to change his cell phone to a "915" area code. He is 35 years old.

Eastsiders are hungry for a good candidate and from what I've heard from a lot of them so far is that they are unimpressed with the field, those that even know who is running. If someone with any amount of name ID jumps in the race they will likely jump to the front.

There have been at least two really good candidates that were going to run and ultimately decided not to run. Both are young, educated, professionals with degrees. Both very photogenic, both Latino/a candidates with experience in government. Frankly, either would have won in a cake walk.

Do you know why they both chose not to take their talent to city hall?

Money. They simply couldn't afford the salary.

Its really popular for people to be against a decent salary for elected officials. But your city council reps are likely the ones that have the most impact on your daily life. And we don't pay them a decent wage, so that is why we have the type of people we have on council. The only people that can afford to serve on council are the independently wealthy who usually have business interests that take them away from the office, or people that are retired and have a second income. They have the time to commit to the office, but neither group really look like your average El Pasoan.

If there was ever a field of candidates that demonstrates why you need a wage that can attract good talent to city council, District 5 is it. There were two candidates with experience in government, managing big budgets, managing public funds, and understand the complexities of policy. If you were hiring someone to do the job, they'd be your finalists.

But the electorate doesn't want to pay for quality talent.

And here we are with the shallow pool of candidates.

Monday, August 6, 2018

District 1 Field Expanding

Westsiders apparently have a pretty low threshold for their elected officials. Both westside city reps are facing a lot of opponents, which makes a run-off election more and more likely. Incumbents in elections generally lose, although lately that trend isn't the political death sentence it used to be.

Late last week two more opponents for Svarzbein made it official by filing at the city clerks office. Richard Bonart - who is said to be sitting on $20k - filed is paperwork late last week. Svarzbein isn't going to raise anywhere near as much money as he did in the first election so the fact that Bonart has that much starter money is pretty significant.

If that is ALL the money Bonart is going to have, then its not so significant.

Enter, Veronica Frescas. "Roni" as she is commonly known as - if she can get funding - is the one to watch in this race. The only Latina running for the seat, Frescas has deep policy knowledge which is going to be a huge advantage over Carlos Corral.

Roni has been involved in the El Paso political scene for a long time, and she's helped out on a lot of campaigns. The challenge for her is moving from behind the scenes type of activism and campaigning, to being an actual candidate. Frescas has the most upside to her and in a field of men she's not gonna have a hard time distinguishing herself.

Svarzbein is the incumbent. He's the one with a record that can be scrutinized. He's the one they are trying to unseat. So he's going to face the most heat from everyone else and from the public.

I think if Frescas gets some funding and as committed to a strong field operation, I think she's most likely to make a run-off with Svarzbein. People that didn't want to elect an artsy film guy with no political experience, or regret that they did, aren't going to be too hot about electing Corral who is essentially a browner version of the incumbent before he was elected.

Although Corral appears to be more willing to dress like an adult and wear a suit. If he packages himself more as a businessman instead of an artist, that will be more successful for him.

Bonart is the X factor for two reasons. One - he's run and lost before. He's got name ID in that area and he's sitting on some money. He's also got a great reputation for being a stand-up guy, which is something you can't buy, only earn. If Max Grossman gets his Houston Sugar Daddy to kick in some money, that could be even more Bonart has in the war chest (which should have all the bottom feeders like Jeremy Jordan cold calling him). The downside is of course, being associated with Max Grossman. Especially because Max Grossman doesn't know how to shut up, so his big mouth is likely going to be something that will be a boat anchor around Bonart.

One day in his efforts to buy a city council, Grossman will realize its better to help quietly and not become a distraction. Just kidding, his ego is too big for him to ever learn that.

Tomorrow, D5.

Friday, August 3, 2018

TASB Election Heats Up

Normally no one cares about the Texas Association of School Boards.

Actually, you probably still don't care about them after reading this. Nonetheless there is an election for the local representative to the TASB and its between three people - Marlene Bullard from Tornillo ISD, Al Velarde from EPISD, and Armando Rodriguez from Canutillo ISD.

Bullard has a steep hill to climb in this one primarily because she has a smaller base to work with as a trustee in a rural community, so the race is really between Velarde and Rodriguez. In the next couple of weeks most of the school districts will be voting on this issue, with several of them voting on the same night. Both Velarde and Rodriguez are working the phones to try to get support from the various trustees in the county.

District trustees vote on who they want to represent the area by passing an agenda item in favor of their choice. So unlike most elections, you can get a sense of who is winning and who is losing before the election is finalized.

Bullard works at Fabens ISD and they voted previously on the issue, voting to support Rodriguez. But there was some procedural confusion so they brought the issue back and are voting on it again on the 15th. If Bullard doesn't win Fabens, she's basically done and not viable.

Question of Conflict

The real issue in this election is the conversation surrounding the appearance of a conflict of interest involving Armando Rodriguez. Mando is employed by Hellas Construction. They build stadiums and sell turf, so school districts are a major part of their sales. Rodriguez is in Business Development, in other words, sales.

