New Batch of John Cook Emails Show More Uncertainty Over Ballpark Deal

Mona, a member of the Quality of Life Voters for Democracy group, forwarded me the following three email exchanges between herself and John Cook. She contacted me via the El Paso News Facebook page after reading the John Cook open records requests that I posted last week.

As you read these three email exchanges you should keep in mind the following important date; September 18, 2012 when the council voted to reject the voter’s demand to put the demolition of city hall on the November ballot. On September 20, 2012, John Cook announced that he would not veto the council’s action.

I have italicized the emails authored by John Cook for readability.

The first email exchange titled; “Check out this article.” was initiated by John Cook to Mona and two other individuals.

August 7, 2012 @ 8:06am Cook sends the following to Mona, also to “pubear50” and “mixitords” with a carbon copy to cc to: Castillo@elpasotexas.gov

Let me set the record straight.  I do not support the demolition of City Hall in order to build a ballpark.  Don’t you think it strange that those items were placed on our agenda at the last minute when everyone knew I would not be at the council meeting where it would be discussed? They (the movers and shakers) did not want to risk the mayor speaking out on the absurdity of demolishing a perfectly good building.

People are asking me to veto the actions of the council.  My veto can be overturned by six members of council.  The vote on the ballpark and the demolition was 6 to 2 with only Representatives Robinson and Holguin seeing the folly of the proposal.

Today I will finally have the opportunity to speak out publicly on this issue so folks will know where I stand.

Keep me in your prayers as I stand up and speak for the majority of El Pasoans.

On August 7, 2012 @ 1:27pm Mona responds to John Cook.

“Mr. Mayor sir…..   the citizens of el paso want to stand behind you on this…..we ask…..no we BEG that you show us something.  VETO THIS!   i understand you said that you would be outvoted, but if you did this as a symbol of your devotion to your city and your citizens, then those who may be confused or on the fence will have a better understanding of what is going on and will stand with you!  if you can VETO this even knowing it will not matter at council. the PEOPLE WILL COME AND STAND WITH YOU!   please Mr. Mayor please show us a sign of your good faith, and the people will be with you!!”

On August 7, 2012 @ 3:24pm, Cook responds to Mona.

The time to veto the demolition needs to be when a contract comes to council.  The supporters of this project have been working on it for a long time.

What is on today’s agenda is to find alternate locations for city government.  Today’s actions can not impact the decisions made in June.  Also, a veto on council action has to be done within 72 hours of that action.

If I knew of a way to stop this I would, however I can’t see a solution that will change the direction the city manager and the six council members have chosen to take.

 

The second thread is titled; “this is what people think of el paso now

On August 17, 2012 @ 10:34 pm Mona sends this email to John Cook.

“I jst want you to print this and hand it out to your fellow council members , but i will also send them copies…..i have sent this out to many and hopefully it goes viral!  this is what el pasoans think of you guys now….”

Note: Attached to this email is my article; “El Paso Downtown Stadium: Just more corruption” that was copied and pasted on by Mona.

On August 18, 2012 @ 10:46 pm, John Cook responds to Mona.

While you make many fine points about why it is not the smartest thing we have done to demolish a paid for city hall to build a new stadium, you also make many other points that I don’t agree with.

Just a humble suggestion: you might want to focus on just one issue at a time.

On August 19, 2012 @ 1:16pm, Mona responds to Cook.

“Mr. Mayor, I did not write that article. I shared it with you, as an example of what people are saying.  the citizens of El Paso do not trust their elected officials anymore and many are vowing to vote for ANYONE running against them now.  It is a really sad day for me to see my democratic process stomped on in this manner. I know you are against tearing down city hall. and maybe even insights SCIENCE museum.  i personally find it despicable, that with all the corruption in our education system we would throw our children to the wolves by demolishing a science museum, when we all know that math and science ARE the future of this society!  and this council and Ms. Wilson would show such disrespect for education in this way. And yes i know i am somewhat rambling now, but the truth of the matter is that not only will we be affecting peoples democratic process to vote on what to do with our money and our quality of life, but also we could lose a perfectly good building, spend tens of millions on things we already have, and take an asset away from our kids! my son is seeing all this happen, he is at a very impressionable age right now, and his faith in government is faltering fast.  I will not give up on this. nor will the people of this city, the “official launch of petition signing begins tomorow morning at CITY HALL which is OUR CITY HALL by the way,, but believe me, the signing had already begun, and it is overwhelming to say the least!  THIS IS A MOVEMENT. WE WILL SAVE OUR CITY HALL. I, am asking that you Please do the right thing and publicly support us on this issue……more people will regain their trust and respect if they know you are behind them.”

On August 20, 2012 @ 6:40am, Cook sends this to Mona.

I join the masses of unhappy campers over all of this!

On August 20, 2012 @ 8:10pm, Mona responds to Cook.

“any thoughts on why the council has decided to have town hall meetings with the voters about this issue and forgot to mention to holguin or robinson that this was even on the agenda?   did you even know about it?    i will be asking them both to join in those meetings and i will be asking citizens to demand that they be included in this process!   i would hope you would do the same.”

On August 21, 2012 @ 3:21pm, Cook responds to Mona.

I found out yesterday when I received the press release.  I think you know why two reps were excluded.

On August 21, 2012 @ 8:26pm, Mona send the following to John Cook.

