Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sierra Connection Big Problem for Leaders

If you know Sierra then you know how much it bothers him that everyone is scrambling to distance themselves from him after his public bragging about electing County Judge-Elect Ricardo Samaniego.

Actually what probably bothers him more is that Samaniego contradicted the substance of what Sierra said about Escobar and went out of his way to make sure everyone knew he had no beef with Escobar.

Seriously Sierra gets denied more times than Peter denied Jesus. He's not even like a sancho a girl doesn't want her vato to find out about, he's more like a case of herpes that she denies ever having but it just won't go away.

Had the public known about Sierra's interaction with the Samaniego campaign, they never would have elected Samaniego. That is a fundamental point to understand given the razor-thin margin of victory for Samaniego. Think about it, the turnout was super-low and Sierra's involvement would've pushed people that only voted in the congressional race to go back out and vote again because they hate Sierra that much.

He absolutely hates how quickly he was dumped aside.

But nonetheless, the County Judge-Elect goes into office with this hanging over his head now.

However the impact is more widespread. According to this article in the El Paso Times, Sierra's connection to the campaign is actually something we've heard before - one of Sheriff Wiles' staffers, Chris Acosta.

Acosta has had a longstanding political relationship with Sierra going back to Oscar Leeser's election for mayor. Obviously its extremely problematic for the Sheriff to have a senior staffer doing so much political work because well, elections have consequences. Understandably word around the Democratic Party was that Wiles had a conversation with her and told her to ease up on the campaign work.

But the real question is why would she think it was smart to ever roll the dice and associate the Sheriff with Carlos Sierra, through their respective association with Acosta. Ironically Acosta is on the panel that picks people for induction into the El Paso County Democratic Party Hall of Fame, despite her willingness to open doors for a Republican operative. It just seems not worth the risk to the Sheriff for someone who hasn't won a race in a really long time.

Which brings us back to Sierra's involvement with Samaniego's race.

Bottom line here is that someone is lying. Its either Samaniego and his team, or Carlos Sierra. Either Samaniego's team is deliberately downplaying the role Sierra actually had in the campaign, or what he said was true when he bragged on Facebook when he took credit for the win.

Frankly, I think Samaneigo is probably telling what is the closest to the truth but the whole thing is suspect. Sierra was originally working with Leo Marketing until there was a falling out and Leo Marketing sent Sierra packing.

Samaniego knew Sierra's his involvement in his campaign was problematic and let him go back then. Then in the run-off when the stakes are highest someone decides to bring Sierra back in?

And Samaniego changes his story to the media. At first he denied Sierra's involvement, then admitted that he had at least a limited role with a campaign.

Changing your story to the media is not a good way to start off your terms as County Judge.

But why change your story?

Well he either just lied and thought better of it, or he didn't know.

Its possible that Acosta kept Sierra's involvement hidden from Samaniego (maybe), which makes Sierra's public pissing on the political tree even more funny.

There's a couple of other things that don't make sense about Samaniego's story about Sierra. First, Sierra usually uses Nation Builder for his data management. Samaniego said that Sierra made lists for the campaign using Voter Activation Network, or VAN.

VAN is proprietary software for the Democratic Party. If you are a Republican using VAN and the TDP finds out about it, you get your access revoked. Ask Chris Hernandez, he's been through that once before. But its also possible that Sierra was just using someone else's access, which is a no-no but hard to prove.

The point is, the more you look at this, the dirtier it starts to look.

Municipal Elections, Max Grossman & Carlos Sierra

If you read Max Grossman's periodic musings he sends via email, which sound more to me like a manifesto written by some weirdo who lives in a small secluded cabin "off the grid", then you know that Max Grossman is now trying to elect himself some elected officials.

He uses some Houston billionaire to bankroll the little op and it looks like he will considering he already kicked in like $15K for the county judge's race. Just read finance reports, the proof is easily found.

So who does the Republican Max Grossman team up with? Well if attendance at a candidate's kick-off event for District 8's city council race, it appears to be another infamous Republican, Carlos Sierra.

Expect Grossman, Sierra, and probably at least one other political wanna-be to start fielding a slate of candidates. I've heard rumblings of them wanting to set up meetings with potential candidates so that they can identify who they are going to support.

The problem is, they have a messaging problem. The minute Sierra's involvement is known, *poof* they have big problem on their hands.

The bottom line is the douchiest possible pairing of political personalities are going to use an out-of-town billionaire to try to take over local politics. Special interest money is gonna be all over the place in this cycle.

This is probably one of the best arguments to move toward partisan city elections.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

SISD Trustees Vote Against Teachers

Four trustees at the Socorro Independent School District voted against teachers in a recent meeting of the SISD Board of Trustees.

The four trustees voted against a measure that would provide teachers with a small 3% raise and a $1,500 bonus. The trustees that voted against teachers are Board President Cynthia Ann Najera (District 2), Hector Gonzalez (District 1), Angelica Rodriguez (District 3) and Tony Ayub (At-Large).

It is beyond believe that with charter schools opening within the boundaries of their district that they would not do anything they could to make sure that they continue to provide their students with the best possible teachers.

A couple of these trustees are actually Republicans. And I don't mean just regular run-of-the-mill Republicans, I mean Fox-News-Dismantle-Public-Education-Republicans.