The question of a conflict of interest with Rodriguez working for a company that does business with schools came up in the media previously and the concerns were put to rest when Rodriguez assured the board that his company doesn't do business with Canutillo ISD, where he is a board member.

Frankly, that is pretty open and shut. If his employer doesn't do business with the district, its not a big deal.

But things aren't so clear when you're talking about TASB or the Mexican American School Board Association. Those are statewide entities in which Rodriguez holds an official position.

Here's the big question for the trustees voting and the media reporting on this issue - Rodriguez indicates that the has attended education conferences as a vendor for his company. Is that an appearance of a conflict of interest?

Personally, I think its pretty obvious that it is. He sits on educational boards with statewide membership. That gives him relationships with trustees across the state of Texas. He admits attending educational conferences as a vendor, to which trustees are very often attendees. Trustees make the ultimate procurement decisions.

You're telling me that isn't problematic?

I spoke to Rodriguez to give him an opportunity to tell his side of the story.

Me: My question is about who you work for, not about the fact that you have a job. 

Mando: Its a job I applied for on LinkedIn and was able to get.

Me: Your employer is involved in school construction projects among other things. They also sell artificial turf to schools. Do you feel there is a conflict with your employment and if not, why not?

Mando: Nope. I've asked legal council of TASB and she said none at all. My goal on the TASB board is to make sure they understand the issues of a border community so we can help legislation in equity and set the direction of the organization as it relates to goals. 

Me: So one key component of conflict of interest is the appearance of conflict. Are you concerned at all about the perception of a conflict of interest of you being on a statewide board while working for a company that does business with Texas schools. 

Mando: Nope I don't mix the two. 

Mando (about two hours later): I am not concerned. My role as a TASB board member does not include or involved decisions made related to purchasing at the local school board level. TASB promotes policies and educational objectives designed to assist Board in the delivery of quality education to students. 

My point wasn't about whether as a TASB board member he was making purchasing decisions at the local level. Of course he doesn't, that isn't the issue. I don't know if he didn't understand my concern or if he's just giving me a red herring argument, but the questionable situation is the fact that he is a sales guy for a vendor that does business with schools. Serving on these statewide boards with other trustees gives him an inherent advantage at performing his sales job.

The question isn't if he's making the actual vote at a school district level, its about him making the pitch for the product to trustees who do make the actual vote, that know him through relationships that he's cultivated on boards like MASBA and TASB.

I was told by a school board trustee that Rodriguez attended at least one education conference wearing something that had the name of his employer on it, though the trustee wasn't clear as to whether it was a name tag or a shirt with the company name on it. I found out Rodriguez attended education conferences as a vendor - that is to say he attended education conferences like the coach's conferences in his official work capacity as a salesman.

In a bit of whataboutism, Rodriguez raised the question about whether Velarde had a possible conflict. So I asked Velarde about his work as an Executive Director of a non-profit. V

ME:  ...he raised a legitimate question. Does Paso del Norte health foundation have contracts with schools or districts and in what capacity do you work with them?

VELARDE: First, we are not the Paso del Norte Health Foundation so I don't know what they have in place if anything. We are the Paso del Norte Children's Development Center. We do provide space to EPISD for them to operate a PK3 and a PK4. We have an MOU in place but we get no payment from EPISD. This was set up before I got here. We provide a teaching assistant for the EPISD teacher at our cost and get no cost to the district. The only thing we get is that a few of the kids stay with us for childcare before or after their class. We did an analysis on it and we are loosing approximately $3,000 per month on this arrangement. We do it because we are the best option for children with special needs because we bring therapy into the classroom for them.

Rodriguez believes that Velarde is running against him because his enemies on the Canutillo Board of Trustees put Velarde up to run against Mando and he further believes that Velarde is bad mouthing him to other Trustees. The reality is that I was the one who questioned the conflict issue because of his employment when I had heard he was calling trustees to solicit support for his candidacy.

Sources also indicate he's been trying to do some damage control over the phones in anticipation of my post.

I don't particularly care who is going to represent the area on a board of limited influence. I'm asking a legitimate question about his potential conflict because a compromised member is not an advantage for the El Paso area.

Controversy seems to follow Rodriguez pretty regularly. Here is an editorial by the El Paso Times calling into question transparency. And this isn't the first time that questions have been raised regarding Armando Rodriguez' possible issues with conflict. Click here to read that story.

I'll update you in a future poll about the eventual outcome of the race later this month.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Records: EP Republican Candidate Filed for Bankruptcy 6 Times

Before I get started, I have been warned by several people (Republican and Democrat alike) that I should tread lightly when writing about Republican candidate Rick Seeberger because he is "litigious".

I get that a lot. People threaten to sue me all the time and I view it like I view any street fight - if you could, you would and you damn sure wouldn't talk about it, you'd just do it.

