One of the largest criticisms that I receive is that I’m always pointing out El Paso’ rampant corruption while ignoring the city’s “safest city” designation. The criticisms center on the notion that I hate El Paso. The truth is that I’m angry about what I see as rampant corruption while the city leaders and politicians try to hide it behind a façade of “It’s All Good” El Paso. Just last week I debated a lady on Facebook about the fallacy of the “safest city” designation. Even pointing out that the FBI discourages the use of its data to create city rankings the user decided to try and distract that truth by attempting to bait me into an argument about statistics. Even when I point out the facts, certain individuals refuse to accept them and instead try to distract with hyperbole. Last Sunday, on January 26, 2014, the El Paso Times published an article titled; “Federal investigations: Culture of corruption unveiled in El Paso” by Marty Schladen.
Schladen interviewed Robert Pitman, the US Attorney for the Western District that includes El Paso. Pitman confirmed what I had written before that the public corruption scandals in El Paso were far from over. In fact, Schladen quotes him as stating that as one set of scandals are closing, another was opening. Clearly corruption is still a problem however you’ll notice that the majority of politicians currently running for office don’t bother to mention the problem of public corruption except, in a few cases, to sign self-serving promises of cleaning up government.
Notice also how the article points out, according to the US Attorney Pitman, that his office had identified “a problem that seemed to have been fairly pervasive in county government”. The last two county judges in a row, Dolores Briones and Anthony Cobos have pleaded guilty to public corruption. I would expect that the current county judge, Veronica Escobar, other than making self-serving speeches about not being corrupt would have done something by now to alleviate the public’s distrust in county government.
In fact, when given an opportunity to do the right thing in regards to public corruption she, instead did the politically expedient thing for her, she voted to keep a lying medical examiner on the taxpayers’ dole longer than necessary. It is easy to make speeches about not being corrupt but a very different thing to actually do the right thing when it’s necessary.
Paul Shrode had been proven to have lied to a court jeopardizing the integrity of the judicial system and in the process jeopardizing the lives of those accused of a crime. When confronted with these sets of facts, Veronica Escobar chose to protect her political needs and voted to keep him employed at the county.
I have also argued for many years that there exists a nexus between the drug cartel battles in Juárez and El Paso’s corruption. For the first time, the El Paso Times has allowed that nexus to be publicly admitted. In the article, after pointing out the Zeta’s quarter-horse racing prosecution Pitman stated that people in El Paso had“awareness” that corruption was the “norm”. Pitman related how someone, who worked for one of the convicted individuals, had stated that no one seemed to think it was wrong that vendors routinely dropped off gifts.
I have also previously written about how there exists a culture in El Paso where a gift is expected around Christmas time. El Paso business is based on the scratch-your-back mentality. There were many cases where I lost out to more expensive providers because I didn’t know how to play the game properly. I didn’t know it at the time but I came to find out later. I was even once told that my prices were too low by a competitor who told me, spend some time with me and I’ll show you how it’s done.
I didn’t take him up on the offer.
I have shared with you how I was black-listed by potential customers, with the full knowledge of politicians because I wouldn’t stay quiet. Sito Negron admitted to me as much during a telephone call once, and guess what? He now works for a politician.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, notice the answer Pitman gives Schladen when the reporter asks the US Attorney, “what do you hope the public has learned?”
Pitman responded that he hopes “there will be structural changes in how things are done”. Pitman added that there are things that can be done to “increase transparency”. Notice that Pitman didn’t state, now that we’ve done our job, the leaders of El Paso have implemented structural changes. He didn’t state that El Paso leadership has increased transparency. Instead what he clearly stated is that changes in how government business is done have not been implemented and that transparency hasn’t been instituted.
What does that say about Veronica Escobar? Here is the US Attorney stating that structural changes are needed at the county.
Pitman goes on to state that the federal government has a “limited jurisdiction” adding that they “can only investigate and prosecute things that are violations of federal law”. Now ask yourself, how many successful public corruption cases under state law has Jaime Esparza prosecuted?
Let’s see, the federal government agrees that public corruption is pervasive at the county. It also agrees that structural changes to circumvent the corruption have not been implemented. We have Veronica Escobar and Jaime Esparza in positions of authority at the county to prosecute and implement structural changes and what have they done? Nothing.
That’s right nothing, other than to pontificate about what’s good about their tenures in office.
However the most poignant thing in the article, at least for me, is when Schladen asked Pitman whether the media played a role in the scandal. The best Pitman could say about the media is that they played a role in “highlighting” and “communicating” what the “prosecutions” have accomplished. In other words, and between the lines, it was the work of the federal government that exposed the corruption and it had nothing to do with the media’s job of investigative reporting.
Although he doesn’t say it, I believe Marty Schladen was hoping for a quote saying that the El Paso Times was instrumental in the public corruption scandal what he got instead was a public relations canned answer saying that they communicated the work of the prosecutors.
And there, right there is the reason public corruption continues in El Paso because the media trumpets up the party of line of “it’s all good” El Paso rather than exposing the truth that is the corruption of El Paso.