But since they are Republicans, lets explain it in a way that they can understand. This is a matter of being competitive in a market. Charter schools opening means that SISD will now have to compete for students, since public education is funded by how many bodies you have in your school.

So they are going to lose students. The way they keep students is by having better facilities and better teachers.

Like it or not trustees, the voters have spoken and they want better facilities for SISD. That is why they passed the bond.

They invested in the district.

Several of you are up for re-election, the community will have a chance to hold you accountable for your choices.

Monday, May 28, 2018

El Paso & the Trump Separation Policy

So Trump is now separating families when they are apprehended during their migration. We also now know that the feds have lost a lot of kids somewhere in the system. I've seen the outrage from my fellow liberals all over social media this weekend.

Thats the work of your party of family values people.

Here's my question for all of you good Democrats out there that want comprehensive immigration reform.

Are you still okay with the fact that we are housing more undocumented immigrants in our downtown jail (at a loss to taxpayers) than any other community in Texas? Because you can't really be all outraged about what Trump is doing when you support a jail contract that has a major local impact of this new national policy.

How do you all feel about that jail contract now that it has the impact of separating families? Remember when so many of you bought that line that people were going to be shipped far away, God knows where, and be away from their families?

Well...the Otero facility is only 6, count them 6, miles from El Paso city limits. Hardly a long way away.

We expanded the jail system at a significant cost to El Paso taxpayers - way more than that ballpark or downtown arena that Max Grossman allegedly cares about. Your tax dollars was spent to expand our ability to house more undocumented immigrants for the federal government than any other community in Texas.

And that makes us the number one separator of families in Texas.

Still feel good about supporting that jail contract?

Still think its the moral thing to do? How long do you think you can walk the tight rope of being outraged at Trump but being completely okay with the jail contract?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sierra Tries to Regain Credibility through Samaniego

Richard Samaniego won a razor thin victory in the County Judge race on Tuesday night.

Apparently Carlos Sierra was running his campaign from the shadows, which is a bit of a surprise that Samaniego would be so willing to risk affiliation with Sierra coming to light during his campaign.

You don't have to take my word for it, read Sierra's own words for yourself.

That must be why Sierra is not on his campaign finance report. So either Sierra worked for free, or there's a big problem for Samaniego on his finance report.

Had the public gotten wind of the fact that Sierra was running his campaign, he would have lost. Which again goes to the whole problem Sierra has with running campaigns in El Paso. He's got such a bad reputation for dirty pool that the minute he's tied to a campaign, its the kiss of death.

By Sierra's own admission, he's been running the campaign for two months, so at the very least there should have been an in-kind contribution reported by Samaniego.

I doubt that Samaniego is going to be happy about this information coming out, but Sierra has to do something to try to salvage his reputation after his string of humiliating loses. Sierra was behind a few other races and they all lost but he has to spike the ball in hopes that someone will want to hire him.

Its now a political problem for Samaniego to be tied to Sierra and he will likely have to spend a long time fixing that now that Sierra publicly declared he was behind the win.

Interestingly Mayor Cook asked why Samaniego suddenly went negative.

Well, there's your answer.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Dori Demands Deletion

File this under the most Dori thing you’ve ever heard.

A source in the Democratic Party says that a campaign was contacted by an employee of Dori Fenenbock asking, on behalf of Dori and her husband, to be removed from mailing lists of the Democratic Party.

Yup, you read that correctly. I guess they are going back to the GOP, but for all you people that spoke about how genuine Dori’s conversion to the Democratic Party was, well she wants out.

You better believe if she was still in the runoff she wouldn’t want anyone to be off of a mailing list!

Truth be told, the only way she’d get mail from Democratic candidates is if they mailed to people who voted in the last primary because she doesn’t have enough Democratic voting history to be considered a reliable Democrat.

Because she’s not. And she never was.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Real Max Grossman

Ay raza...

You realize you're following someone who in the opinion of many, doesn't really care about you, right?

Since the days of the whole arena discussion Max Grossman has done everything he can to put on brown face and give you all the opinion he cares about little ol' brown ladies that live in the arena footprint.

Understand that Grossman cares only about one thing, buildings. I don't think for one second that he really cares about the people living in them, and certainly doesn't care about the conditions they are living in either.

But the guy won't hesitate to put an elder who is monolingual Spanish-speaking in front of a microphone if it helps his position. And you vatos stand there and watch it.

Well mark my words, the minute Grossman sees the door open to protect his buildings, he's going to and then pull a Donald Trump and tell everyone how great the deal is.

Yeah, thats a real picture of Grossman by the way. I know, he looks like a Scooby-Doo villain, a human version of Mr. Peanut, the Monopoly guy, a circus ring leader, an old-timey politician who tied some damsel to railroad tracks or something else weird. But I'm guessing he was giving some tour or something.

But for those of you that are heaping praise on the guy, not matter how much he plays brown face or dress-up, you should know who he really is.

A straight-up Republican.

As if if Facebook rants aren't clear enough (he's super pro-Trump in case all you fist-in-the-air Chicanos weren't aware of the fact that he supports everything you fight against), or his email tirades about taxes don't paint a vivid enough picture, take a look at his voting record if you don't believe me.

Solid Republican.

Thats the real Max Grossman.