So Rick Seeberger doesn't scare me. I appreciate your concern but I took a look at what he has filed in the past and it was pretty laughable. Also, since he's a candidate for public office now its a lot harder for him to sue someone that writes a political post about a candidate for office, so good luck with that buddy.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way lets talk about what I've found out about Seeberger. He's taking on County Judge Veronica Escobar in the general election in November for El Paso's 16th Congressional District.

Despite the fact that he isn't a viable candidate, he is still the Republican nominee for the seat and as such he deserves some healthy scrutiny.

Seeberger's biggest problem appears to be finances - both personal and business. There appear to be at least 6 different filings for bankruptcy - 2 personal filings and 4 business filings. Mr. Seeberger appears to have filed for personal bankruptcy twice in the past 11 years in the Western District of Texas and four times for business entities since 2011. Three times were for the same non-profit entity called the 20-20 Leadership Foundation and the other was for an entity called ORSA, LLC.

None of the business filings appear to have been approved by the Court.

This link contains a copy of the documents filed with the Court relating to the various bankruptcy proceedings. 

Interestingly listed as creditors on at least one of the filings are the Seebergers themselves, the City of El Paso, and Doña Ana County in Las Cruces.

The most recent bankruptcy filing was in 2016.

The funds owed to the City of El Paso appear to be for property taxes and are a pretty hefty chunk of change.

Speaking of that 2016 claim - one of the creditors listed in that most recent claim was a lawyer who handled a previous bankruptcy claim!

Those are some pretty big financial issues facing the El Paso Republican Party's nominee. To add yet another layer of irony to this situation is a Facebook post I came across on his campaign page.

You've gotta admit that it takes a lot of nerve to have that kind of financial background and have the stones to make a list of things you want voters to think about when voting and the #3 thing listed is his business acumen.

Thats like Max Grossman giving advice on how to be humble or Norma Chavez telling someone how to be nice and act stately in public.

I know, crazy right?

There's also some problems with his FEC filings that I'll talk about in an upcoming posts.

Everyone has money problems from time to time. It happens, I get it. I'm honestly surprised that this bankruptcy thing didn't come up in the Republican primary. If you have this amount of finance problems, maybe you shouldn't be criticizing someone who managed a multi-million dollar debt.

And if you owe property taxes to the extent that he apparently does, I totally get why you're complaining about how high they are, but most voters with far less income pay theirs every year.

After knowing this information, it doesn't appear that "Think First" is something you really want to be telling voters because if they do, well it probably won't work out very well for Mr. Seeberger.

Seriously, only in the age of Trumpism does the party of fiscal restraint have the audacity to nominate a candidate with that level of finance problems to congress.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Seeberger still has not replied to my question about whether he is the same Rick Seeberger listed in an LA Times article I wrote about last week).

Friday, July 27, 2018

Sad Education Stories

I ran across this story on my newsfeed about El Paso ranking among the least educated cities in America. It was a story form KFOX.

The other day I ran across this story from the Houston Chronicle. showing the highest paid superintendents in Texas.

While we rank amongst the least educated communities, EPISD's superintendent is enjoying his spot at the 7th highest paid superintendent in Texas.

Now there is a lot of talk about how much accountability there needs to be on teachers. There is a lot of talk and focus on how students perform on standardized testing.

All under the premise that we need to focus on performance and accountability because after all, we should be good stewards of tax payer dollars right?

So if you don't see that there is a fundamental problem with an equation that ranks El Paso among the least educated communities and the superintendent of our largest ISD making almost $400 grand after salary and perks, then there is something wrong with you.

I believe you should pay for good talent. I am the first to say that. I don't fault anyone for making a buck. But when you are making that much money, you damn sure better be showing some results other than a budget in trouble, a top heavy administration, and schools being shut down.

And yet y'all are pissed about county commissioners giving themselves a small raise. If you're really that focused on money, you should be pissed at a super making that obscene of a salary and not having much to show for it.

Give him the same performance accountability we expect from our students and teachers. I don't think that is too much to ask, do you?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Margo Trading Ricks

It really didn't click to me how messed up Mayor Margo's move to kick Rick Bonart was until the White House banned a reporter from CNN yesterday.

Trump has made silencing dissenters all the latest rage - which is bad for Democracy.

Look, the Mayor has the authority to replace folks if he wants to. That is perfectly within his rights as the Mayor of the City of El Paso. But the reality is that it was, for lack of a better expression, a dick move.

First of all Bonart's term wasn't up and there is no real sense of urgency to remove him, other than the fact that he's going against what the mayor wants.

Second, he replaces Bonart with Rick Cabrera? Look I like Rick, and he's pretty decent at pick-up basketball, by why on earth would the Mayor risk the optics of appointing someone that works for a company that purchased a company Margo used to own and his son still works for?

And Rick...come on vato, you've been around news long enough to know that you'll be seen as the Mayor's boy on the commission from now until your term runs out.

I don't understand why either of them thought this was a good idea.

But back to my main point - this is a bad move by the Mayor and sets a dangerous precedent. Why would anyone but yes men/women want to serve on a commission if they know they are going to get booted out if they dare disagree with Heir Margo?

