Commentary: Fearless leader John Cook makes matters worse

Regardless of one’s stance on the issue of the partner benefits for the city of El Paso, the important thing to note is that the ultimate decision lies with the electorate of El Paso and not the mayor. Last Tuesday, Cook decided that he knows what is right. Unfortunately in his quest for sainthood, Cook forgot that in a democracy it is the voter that determines what is right or what is wrong, not him.

Cook put on the city’s agenda an introduction to an ordinance designed to overturn the voter’s law pushed forth by the city electorate in November 2010. Cook’s introduction passed on a vote of 6 to 2.

Judge Montalvo wrote in his response to the city’s challenge of the electorate’s ordinance that electorate ordinance was constitutional. He added that it had the unintended consequence of removing other beneficiaries of the health benefits. Rather than fix the problem, omnipotent Cook has just made it worse.

After first ignoring the electorate’s will to not extend health benefits to unmarried couples, the city, forced by an electorate driven referendum, forced itself into litigation in order to circumvent the will of the people. Unfortunately for city, the judiciary found for the electorate and forced the city to accept the will of the people. Undeterred, John Cook has the unmitigated audacity to tell the community; “I think it’s important to do what’s right”.

Wow! The mayor has now decided that the citizens of El Paso are wrong! And, he, the royal highness of El Paso, as the omnipotent protectorate of the community has taken it upon himself to make things right. Funny thing is that the mayor, in his quest of becoming the community’s protectorate, has created the very thing that Judge Montalvo said would have led to a successful challenge to the community driven ordinance. Cook has now created a “class” of citizens that he is now going to exclude from the ordinance he has introduced.

Cook’s ordinance states; “That health benefits shall be available to city employees and their legal spouse and dependent children and all other persons who are within an eligible class under a City Health Benefits Plan to receive health benefits or who are in a class that actually received health benefits from the City prior to November 10, 2010, the effective date Ordinance No. 017456; provided however, that all persons who were previously approved for health benefits for the reason that they were in a ‘related agency’ shall be reevaluated to determine their eligibility under the states law enumerated classification of an ‘affiliated service contractor’ and shall be approved to re-approve for eligibility by the City Manager, as appropriate.”  [emphasis author]

Note the first line that clearly states; “legal spouse”. Towards the third line, the proposed ordinance adds; “or who are in a class that actually received health benefits from the City prior to November 10”.

In his self-centered “almighty” persona, John Cook has created the very thing Judge Montalvo said would invalidate the ordinance, a “class” of individuals. On one hand, Cook’s ordinance states that only “legal” spouses are entitled to benefits. The State of Texas does not extend marriage benefits to gay couples.

At the same time, Cook’s ordinance states that the 19 unmarried couples that were extended benefits before November 10, 2010 would continue to receive benefits.

In other words, those gay couples that want to benefit from the city’s health plan after November 10, 2010 are excluded because they are not “legally” married in Texas and were not on the plan prior to November 10, 2010. Omnipotent Cook just created an excluded “class” of individuals that makes his proposed ordinance subject to a legal challenge and one whose outcome has already been decided by a federal judge who warned against it.

In conclusion, our fearless leader John Cook, who knows better than the electorate, has put the city in a position of having to once again defend itself in court. As if that’s not enough, our self-proclaimed righteous leader not only thumbed his nose at the very people who elect him but, unsatisfied in his quest to do “right”, has also created an excluded “class” of people, the gay community he purports to help. Wow, John Cook, the omnipotent leader has no clue!