County Judge Race

It really doesn't matter who you vote for in this race because neither candidate will really represent any substantive change to Commissioner's Court.

Both candidates have their positives, both have their negatives.

Neither have a compelling message. Two really boring guys with no demonstrable policy differences.

And maybe that is not a bad thing. You have enough drama going on at city council with Heir Margo and this mess with the city attorney.

Commissioner's Court is basically drama-free, other than when Ambassador Stout is trying to sneak another Doo-ruhn-gui-toe item on the agenda for Max Grossman.

My biggest critique of both candidates is that they don't have a deep understanding of the machinations of county government and they don't seem to be in a hurry to get up to speed.

The County Judge isn't the Mayor of the County. They are another Commissioner just like the rest. Which means they vote on every issue. There's a County Administrator but its not analogous to a City Manager.

Department heads don't answer to the County Administrator. Well most of them don't I should say. Most of the department heads are elected officials and therefore budge season at the County is an especially large pain in the ass. If a department doesn't like their budget, they will just sue the County. Hell, if a department head like Norma Favela doesn't think she got a big enough raise, they can grieve it and get an even fatter raise.

Which is what she did.

Seriously, that is a glorified department head. You think commissioners are over paid? You should see what the two clerk electeds make.

There is tremendous need in the unincorporated areas but most of the tax base lives in incorporated areas. So people in incorporated areas bitch about their taxes going to people who live in unincorporated areas, then you have people in unincorporated areas bitching about how they don't get any services.

I'm looking at you Fabens. (I'll get to that special child in just a moment).

Then you have to run the justice system, public safety, public works, etc. But of those three, each of them are headed by an elected official, except public works.

Of course there's the battle of "mandated services" versus the needs of the community. The easiest answer is to say you're only going to focus on mandated services. But what do you do when you have constituents calling about parks, clean running water, waste water services, gas, and a range of other issues.

Thats not even mentioning the fact that the County basically is the weakest form of government in the state, by design. You don't have ordnance making authority, so someone can build a mansion in the unincorporated areas and next door someone can weld a couple of trailers together and have all the farm animals they want. And guess who they call to complain about one another?

Its like running a city only with more people, more area, less deputies to patrol, and almost no money to pay for things like street improvements and sidewalks, - oh, almost forgot, almost no authority to really do anything.

And then theres Fabens. Ah yes, good ol' Fabens. Talk to anyone who is from Fabens, but doesn't live there anymore and they look back on it very fondly. Talk to people who live in Fabens and you'd think there were the most miserable lot of people who ever lived. I've never seen a community love and hate itself at the same time as much as Fabens.

I single out Fabens because, well they complain a lot. But they are now the largest unincorporated community in the County. Now, to hear someone from Fabens tell it, they live in a crime-infested war-torn destitute post apocalyptic every-man-for-himself community forgotten by all of mankind.

They can be a bit dramatic.

The reality is that Fabens has it really good, despite the sad song they sing to basically anyone who will listen. The white Republican farmers that run the town, and trust me, the do - think they pay too much in taxes and don't get enough in return. The reality is that they get a shit ton of agricultural exemptions and pay way less than they'd have you believe and frankly, Fabens has it better than any other unincorporated community by any measure.

Most jobs in an unincorporated community? Fabens.

Most roads paved in an unincorporated community? Fabens.

Most parks in an unincorporated community? Fabens.

Running water? Check

Decent schools? Check

Traffic control? Check

Regular sheriff patrols? Check

Seriously, Fabens has it way better than the rest of the unincorporated communities and is comparable to at least Clint and San Elizario. Fabens wants all the services of city life, but doesn't want to pay for them.

Hell, Fabens' TWO parks have AMENITIES!

Do you know what passes for a park in Tornillo? A patch of dirt occasionally graded by Road and Bridge with a back stop and a couple benches. And BOTH Fabens parks have GRASS!

I know that seems like no big deal, but when Ascarate Park, which is deep in the city of El Paso sucks up all the damn parks budget every year, grass is a big luxury. But to hear people in Fabens tell it, they have nothing despite the fact that their neighboring unincorporated communities don't even have amenities as nice as dog parks in El Paso.

So whether its Mayor Cook or Samaniego that ultimately wins, they are going to be in for a bit of a rude awakening when they realize just how complicated county government can be.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

County Court at Law #5

This is a no-brainer so the post will be short. This new court is going to be a family court. Judge Jesus Rodriguez is in the run-off against Kristen Romero.

Judge Jesus Rodriguez has been a family law judge for the last decade or more.

There is nothing bad to say about Ms. Romero. She is a smart and I'm told a talented attorney, but she doesn't have anywhere near the experience of Judge Rodriguez. She's a Captain in the JAG Corps in the Army, but they do very little family law and don't represent soldiers in family law matters in court. Therefore, there's an ocean of difference in terms of experience.

Rodriguez has a decade of experience on the bench under his belt. There's no learning curve there. He's head and shoulders above Romero in terms of experience. There is a stark difference between the candidates and this is an easiest choice, Rodriguez should be elected.

End of post.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Urenda Busted in a Lie?

Jesus Urenda, who is in a run-off election to save his JP seat on the Eastside appears to be lying about a key accomplishment he's been hanging his hat on.