You can't ignore the timing on this move at all. Its the most transparent bullshit I've seen council do in a long time.

Now, if the removal was because he is running against Svarzbein, then the city needs to make a policy about holding commission seats and running for office. Absent a policy, there's no reason to remove an active and engaged member of a commission just because he's a dissenting voice. And oh by the way, he hasn't filed to run yet, so even if that was the reason, he hasn't filed yet.

Council - control your Mayor.

He's gonna keep bullying y'all until you grow a pair and put him in his place. This makes the city look bad. We want rigorous debate. We want a competition of ideas.

We don't want to be come Trumpistan where there is rule with an iron fist and dissenters are quickly disposed of.

What Do You Have to Lose? Part 2

Take note of this word. 
I love a good story. So gather 'round kids while Tio Jaime tells you a great story.

Everybody comfortable?

Cool. This is a story your ol' Tio Jaime came across on the inter webs. If you want to read it, just click this link to a story in the Los Angeles Times.

Now kids, this is an old story - from 1985. But the latest chapters in the saga were just a couple years go.

Here we go.

Once upon a time in a far off magical land called California, lived a bunch of young students. These kids went to a school called Eshelman Avenue Elementary School. Their parents had formed a PTA and wanted to do a fundraiser for the kiddos. So some of the parents walked their first graders around their neighborhood selling holiday-themed items like chocolate Santa's and Christmas ornaments.

They did pretty well too, racking up about $17 grand in sales. That was supposed to net the PTA about $8,000 in profit - just in time for the holidays. But the company didn't come through with the money at the date they indicated they would.

Weeks passed.

Weeks turned into months.

At one point they were even given an unsigned check by the company and told that the company didn't have the money but would in a month.

According to the article above, the company's president was a man named Rick Seeberger.

But Tio Jaime, I've heard that name before.

Thats right mijo, you have. Now calmala and don't interrupt, I'm getting to that.

Where was I? Oh yes, months had gone by and the kiddos never got their cash.

So the Los Angeles Times did an interview with Rick Seeberger.

In the interview, "Seeberger said that he left the company in March, when its inability to pay bills--including Seeberger's salary--forced him to file for personal bankruptcy." 

But Tio Jaime, isn't that the guy with the big bill -

Hey, hey. Didn't I tell you to chata already mijo?


Yeah, chata hell up and let me tell the story.

Sorry Tio Jaime.

Its cool mijo, just let me finish and don't ruin it for everyone else. Where was I? Oh yeah, the vato is the president of the company, but said he left the company because they weren't paying the vato and he had to file bankruptcy.

This is where things get really interesting...

Turns out that the newspaper kept asking questions. They wanted to know who else worked for the company. Here's what the paragraph in the article said,

Seeberger would not name any other officers in the company, saying the information is "nobody else's business." Records filed in the secretary of state's office, dated February, 1985, list Seeberger as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, director and agent of the company. Huntington Beach resident Jenny Weddle, the only other person listed as an officer of the company, is named as secretary, but Weddle could not be reached for comment. The company phone number has been disconnected.
Thats cray-cray Tio! 

I know, huh?

So after they filed bankruptcy Seeberger said he still intended for the school to get paid and told the paper that he offered to have the kids do another fundraiser sale.

What? Tio, esta mas loco que la chin-

Hey! Watch your mouth cabron!

Sorry Tio, but does he think those people are stupid o que?

Hold on foo, let me get there. I'm telling the story here...

Anywho, the school district in LA had bad policies in place that opened the door for these kind of pendejadas to take place. The company was approved by the district to do business with schools. The district has since changed policies to make sure that schools get their cut first.

Now kids, that Rick Seeberger name sounds familiar doesn't it? Well there is a Republican guy running for congress here in El Paso with the same name right now.

Is it the same vato, Tio Jaime?

Good question mijo. I don't know for sure. Its not a common name. But, I did try to find out of it was the same vato. I sent a message to his official campaign Facebook page and asked if he was the same guy featured in the article and if so, if he wanted to give his side of the story.

Now, I don't know who Wesley Anthony Lawrence is, but that was the auto reply I got last night when I reached out in an attempt to verify if it was the same Rick Seeberger.

As you can see in this screen shot, someone has read the message this morning at 6:41, but no one has answered my query.

What's a query Tio?

Look it up.

While you're at it, read the article I posted above. After all, what do you have to lose?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Everything, the Answer is Everything

I saw this billboard a while back and I honestly just laughed aloud for a few reasons. First, I've said this before so you already know what I think about this but billboards are a waste of money. Its like the worlds largest yard sign.

But thats not what cracked me up the most. What cracks me up the most is the top of the sign - "What do you have to lose?"

If you recall, that is the same line that Trump used on "the blacks" when he was trying to convince the African American community to support him.

This comes across as a white guy asking "the browns" the same thing Trump asked the African American community.

And we all see how well that worked out, amirite?

So if you do what his sign says, Think First - it makes his line even more funny! You want us to think first vato? I got three words for ya.