“i personally find this to be one of the most disgusting things any group of people have ever done to their own community and i ray that the FBI looks into this.  I hope you dont find me to be too rude, i am just terribly frustrated by this action.  I personally feel like our city ran just fine before joyce wilson got here, and i think you were doing a tremendous job. now it seems as if you are just the guy in the background with no say in anything, and i can imagine how frustrating this has to be for you. does holguin and robinson not being invited to this violate anything to your knowledge,?  i would think there would be an open meeting violation in there somewhere.   i also found out that a city manager can be dismissed with a council vote…..why not do what they did to you…..vote her out on the day that her supporters are not there.   just saying…  i heard the former mayor yesterday on norma chavez talk show and he thinks that city hall is actually worth about 35 million at this time…..35 million and 33 milion for demolition already puts us 68 million in the hole from where i sit….what do you think…..what smart person or business savvy person would allow  35 million dollars to be smashed up like that?   anyway, i apologize if i have seemed rude to you, but ii feel that as mayor, you need to stand up with us and show the people who elected you that you support us, as we have supported you all these years.    thank you for your time sir.”

On August 21, 2012 @ 9:05pm, Cook responds to Mona.

You asked a couple of questions.  The first I would like to respond to is the removal of the city manager.  She has six solid supporters.  To remove her an item would have to be posted 72 hours in advance.  Even if only five members of council showed up, it would have to be a two to two vote with me breaking the tie.  I can’t see that happening.

You also ask about the value of city hall and the total cost of the project.  These are my calculations:

Value of City Hall……$35 million
Value of Insights …….$1.5 million
Cost of demolition and Stadium …..$50 million
Cost of temporary locations plus renovations  ….$30 million
Cost of new City Hall in a couple of years ……….$50 million
Financing and bond issuance Costs of all projects …… $200 million over life of the bonds
Loss of trust in city government ……………. priceless

These are conservative estimates in my opinion except for the last item. By the way, I appreciate your rudeness and your passion for doing what is right.

On September 5, 2012 @11:50pm, Mona sends the following to John Cook.

“hello, Mr. Mayor, I am sure I don’t need to tell you that Tuesday is a big day!  I saw rep.  Acosta saying she now believes this should go to the voters!  and she also said she did not see the sense in tearing down a building like city hall to move to older buildings!  awesome!  I am hoping she will change her vote on tuesday, and if she does, we the city of el paso, the citizens and taxpayers, the heartbeat of this city need you to use your veto power to stop this future fiasco. We are asking you to do what you know is right! keep city hall right where it is, keep insights museum, so kids can have that leqarning tool in their lives!!   Having MSS say they will lift the no-compete clause just is not enough…people have done the math, and in the end, we still lose money!   you yourself told me that the cost of loss of trust in city government would be priceless!  LISTEN to the PEOPLE!   we have spoken, and in this case you know this is right and you are the person who can stop a major travesty for our future generation.  I do not want my child to have monery problems, and to have to be bailed out of a financial crisis!  I want to know he has a secure fututre free of debt, but if this stadium deal passes, even your bloodline suffers!  We all suffer!

please sir…………………VETO THIS!”

 

The third thread is title: “The ball park and demolition of City Hall”.

On September 16, 2012 @ 8:21am, Cook sends Mona the Moorad article; “Moorad Near Deal To Sell Triple-A Tucson Padres for $20M; Club Would Move To El Paso” by Eric Fisher where it is revealed that the sale of the team is not contingent on the downtown location. He writes nothing in the email.

On September 16, 2012 @ 11:50am, Mona responds to Cook.

“So what is it you are saying Mr. Cook?  Are you still planning a veto on this?  I pray you are.  the artical states that this deal is not contingent upon approval….they dont care where we put it.  YOU MUST VETO the current deal and let voters decide this. Acosta is correct by saying this is up to us!  If you dont veto this, we lose city hall, insights and most of all TRUST in those we count on to look out for us.  that means You!  YOU KNOW how WRONG this is Sir.  lease stick to your guns on this and do what the people want.  We are being bullied by the elite right now, they are organizing rallies, and giving away tickets to a game, in a stadium with a team thaat doesn’t even exist….that My dear Sir is EGO. they are trying to send the message that regardless of what local government or the people want, they are the big guns!  If we get a team, we must do it because EL PASO WANTS IT…..ALL OF EL PASO. the only way to achieve that is with a vote!  VETO THIS CURRENT FIASCO, AND DEMAND IT BE PUT ON BALLOT!  it is your job sir, !   I IMPLORE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING BY VETO!!!!!!                                                                  SINCERLY,                                                                                                                                                                a citizen of El Paso who believes that you will veto this and be our hero!”

On September 16, 2012 @ 1:15pm, John Cook sends the following to Mona.

I am hoping that council has enough sense to put the question to the voters to decide and that I am not backed into a veto corner.

And, finally, on September 16, 2012 @ 5:52pm Mona clearly implores John Cook to veto the legislation by writing;

“As am I sir, as am I.  but if you are backed into said corner…..will you use your power to veto this?  we need you mayor….we need you!”

There is really nothing I can add to this exchange. Clearly, John Cook went into the September 18, 2012 meeting knowing that the ballpark was not a good deal for the community of El Paso. He clearly felt that city hall should not be demolished.

What happened?

When I asked John Cook directly about the talk radio statement attributed to him about others being “smarter” than him, he replies as follows; “My actual comment, made on talk radio this past Saturday was more like this:  If I vetoed the action it would mean that I was saying smarter than five city council representatives who had access to the same information and disagreed with me, smarter than the city manager, smarter than two successful businessmen who believed in the project, smarter than the Greater Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber and smarter than the Paso del Norte Group.”

When I asked him what the ownership group had told him that made him change his mind that led to his not issuing a veto, he wrote that they had not told him anything.

What these emails show and what his actions, both publicly and via the emails, including the open records ones, is that John Cook clearly had reservations about the project. Recently, he has stated he still has reservations about the actions of city hall. Yet, his only response to why he did not veto the council’s action is that he felt he could not stop the project because other’s seemed “smarter” than him.

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