As you can see in this screenshot from a campaign video he recently released, Urenda is stubbornly claiming a win on a reduction in truancy cases despite the fact that his opponent Rebeca Bustamante repeatedly calls him out on it.

To be clear, there has been a drastic reduction in truancy in his court over the last four years. But there has been a drastic reduction in EVERY JP court across the state of Texas over that time period because the Texas Legislature changed the law.

The law was changed by the 84th Legislature about 4 years ago, resulting in an overall reduction across the state of Texas, not just El Paso. The total number of truancy cases filed in Texas was 20,555 in school year 2015-2016.

Significantly reduced from 88,576 the previous school year.

If you wanna see the facts for yourself, the stats I'm citing come from a report in 2017 from the Legislative Budget Board titled Overview of the Effects of Changes to Texas Truancy Laws.

Click here to read the entire report.

So it was the Texas Legislature that reduced truancy, Jesus Urenda had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Now I can't tell you why Urenda is stubbornly sticking to the claim that he reduced truancy when he very clearly hasn't. But you can't go around saying you did something that you very clearly didn't and not expect to get called out on it.

Sources in the county justice system indicate that Urenda didn't even hear truancy cases the first year he was in office because they didn't know how to deal with them.

But documents released by his opponent Rebeca Bustamante indicate that Urenda has a hard time substantiating the claim that he has reduced truancy. Bustamante apparently did an open records request that came back yesterday. She requested "...statistics of Truancy referrals to the Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 from 2014 to present."

The letter from SISD indicated " records of the information requested were found..."

According to officials at Ysleta Independent School District there were ZERO cases referred to JP courts last year for truancy.

So the official word from the only two school districts in his precinct is that they haven't sent truancy cases to his court.

That begs the question, if they sent no cases to his court, how can his claims of reducing truancy be even remotely seen as true?


They aren't.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Trump's Latest Actions are Anti-Veteran & Unpatriotic

The hypocrisy of the right has been mind-blowing since President Trump took the oath when they blindly started supporting something that was an obvious and out-right lie, the size of his inauguration crowd.

But for many years the Republicans have pretended to have cornered the market on patriotism. It has been their calling card for many years. But those folks, much like evangelicals, have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to supporting this administration.

President Trump while he was a candidate attacked John McCain, a former POW.

Now look, I agree with very little when it comes to John McCain and policy. He's a Republican and I'm a Democrat. But regardless of his political affiliation, McCain is an American patriot. He was tortured at the hands of the Vietnamese for years as a POW. He refused to be released earlier than his compatriots. That alone, the willingness to endure captivity longer despite having the ability to leave, is the stuff that embodies selfless service.

Seriously, those guys made an American flag out of scraps of material, hid it from their captors and recited the pledge of allegiance at night. Regardless of our differences in policy, that is heroic and something we should all aspire to.

That is why it boggles the mind that Republicans have not only looked the other way, but are defending the Administration following remarks from a low-level staffer about Senator McCain's health.

In this country even dogs are afforded a certain level of empathy when they are suffering. We all look at people who can't show empathy toward a suffering animal with disdain. And yet this administration shows disdain towards not only a human being, but an American patriot.

Kelley Sadler still has a job and that is unconscionable.

The fact that the President of the United States hasn't fired her is unconscionable.

The fact that the right in this country hasn't pressured the President to fire her is unconscionable.

And the fact that the right is now actually defending the President for all of this is embarrassing.

You can't say you support our troops and sanction the actions of this administration.

But lets be honest about WHY the right is okay with Trump and his administration's views toward McCain.

It is precisely because it is said about John McCain.

The GOP does a lot of clucking while they are in the minority about bipartisanship. But when they are in the majority, bipartisanship is disdained.

McCain is the real deal, he really is "Country First".

Members of the GOP that show ANY type of bipartisanship are instantly vilified. Does John McCain's sacrifice and service to this country mean nothing to you people? The man can't raise his arms level because of the torture he endured for this country but you guys mock him?

What happened to the days when your party used to talk about how much character counts? Where is your patriotism? Where is your sense of dignity?

I'll tell you the minute the crazies on the right hi-jacked the Republican Party. It was October 10, 2008 at a town hall.

This is the moment that you can witness the last gasp of decency from the GOP. McCain had the courage to look at woman who was obviously an ignorant Fox News fed extremist, and one of his supporters, in the eye and tell her the truth.

And that was the end of his support in the GOP. That is when his own party turned on him.

Because he had the courage of his convictions.

I'm a Democrat and have no fondness toward the policy positions of my Republican friends. But even I can acknowledge that there was a time when character and patriotism used to mean something to the GOP.

Those days are gone, and its sad to see in the GOP.

JP Run-offs

Okay a quick rundown of elections happening next Tuesday is what I'll be posting about this week along with some other stuff. Lets get started with the JP races that are in a run-off. JP courts hear mostly traffic tickets, small claims, and other low-level matters. They are in need of reform. They are inefficient, there's a lot of waste of tax payer money, and they line their pockets doing weddings that they perform in their court, but keep the cash for themselves.