Seeberger is your garden variety Trump supporting Republican. Interestingly though, I caught him during some of the debates during the primary and he tries very hard to not sound like a garden variety Trumpkin when he's in front of Democrats. When he was at a debate at EPCC he really went out of his way to act like he wasn't an extremist on immigration policy. He really pushed back on that idea - in front of Democrats.

I know, shocker right? A politician that will say one thing in front of one crowd and another thing in front of a different crowd.

His rhetoric on his Facebook page is your typical Trump-a-like lines and he is predictably an extremist.

If you look real close at his sign he even has a biblical reference on it.


For those of you wondering,

but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;    they will run and not grow weary,    they will walk and not be faint.

But you know what reference isn't on his sign?

Who the hell paid for it. 

Even that fool Carlos Sierra - who still hasn't filed the required paperwork for his Keep El Paso Honest PAC - at least put that info on his shitty billboards.

That reminds me, I wonder if Sheriff Wiles has ended Chris Acosta's constant use of Carlos Sierra on campaigns yet?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Socorro Families Saved

Families in Socorro that live near Coker Road can breath a little easier thanks to a few items passed last Thursday night by the Socorro City Council. Councilman At-Large Rene Rodriguez put an item on the agenda to instruct city staff to explore the use of the area for a dual-use pond and park space.

That move would mean that the city can acquire the land via eminent domain, meaning that the home owners would at least get fair market value for their homes. Under an effort supported by City Rep Ralph Duran and Mayor Elia Garcia, the homeowners would not have received any compensation and their homes would have been taken via a nuisance ordinance.

Ultimately the measure to direct staff to come up with a public base plan by Rep Rodriguez passed with a 4-0 vote.

In other developments, Mayor Elia Garcia was removed as the city's representative on the MPO and council voted in favor of replacing her with City Representative Rene Rodriguez by a 4-1 vote, with Rep Duran voting to keep the mayor. Duran is a close political ally of Mayor Garcia and during the debate accidentally put his ally on the spot. Rodriguez had been arguing that Garcia had strained relations with members of the MPO and that she hadn't notified council of some possible changes that would have a major impact on the City of Socorro. Duran, wanting to save her seat, challenged Rodriguez asking him why he hasn't offered to help the Mayor and guide her on key projects and issues relating to the MPO. Rodriguez indicated that he had tried and that they mayor said she didn't need his help.

The mayor didn't deny saying that, which is likely what sealed the vote for the other members of council to replace her.

The other issue Socorro is still dealing with has to do with a dangerous media policy. Council voted to have a workshop on the issue so there is still some time for them to fix it, but as it stands right now the council is more focused on being nice to one another in the media. Duran even going so far as to talk about having a policy that has some "teeth". The issue is that there is a bid to create a media policy that essentially uses the mayor's office as the flow of information to the public. There are several problems with that, chief amongst them being the 1st amendment. But there are some other issues like the fact that under the Socorro charter, the mayor is not only a weak mayor, but thanks to the Gandaras wanting a death grip on power, the mayor is even weaker than in other models. The city has 4 single member districts and one at-large seat, meaning there are 5 voting members. So when the mayor only votes in the event of a tie, there simply aren't that many opportunities for the mayor to even vote.

The members of council aren't subordinate to the mayor, they all serve at the pleasure of the voters of Socorro. So each of them has a right - a responsibility - to keep their constituents informed through mass communications. Socorro shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it was a member of council that regularly spoke to the media and ultimately the authorities, during the dark days of the Gandaras. Had then-City Rep Maria Reyes not spoken out, the Gandaras might still be in office.

So Socorro City Council should keep all of this in mind while they are developing their media policy.

El Paso's Thin-Skinned Trump-a-like Dandy

Max Grossman is about the most entertaining thing in El Paso politics this side of the rumor of David Saucedo running for the Texas legislature against Lina Ortega. Yeah, that is actually going around - I've heard it from three different places and as much as I'd love for that guy to run for something again for sheer entertainment value, I doubt he actually does it. He's not a Democrat and no one would buy it if he tried to switch parties. And he can't win as a Republican - though he can't win as a Democrat either.

Anyhow, back to Max Grossman. He has become El Paso's version of Donald Trump and he wallows in it. Think about it, he's loud, obnoxious, rude, arrogant as all hell, can't stand not being the center of attention, and has a very casual relationship with the truth. Seriously all he's missing is a porn star beefing with him and a Twitter account.

But he makes up for the lack of a Twitter account for his middle-of-the-night rants in crazy town with his emails.

He recently sent one that is completely divorced from - of all things - history.

Which completely undermines a guy who is allegedly some guardian of history when he can't even get recently history right about his own life.

Check out this recent email where he goes on a rant about the fact that Dr. Rick Bonart was dismissed from a city commission recently. I don't know why the mayor dismissed him, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was related to the fact that Bonart is running for office. Or maybe its because he retained a lawyer in a matter relating to the city. I'm not sure what it was exactly, but the email Trump-a-like sent out was in reference to Bonart no longer being on a city commission.

