Typical City Council: Pontificating and Nothing Else

As much as I was hoping that the new city administration would have the courage to put a pause on the fiasco of the baseball arena, the reality is that the powers-that-be have entrenched themselves so well that the new city administration is powerless to do anything about it. At least that is the latest mantra. As is typical with El Paso politics there is the usual rhetoric of trying to do something but in the end the reality is that the MountainStar ownership group gets to keep pillaging the taxpayers of the city and the city council gets to pontificate.

Oh sure, the city council managed to pass the Holguin motion to request that MountainStar Sports Group put up “personal guarantees” but this is nothing more than a “pretty please, would you do as the favor” that gets nothing done in the end.

The ownership group bluntly said “no”.

I realize that this city council has only had 72 hours to get up to speed and that my initial perception may be just that, an initial perception that might be proven wrong. But I won’t be holding my breath. What is happening is a process that was strategized well ahead. Foster, Hunt and et al know that city council will be preoccupied by the budget process for the next few months and know full well that any more discussion to hold them accountable will not be forth coming.

Like most El Pasoans we know nothing about what backdoor deals may have transpired with the new administration or what, if anything, the legal department is telling city council in executive session. That is part of the invading horde’s modus operandi; burry everything in legalese.

What I find most interesting is that the city has the resources to legally bury anyone attempting to hold them accountable, yet when it comes to the horde the process is so ironclad that revisiting any measure is impossible.

How very convenient.

As naïve is it may be, I am still holding out that Oscar Leeser will show leadership and actually do something for those that elected him to office. Unfortunately he does not inspire any confidence in me when the media quotes him first as stating that the “City made a bad deal when it entered into a contract with MountainStar Sports Group last year”, but then promptly turns around and states that “it’s too late to back out now”.

I get the feeling that Oscar Leeser is positioning himself to play Solomon and get everyone to play ball. As Solomon he will placate each side with a little give, and a little take. In the end it will just be Cook, version 2.

I understand that it is easy for me to armchair the process and that I’m not sitting in the big chair making the decisions. But Oscar Leeser didn’t get to where he is by placating his team. I also understand that his function is largely peacemaker and sometimes tie-breaker.

None of that should excuse him from assuming a leadership role and setting the tone for the city’s policy direction. Maybe it is too late to stop, or pause the ballpark progress but it is definitely not too late to set clear guidelines to all involved by not vacillating between we made a “bad deal” to “it’s too late to back out now”.

How about a simple message? Oscar Leeser and the voters agree that a “bad deal” was made. Leeser has stated it and the empirical evidence supports the argument that the voters agree. So instead of “it’s too late to back out now”, how about asking staff to bring back options to city council?

Not just the obvious options, but all options. It is easy to accept “it’s too late” just because someone says it is. We all assume that it is too late because the legal department says it is.

I’ve never been to a lawyer who has told me, you know you signed a contract and, oh well you are so screwed that you shouldn’t bother to try to get out of it. Oh, yes they will tell me that to get out of it is too expensive or it might put me in a worse legal position but none have ever told me “it’s too late” to get out of it. Ethical lawyers lay it out for me. They tell me this is what happens if you decide to litigate your position. And then they let me decide whether it is worth it to me or not.

At his point all the community knows is that “it’s too late” to get out of it. But the why hasn’t been answered and options haven’t been offered. Leadership from Oscar Leeser would have been asking city council, in open session, to put a motion for consideration for the next city council meeting to have staff bring back a list of the ramifications for rescinding the lame-duck’s additional $12 million gift to MountainStar. Even better would be to have a clear understanding of what it would cost the community to pause the project in order to see what options the community has.

Accepting the notion that “it’s too late to back out now” just further fuels the notion that the backdoor meetings continue. With a clear mandate from the electorate Oscar Leeser should be leading rather than accepting the status-quo that it’s too late to do anything about it.

Thinking about backdoor meetings brings out the conspiracy theorist in me. I find it interesting that the city council feed is intermittent yesterday and that the city’s feed archives do not include yesterday’s meetings. This has forced me to rely on the news media for an understanding of what transpired yesterday.

It may all have been an innocent glitch but it is all too convenient for the invading horde. Regardless, at this point, it seems to me that Oscar Leeser’s administration will be based on the Solomon notion of bringing the community together by not challenging the invading horde. His leadership will allow the baseball fiasco to proceed, to the detriment of the taxpayer while Leeser gets to pontificate that it is a “bad deal” but we’re stuck with it.

I hope I’m wrong.