A news station could probably win a lot of Texas Emmy's doing stories on the JP courts. Hell, their travel alone is the kind of stuff that infuriates tax payers. Judge Haggerty over in the NE took is staff on a cruise last year, at least partially paid for by you the tax payer. Completely indignant about it too.  A whole court shut down for a week, no business done, because they were boozin' and cruisin' on a boat somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

And Haggerty isn't even the worst offender of travel. Judge John Chatman in JP5 is by far, the absolute biggest traveler on the public dime. Seriously, he's the undisputed champ. Why Commissioner's haven't reigned the JPs in is beyond me, but they should have a long time ago. In FY2016 there were a total of 20 trips taken by the Justices of the Peace. Now to be clear, there is some required travel for JP's to keep their positions. One per year actually. But of the total of 20 trips that were taken that FY, John Chatman took an astonishing 12 of those 20 total trips. The next closest JP took 2 trips.

They make $80K+ per year and make THOUSANDS of dollars doing weddings ever year and we are still paying for their travel?

Weddings are performed by JPs, who only have the authority to do so in the first place because of the fact that they are judges, and instead of that money going back to you the tax payer to offset costs, it stays in their pockets. Here's the dirty little secret about it:

They don't report the funds to commissioner's court.

They don't report the money to the public.

There is ZERO public oversight of those funds.

Its not illegal, but the JP's keep the money they make from doing weddings. Perfectly legal within the law. But it isn't right. Any of them could provide a public report as to how much they make doing weddings. They could created a report showing how much time of the day is spent during normal court hours performing weddings. Any one of them could use those funds to offset costs to tax payers. Any of them could tell commissioners that they don't need additional funds each year.

But they don't. Not one of them. And there is nothing preventing them from doing so, other than greed.

And trust me, that needs to get fixed. Very seldom are weddings even on a judge's calendar. Witnesses have seen judges halt court proceedings to go perform a wedding, and then go back to court business. I know of at least one JP that keeps a separate calendar for weddings in case someone open record requests his official calendar.

Like I said, there are some MAJOR reforms that are needed in the JP courts.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 3

JP 3 involves Josh Herrera and Patricia Juarez Estrada. PJE got an endorsement from Dolores Lucas, one of the other candidates that ran but didn't make the run-off. Herrera is gonna win that race, as he should, but incredibly PJE actually wrote a Facebook post about how there shouldn't be any attorneys in "the people's court".

That is absolute bullshit. If you have a court, their primary function is to interpret the law. The only reason you aren't required to be an attorney to be a JP is because the intent of the Texas framers was to ensure all areas had a JP and in rural areas, lawyers are harder to come by. But any time you have a court that is presided by someone with no legal experience, it is inherently going to be a higher cost to tax payers because they are going to have more cases appealed. PJE made the argument that since Josh Herrera is an attorney he should run for one of the other courts and leave "the people's court" alone. Not sure why she believes she entitled to the position, but courts are better off in the hands of an attorney whenever possible. JP3 has a chance to choose an attorney to preside in that court and they should. Josh Herrera is the right choice in that race.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 4

JP 4 is pretty much the same deal. Rebeca Bustamante is trying to unseat one-term incumbent Jesus Urenda. Urenda has some integrity problems in my opinion. He didn't break the rules, but he sure bent them in the Sun Bowl Parade by attaching his campaign signs to the Constable vehicles, paid for by you the tax payers, and just covering up the part that said what he was running for. But they were absolutely his campaign signs. So for me, if he's will do to that on Thanksgiving with most of El Paso watching, God only knows what happens when no one is looking. He's also made some pretty outrageous claims cutting truancies since he's been elected.

This is a lie and that says a lot about his character. Chatman has also taken credit for doing so, over in the JP 5 race. But lets set the record straight, yes over the last 4 years truancies have taken a major nose dive. But its not because the JP's did anything about it. Its because there was a change in state law and they are almost never taken to JP court anymore. Thats the real reason they are down. So no JP should be bragging about how they cut truancies because they didn't, the legislature did. Hell YISD hasn't sent a single case to the JP courts in over a year. Not one. That is pretty much half of Urenda's area and nearly all of Chatman's.

Bustamante is an established and experienced attorney. Urenda tries to downplay it by saying she's "just an immigration lawyer". Well any lawyer that went to law school, graduated, and passed the bar exam anywhere in the United States is far more versed, trained, and experienced in the law, than a JP that never went to law school.

For integrity, experience and education, JP 4 (that is you eastsiders) should send Urenda packing and elect Bustamante.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 5

I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but voters in the Lower Valley, despite his MANY flaws, should re-elect John Chatman. Now that the race is down to Chatman and Lucilla Najera, while is not the greatest choice of candidates, the choice is clearly Chatman.

Chatman is not a nice person. Frankly he was a total ass to former opponent Kathryn Lucero and her child during the election. The position has gone to his head, he's arrogant, entitled, abrasive, and thinks his first name is now "judge".

But...he's still head and shoulders a better pick for the position than Najera. For weeks I heard Najera lie to voters. For weeks I heard her say she was "going to help the veterans" and blow smoke up voters' asses about how she was also going to help with traffic control and street repairs. Those are federal and municipal issues respectively.

I don't have to tell you because you already know, but the JP courts have no role in those issues. There is no budget line item in their courts for street repairs.

Lucilla Najera represents everything that is bad about lower valley politicians. The biggest plague to lower valley voters over the years has been the fact that there are fake, back-slapping politicians that prey on voters by telling them what they want to hear and making promises they have no intention or ability to fulfill. It is everything bad about government. Its why people lose faith in government. Its why they don't trust politicians.