The nonsensical Trumplike tirade is all over the place, drawing a nonsensical comparison between the removal of Sylvia Firth and the removal of Bonart from a commission. Anyone who knows city hall knows that Cassandra Brown really pushed the ouster of Firth more than anyone else. Don't get me wrong, I love when Grossman goes after the mayor, I'm a Democrat so I love me some Republican on Republican crime. Its like watching Saucedo go after Margo all over again, no matter who loses, I win.

No Laughing Matter

Okay, fun time is over. This email is actually something that is quite serious. I've long held the believe that Grossman is yet another in a line of bad actors on El Paso's political scene that is going to use money and influence for his own personal benefit. at the end of the aforementioned email, which I highlighted in yellow, he makes an absurd claim. He alleges he was removed from the El Paso County Historical Commission because of his opposition to the arena.

That is factually inaccurate. Or as us regular folks would say, he's lying.

Grossman's and Sargent's and terms on the commission were up. As he admits in the email, they had been there for over 25 years combined. It was time for some new blood. But lets not also forget another huge elephant in the room, pun intended because Grossman is a Republican.

Grossman and Sargent were under a cloud of controversy because they had sent out an electronic message trying to conduct commission business that was outside the parameters of the Texas Open Meetings Act, and the Court had instructed them to refrain from holding meetings until they were trained up on you know, how not to violate the law.

So the controversy magnets gave the Commissioners, which is was all of them not just the two he singled out in the email, that booted Grossman and Sargent.

Grossman's letter is a flat-out lie about the reason he was removed from that commission. Don't believe me? Well unlike Grossman, I offer proof. Read this, this, or this.

That is just one example of Grossman's very casual relationship with the truth, which is one of the many reasons I don't trust him or any of the candidates he's using to try to buy city council. And make no mistake about it that is exactly what Grossman is trying to do. He couldn't get a council that would bend to his will, so he figures he can just go buy one.

Hell Grossman even got caught lying about the result of the vote taken unlawfully by email when he said it was a unanimous vote by members of the Historical Commission to oppose the arena site. It wasn't.

After the ouster of Grossman and Sargent, revelations about some accounts the commission maintained that had not been reported to the county auditor's office surfaced. As a result of this revelation the county reorganized several policies related to commissions. Grossman also left that little tidbit out of his letter rather conveniently.

Grossman always loses his cool whenever he is critiqued and he recently sent a message that said, "If you stop lying about me, I'll stop telling the truth about you". I laughed at the plagiarism. But I also laughed at Trump-a-like having the nerve to challenge anyone on "the truth".

So Grossman should stop making himself out to be a martyr on the historical commission and tell the truth about why he was dismissed.

Yes Trump-a-like, the truth indeed.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Grossman Attacks Beto O'Rourke

El Paso's big time conservative dandy Max Grossman has taken on Beto O'Rourke in his latest email tantrum. Grossman, a Trump supporter since he was a candidate, has often used monolingual Spanish speaking seniors as a media prop but hasn't ever been critical of the administration's attacks on the immigrant community or efforts to separate families. So his on-going effort to put on brown face for the purposes of his personal gain has demonstrated the level of hypocrisy Grossman is capable of.

But his email also shows another level of hypocrisy that I'll get to in just a moment.

First, take a look at how he attacks Beto O'Rourke, who is currently taking on another conservative - Senator Ted Cruz.

At a time when most everyone is getting behind O'Rourke because he represents the first chance at a Democrat unseating a statewide Republican, Grossman attacks one of O'Rourke's major policy initiatives when he was a member of city council.

Here's the email:

Now the hypocrisy here is that while out of one side of his mouth, the Dandy is throwing an absolute tantrum about the city's financial situation. He's done so in several of his emails, so its a reoccurring theme. The irony is that he is personally responsible for the fact that the tax payers of El Paso, you and I, are footing the bill to fight the lawsuits they have initiated against the city of El Paso.

So he cares about the debt El Pasoans have to bear - except when that debt provides a personal benefit to him.

Then he doesn't care about that debt.

And that ladies and gentlemen shows you the level of hypocrisy in which the Dandy dabbles.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

O'Rourke / Hurd Lame Award

Congressmen Beto O'Rourke and Will Hurd were awarded for being politically civil with one another.

There was a time, certainly before the Trump era, that this was common place. But thanks to Trump, we now award people with lame accolades for stuff that should be common place.

Don't get me wrong, I'm voting for Beto and support him 100%, its just a sad commentary on our political system that this lame award is actually a thing.

This award's lameness is so high I half expected it to be an award given out by Eliot Shapleigh.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Municipal Races: District 1

This is the first in a series of posts about the upcoming municipal races. 

City Representative Peter Svarzbein is up for re-election. He's the most-vulnerable of the incumbent city representatives up for reelection and its very difficult to see how he keeps his seat.

Svarzbein has a major image problem. First, people are going to rightly wonder What has Svarzbein done?

Now what most people care about is stuff like potholes, stop signs, parks, etc. Svarzbein had a major staffing problem for a large part of his term in office. His staffer, who is no longer with his office and rumor has it is now working in some sort of capacity with a potential rival candidate, probably didn't keep track of what was done. For the life of me, I don't understand why he even hired that guy in the first place with absolutely no real relevant staffing experience but that is water under the bridge.

The only thing I can think of Svarzbein marketing is the trolley, but that is problematic for him. First, I think the project was actually something spearheaded by Steve Ortega and second, its not a super popular project. Its got a huge price tag on it and a lot of the older don't-raise-my-taxes-you-kids-get-off-my-grass voters won't be supportive of it.

So Svarzbein has to run like he has a huge target on his back, because well, he does. There are at least three candidates running against him this time, most of which have a pretty good shot at being the next city representative - better shots than Svarzbein does.

Svarzbein isn't going to be able to raise anywhere close to the $90,000 he raised in the last election. And trust me, Svarzbein earned that win last time. That was the race were Forma Group was behind him, and then "had their strings pulled" and ditched him in favor of another candidate. So Forma screwed him before, he'd have to be really stupid to use them again and it would probably end up being a news story if he did.

Word on the street is Svarzbein has $30,000 sitting in the bank for this campaign. He better make that stretch because I'll bet that is going to be about 3/4 of what he raises for this campaign.

But Svarzbein is an incumbent now. He's got a record that can be scrutinized now. Showing up late to events looking like you just rolled out of bed worked when you were a plucky little campaign of an artist trying to overcome the odds and get a spot on city council isn't going to work in a reelection campaign.

Lets look at the rest of the field.

Richard Bonart, a prominent dentist in the area, ran last time and the buzz is that he has $20k ready to dump into the race. But Bonart is going to be Max Grossman's candidate. So Grossman will likely get his sugar daddy from Houston to dump some more money into Bonart. Grossman is out to buy himself a city council and so he's going to make sure his slate of candidates are going to be well-funded. Grossman's biggest problem is his mouth. He loves the spotlight and he is going to be a boat anchor around the neck of every candidate he runs. If Bonart is smart, he'll get the money and shut Grossman up.

Remember Grossman is a HUGE Trump guy and after all the anti-immigrant stuff the administration has done, Grossman is going to be an even bigger lightening rod than he was before.

Carlos Corral is another guy that is running against Svarzbein. He's another film guy, which is what Svarzbein was known as when he started to kick around the idea of running for office, so pardon the pun but we've seen this movie before. I think he's done some political commercials for candidates and he does something with the El Paso Film Festival or Plaza Theater or something like that. Honestly I don't know much about him so I have no idea if he actually knows anything about policy or if he's running because he thinks it would be cool to be a city representative. In this day an age with my email and phone number out there if he hasn't figured out how to send me info about his candidacy then that is a little strange. But who knows, maybe he'll read this and send me some info about him. Without any info, I can't really give you much analysis about him yet - but at the very least Svarzbein won't be the only candidate with a slick presentation with video and other campaign material. The question is how much Corral is going to rely on that medium.

He had a campaign announcement event last week but I haven't heard much about what kind of turnout he had. No idea what kind of money he is dealign with but not having Grossman to weigh him down and a slick presentation (I'm assuming he will have one given his professional work) means he's gonna be someone that should concern the incumbent.

Veronica Frescas is another name that is floating around as a candidate and it looks she's going to be making a formal announcement soon. Frankly, she's the one that should be keeping Svarzbein up at night - if she can get campaign funding. Latina, educated, REALLY smart and an actual track record, she's probably the most formidable candidate as of today in terms of being prepared to take office. She's worked for a ton of non-profits - C.A.S.A., United Way, El Paso Border Children's Mental Health Collaborative, the Empowerment Zone, US Mexico Border Health Commission, GEPAR (governmental affairs director) and a host of other things I can't recall at the moment. She was almost always the public relations director for those entities. That means she knows how to frame a message for media. She's another one that will have a well-packaged presentation. More importantly she's worked on a ton of campaigns. If she gets a handle on field operations and a little cash, she's probably the best positioned to defeat Svarzbein.

The Wild Card. I don't now if its still an option, but there was a lot of talk of Kathleen Stout running for the seat. Dr. Stout would be a very strong opponent. Super likable, well known, probably very little problem getting funding, street cred, etc. But I've heard that she's not considering a run anymore.

Svarzbein's Advantage - A lot of things that people on the westside are upset about, aren't his fault - namely traffic. The westside is the worst place in town to try to get around lately. Its a big flustercuck. But those are TxDOT problems. Svarzbein can overcome that. Most of Svarzbein's problems can be overcome with dressing like an adult who takes his job seriously instead of showing up to meetings wearing sneakers. Although I'll be honest, Svarzbein has really great taste in sneakers. His shoe game is strong.

His biggest advantage is field work. He won because of field work last time. He's the only candidate that has the ability to leverage a strong field operation, today. Everyone else will have to play catch-up or learn on the fly unless they hire someone who knows field, but most of the talent out there is tied up in other campaigns already, thereby multiplying Svarzbein's field advantage.