And Najera is the epitome of that old type of politician. Lately she's had this gimmick of putting American flags on her campaign signs. But when you look at her voting history, its virtually non-existent. She allegedly cares so much for her country and veterans but couldn't be bothered enough to actually vote until the last election.

So while I don't care for either of the candidates as individuals, I'm still a voter in the area. I'm voting for Chatman. Yeah, he's all the bad things I said he was, and more that I haven't, but at least he won't lie.

Najera as a JP would be a nightmare.

But there is one really good thing I can say about John-John Chatman. He has really great supporters that work the polls for him. Najera's supporters are all as annoying and full of shit as she is, but Chatman's supporters, all seniors, and your typical super-nice people from the lower valley. Every last one of them were classy, genuine, and good people. That is arguably Chatman's biggest weapon, having really great campaign workers.

Hell I'm looking forward to early voting just so I can go say hi to them.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Losers - The 2018 Primary Edition

I know, this image looks like a movie poster for the lamest villains in a (mostly) Chicano version of Infinity Wars.

It is impossible to write a piece about losers in this election cycle without talking about the absolute biggest loser of them all, Carlos Sierra or Renegade Public Relations.

The Republican operative who has since burned so many bridges that he can pretty much not get anymore work with Democrats that were hiring him at one point, went all-in on this cycle. 

Sierra’s misnamed PAC went from creation, to most hated political entity in town, to complete joke all in one election cycle. It looks like Sierra started the PAC because he has to work as the Lone Ranger because, well no one wants to be associated with him, and clearly with good reason. 

Make no mistake about it Sierra was all-in for this cycle and he didn’t care how much he ruined what little dignity he still had left. It was political jihad and I guess he figured he would strap a political bomb to his chest and take people down with him. 

But it was more like he tied a cherry bomb to his balls and set it out. It was loud and bloody, but the only one that felt any pain was Sierra. Everyone else just laughed and thought to themselves, what the hell was this vato thinking?

The most interesting part of all of this is the fact that he broke a lot of rules along the way and even by breaking the rules, he still wasn’t able to be effective. 

So when Carlos Sierra is not getting his ass whooped outside of a Journey concert by some white boy on a volleyball scholarship at UTEP, he’s busy getting his ass whooped in campaigns.

Carlos Sierra was seriously a big joke in the end. Even his little tag line ended up being a used against him. That guy foolishly started fights on social media and was bombarded with people who couldn’t stand him or his tactics. I mean they pounded the guy into submission. To the point that eventually he was just responding with a kissy-face emoji.

This leads to an important lesson for people to learn - if people continually lose, why the hell do you hire them?

I think he can probably kissy-face those opportunities goodbye. 

We good?

Dori Fenenbock et al

No one who lives in the real world spends $300,000 of their own money on a congressional race to only get 20% of the vote and still not make a run-off thinks it was money well-spent. 

I say et al because this screw up was certainly a team effort. If she doesn’t see it now, I’m sure Dori Fenenbock has looked back and realized there were a lot of people that were there to pretty much milk the campaign dry and she doesn’t really have much to show for it. 

That entire staff belongs on this list, if for no other reason that they should be embarrassed at having spent that much money and yielded almost nothing. 

The Reyes’ went all personal with this race because they still aren’t over losing to Beto O’Rourke and word around the campfire is that some long-time friendships were broken up over this race, which I guess makes Dori the Yoko Ono. Anywho, a long time ago I asked the rhetorical question of what Veronica Cintron was actually getting paid to do since I knew Dori had lost her big shot consultant and Chris Hernandez was doing field. 

I wonder even more now. 

But et al also means her allies at EPISD that if you have noticed, sure have piped down since Dori lost haven’t they? In the opinion of many Hatch, Cabrera, Mickey Loweree, and the rest of the crew politicized their seats on EPISD to try to cause problems for Escobar. 

Cabrera filed a grievance against Trustee Byrd and we recently heard he thinks she's discriminating against him because he's brown. Which is weird because well, he was supporting the white chick in the race and Susie was supporting the Latina. But that clique had the nerve to point the finger at Byrd, who never once made her support for Escobar some kind of secret, while those hypocrites went to Fenenbock’s announcement, set up and ran social media pages for her, and denied participating in political activities. Hell, there were multiple accounts of Cabrera allegedly campaigning for Fenenbock and he was included inexplicably on an email about a union endorsement. 

Even political organizations weren’t able to get off the Titanic. The Northeast Democrats look corrupt as all hell because their president attended Dori’s announcement, wore her t-shirt, and then they held an endorsement meeting before the filing window had even closed. 

They even supplied the questions to Fenenbock in advance, a fact that came to light because Chris Hernandez starting complaining that things weren’t going according to script.

Then the Tejanos, who revoked an endorsement from a candidate who had apparently disparaged Latinos by referring to us as “Mexican” but turned around and endorsed a white woman who bragged about beating Mexican American opponents for school board - over four other candidates that are actually raza.

Seriously, this campaign was one giant cluster fuck. 

Forma Group

Team Forma had another rough election cycle. I don’t know if any of their clients actually won, but their main client for HD 75 lost and lost in pretty dramatic fashion. 

On paper their candidate for HD 75 was everything Chente Quintanilla (their last candidate for that seat) isn’t. Smart, attractive, young, articulate, and Latina/Native. They were well-funded too. 

And yet despite such a huge upgrade in talent in terms of a candidate, they still basically produced the identical poor results as with Chente against State Rep Mary Gonzalez. 

They did’t manage to get a candidate in the congressional race nor in the county judge race that I am aware of, although I think they did a small amount of work for Samaniego recently. 

So the fact that they didn’t have a strong performance in the one big race they had is really problematic for them. 

Norma Chavez

She’s on this list not just because of how incredibly bad she performed in the congressional race, but also because there is no longer anyone around her that is protecting her from her conspiracy theories. 

I mean one day you are running for congress and the next you are posting on Facebook about poses that allow you to release trapped gases from your body.

Seriously, that happened. I’m not making that up.

Norma’s end of her political career came decisively. She got her ass kicked a madre. And in typical Norma style, she couldn’t just go away quietly and gracefully. She has to once again demonstrate that special little problem common in only children, she threw a tantrum because she thinks the world revolves around her. 

It was just the fact that she lost that puts her on this list. It wasn’t even how badly she performed that puts her on this list, although its part of the reason. Its the stupid court case. 

It was Norma’s ego that put her in this race and its her ego that won’t allow her to let it go. When she ran for the congressional seat, her reason for running was 100% all about Norma. She felt it was owed to her and this was her shot to get that brass ring. 

And when she showed up in the final results with such an embarrassingly bad performance, well thats when her ego kicked in. Her ego couldn’t allow her to understand she was soundly rejected by voters. 

No, it just had to be some conspiracy afoot that was keeping her from her prize. That is the only explanation for her performance that her brain could wrap itself around. And so she and her tag team partners devised a plan to file a frivolous lawsuit. 

And who does she attack in the lawsuit? 


It was a completely baseless claim and someone who should be doing everything in her power to improve voter turnout in this community did the opposite. And who are the people that are the most disenfranchised when someone like her undermines their confidence in the voting system?


To complete the parallels between Norma and Trump, this lawsuit thing is her birther issue. 

But knowing that massive ego of hers, watch Norma run for something else. 




Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez talked a lot of shit after election night, so I need to set the record straight on a couple things. Affectionately referred to as “the Dollar Store Mike” by other field operatives in town, which is a reference to Mike Apodaca, Hernandez is on the loser list, but he’s also a winner. 

Not because of judicial races he says he won, but for a reason I’ll get to a little later. 

Chris candidly called himself the Tony Romo of local elections, referring to not ever being able to win the big one. I’d say he’s more the Quincy Carter of El Paso politics, but thats neither here nor there. 

To an extent, its not all his fault Dori lost. Chris just has a way of picking up TERRIBLE candidates. That is a direct result of the fact that Chris Hernandez doesn’t have a particular set of political values or code he abides by. I mean even Carlos Sierra has people he won’t work for, but Chris pretty much goes where the money is. As I said in a video on Facebook, he’s like a stripper in the VIP. Enough money and well, pretty much anything is on the table. 

Which is why for the life of me I can’t understand why he was crying on election night. Aside from the fact that I don’t understand crying at an election loss (though its common and I have seen it plenty of times, so he’s not a freak or something. Its just not something I would ever do.), I can’t get the emotional attachment. Like I said, he goes wherever he’s paid, so its not like some really devoted Hillary or Bernie supporter that was really emotionally invested in the candidate they believed in. 

Its all a paycheck for him. 

So I thought maybe it was pride in his work. I could see someone, even if they are in it for the money, being pretty emotionally invested in their reputation and the quality of their work. But he knew Fenenbock was polling low. He knew that there were polls going around that had Escobar not only above 50%, but approaching 60%, which admittedly I didn’t believe myself. But he’s been around the block. He knew he was working for someone with very little name ID, almost no base, and a terrible message. He knew that, so her loss shouldn’t have come as that big of a surprise. 

The only thing I can think it was, was the fact that he charged Fenenbock a TON of money and there was essentially no return on that investment. Even if you subscribe to the idea that they hit all the doors they say they hit (multiple times), there is still some expectation that your field work will yield a positive result. Otherwise, why on earth would you pay someone to do it?

Your field people are the ones that can tell you if your message is working or not. They are the ones that can tell you if you’re liked or not, or if you’re known or not. They know how things are going to go before anyone else, including the candidate. 

Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I knew we were gonna lose the race I was running. People thought I was being modest, but I knew it wasn’t going well. Chris should have told the campaign that most people didn’t know Dori or had a negative opinion of her, because that was the feedback he was getting at the door.

If he didn’t, then shame on him. But I think he did tell them and they just didn’t listen. Which further perplexes me because why on earth would you pay a lot of money (and he made a shit ton off Fenenbock) and not listen to him?

So why is he a winner? Well, aside from winning some down-ballot races, he’s a winner because no matter how often he picks the absolute douchiest candidates to work with, he always finds a way to get someone else with a big budget to hire him. 

You gotta respect the salesmanship if nothing else. 