This will be the most hotly contested race in the city. D8, the other westside seat, also has the potential to get interesting, but not as competitive as D1. This will be the race to watch.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Things That Annoy Me: The Cassandra Hernandez-Brown Edition

If you've read my blog for any length of time you know that hypocrisy is one the many things that gets on my last nerve.

Especially with leaders and ideology.

So here is what annoys me about Cassandra Hernandez-Brown and Annie's List.

Annie's List is an organization that is dedicated to electing women leaders. They put a lot of money and resources behind women candidates. They very frequently conduct training sessions for future candidates and donate funds to their candidates.

Annie's List held one such training recently. As you can see, they tout City Rep Hernandez-Brown in this tweet:

So one would assume that such a candidate, when ascending to office, would be inclined to ya know, support other women leaders.

In the case of District 3 City Rep Cassandra Hernandez-Brown, you'd be wrong.

Remember a while back when the fact that a city with the civil rights record El Paso has still has a street named after Robert E. Lee came to light, there was an opportunity to change the name of the street.

I, at the behest of several Chicano leaders, approached Representative Hernandez-Brown to ask her to consider changing the name of the street from a traitor like Robert E. Lee, to a Chicana civil rights and labor leader, Dolores Huerta.

Well, Brown was never down for the brown on this one.

She was at no point, ever supportive of changing the street name to Dolores Huerta. Now the change would have meant a lot because it would have been changing the street name from a name we should collectively be ashamed even exists in El Paso, to the name of a civil rights leader and the first major Latina leader in the country.

It would have been a fairly easy thing to do. Normally when you change the name of a street its a big hassle because you have to get all the property owners on the street to agree to the name change and it costs a fair amount of money to change your address on all your accounts, ID's, records, stationary, advertising, etc.

But in the case of Robert E. Lee, there was only one address that actually fronted the road. It was a business. Track One Restaurant.

So three guesses who Hernandez-Brown sided with.

The fellow Chicana?

A fellow woman?

A fellow sister in the struggle?

Uh, negative Ghostider.

From the start, Brown was 100% in support of changing the name to what the business owner wanted the name changed to... Track One Road. (Could've been street, drive, blvd, etc I don't recall exactly).

It annoys me that she's touted as a "champion" when she sided with a business interest when given the opportunity to promote a woman who paved the way for Hernandez-Brown.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sad Socorro Saga Part 1

Socorro has been synonymous with corruption for decades, mostly because of the Gandara Clan and people like Dora Oaxaca that put them and kept them in office. Long after the Willies went to jail and Little Jessie Gandara was booted out, that shadow of corruption still haunts that city.

The latest controversy at the City of Socorro involves a new crop of names, but the story is still the same. Its about power and envy.

So here is the latest episode of the telenovela that is Socorro.

The City Manager position in Socorro has always been a lightening rod for some reason. The most controversial figure has been Lorenza Fraire, who apparently was so problematic that even the Gandara's thought she was bad for the city's image and they got rid of her.

I've written about her exploits many times, so use the search feature on the right if you want to go back and get more details but the short of it is that she has been wanting her job back as city manager now for the better part of a DECADE. So she lurks in parking lots and tries to drop information to anyone she can that she thinks will listen to her. Every election cycle she attaches herself to a candidate like a barnacle in an effort to get a majority on council so that she can get back on as the city manager.

Thats her quest.

So awhile back the son of the current city manger was pulled over in a Socorro traffic stop. Fraire saw her opportunity to pounce and so she is the one who leaked the story to the media that the city manager's son was in a traffic stop and implied that the city manager abused her authority to help her son in an effort to smear the city manager right around the time of her contract renewal.

But how did Fraire get tipped off about the stop and get a hold of the video and other info she dropped to the media?

Someone on the inside helped her out with that.

Someone with either a vendetta against the city manager or a compelling reason to get rid of the city manager.

Enter the "investigation" that was recently completed. Socorro Mayor Elia Garcia held a press event yesterday to discuss the findings of the report, though it wasn't released to the public. First, you have to be really concerned in Socorro if there is an "investigation" but the findings aren't made public.

The Mayor was asked about the report and if specific names of current members of council appeared in the report. A city employee acting in the capacity as a spokesman for the city intervened before the mayor could dodge the question herself and indicated that they couldn't release that information because it was a personnel matter.

That ladies and gentlemen is absolute horse shit.

If it involves elected officials, its not a personnel matter. The public has rights to ensure transparency and arguing that its a personnel matter when it involves an elected official is just another way to hide the truth from the public.

The mayor has instituted a new policy that all media is supposed to go through her office now. That should send up major red flags in Socorro anytime someone wants to control the flow of public information in Socorro.

Aside from that, I don't know where she thinks she even has the authority to do so. The members of council serve at the pleasure of the electorate and are NOT subordinate to the mayor's office. Hell, the mayor can't even vote unless there is a tie and there are an odd number of voting reps, so she's essentially powerless.

Stay tuned because there is MUCH more on this issue...