Lately he's been crying on Facebook that he isn't getting work and blames Congresswoman-elect Escobar for him not getting work, referring to her as being "vindictive" against him. I don't think she thinks that much of him to actively work against him. That would imply that Escobar thinks two things 1) that he's effective and 2) that she sees him as a threat. I don' think either are the case for her. I just think Hernandez hasn't realized that there are consequences in this line of work and well, you reap what you sow. 

Ruby Ramirez

Another election cycle, another incident of big promises, delivering nothing, and people wanting to fire her before the election is over. 

Somehow still gets work. I just don’t get it. Why do you candidates do that to yourselves?


Yep, I deserve to be on this list and frankly, I’m the only one around here that would have the balls to put his own name on the list. It was a small down ballot race that should have been won. 

Unlike others, I won’t give excuses as to the loss because a loss is a loss no matter how much you try to sugar coat it. 

This one stings. No sprinkles for Lion Star. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

San Eli - Stay the Course

I've been fortunate enough to be a part of a lot of amazing things in this community and one of the things I am most glad I was a part of was the incorporation of El Paso County's oldest community, San Elizario.

Yeah, yeah, I know, this is the part where some of you roll your eyes and say, "there goes Abeytia talking about the valley again..."

San Elizario is set to have another municipal election this weekend and voters in Texas' oldest community / newest municipality have an important decision - stay the course with progress, or take a massive step backward.

Voters in San Elizario should stay the course and re-elect Mayor Maya Sanchez, Alderperson Becky Martinez-Juarez, and Alderperson George Almanzar.

The alternative is a dangerous and expensive step backward. First, let me give you some background.

Back in 2013 Socorro, under Norma Chavez's old buddies - the Gandara Clan, tried to annex San Elizario. I was in the office the day the call came in to Commissioner Perez's office from Road & Bridge telling us that Soco-loco wanted to annex San Eli.

Obviously it was a text book Gandara movida and it needed to be stopped. A group of brave community members in San Eli stepped up to stop the Gandaras.

It was mostly women.

The Sanchez family, Leti Miranda and her family, the Montes family, the Licon family, Ms Martinez-Juarez, Mr Almanzar, Paul Johnson, Rene Rodriguez and others, all good, humble working-class people that were willing to step up and stand against the most powerful political family in the valley to protect their community.

I know I left some other families out, which is unintentional, so I apologize. The point is, San Elizario as most of us know it, was going to cease to exist. And people in San Eli were going to start paying taxes to Socorro, which are pretty high.

So they were faced with either paying higher taxes to a corrupt neighbor that just wanted to use them for a Gandara wet-dream of a Socorro (really San Eli) port of entry, or pay a little more in taxes (less than Socorro) and be able to have self-determination.

This group of people were willing to put their time, effort, energy, brains, muscle, and will-power to stand up for their community despite long odds. They put in countless hours researching, organizing, and fundraising.

I lost track of how many enchilada plates I purchased. I sat in the audience when they went to the belly of the beast in Socorro to face the Gandara administration to protest the annexation. I was there the day they had a community meeting and searched for answers. Some people were there to just complain. Others were there to step up and do their part.

We sat in the audience during the court cases. We saw the hope in their eyes when the judge ordered a special election because the Gandara's unlawfully extended their terms in office.

We helped them organize in order to help good people in Socorro take on the Gandaras.

We helped them identify voters, knocked on doors, spoke to voters and collected signatures with them.

I was there the day they turned the signatures in to the County Judge to incorporate.

I had a ringside seat to the whole thing. I saw who talked a big game, I saw who was against incorporation from day one, and I saw who were the work horses.

People in San Elizario know the value of a good work horse.

And I mean that in the literal and figurative sense.

Have you ever went home with chile embedded in the bed of your fingernails for days from making enchiladas to raise money to pay lawyers to help save your town?

No, you haven't.

And you don't know anyone who has unless you're one of the few people that were part of that effort.

Mayor Maya Sanchez took the lead on that effort. I know, I took her phone calls when I worked for the Commissioner. My buddy Jose and I worked with that group very closely.

Hell, we helped draw the lines of the town.

Becky and George stepped up with Maya and others when the election to incorporate happened. They shepherded their community through incorporation. Then they stepped up again along with Leti and others to serve as the first city council in San Elizario.

That team has worked closely with Commissioner Perez, then-County Judge Escobar, and others at the County and the MPO to get San Elizario on its feet and get much needed infrastructure investments for the area.

They protected their community. They advocated for their community. They have planted the seeds for economic development, while maintaining the integrity of their agricultural identity, increased accessibility to park space, and made the community a safer place by investing in law enforcement.

For many, many years I have documented failed leadership in the valley. Its the kind of thing that will break your heart. People in the valley are genuinely good, hard-working people who just want to provide their families with a better life and have been plagued by leadership that has consistently let them down. But the valley, over the last 6-8 years has been experiencing a renaissance. Now, some of the strongest, most dedicated and reliable leaders in the County, come from the valley.

Mayor Sanchez and Alderpersons Martinez-Juarez and Almanzar are among those leaders.

They are facing opponents that are either involved in sweetheart contracts with San Eli School Board (the guy even voted for his own sweetheart deal - multiple times), a high school student at San Eli High School, or someone who worked actively against incorporation from day one.

San Eli is on a good path and voters should vote to keep their leadership and continue the progress.

¡Viva San Elizario!