I thought today would be a good day to recap some pending and ongoing issues that don’t merit a whole blog post, but nonetheless are important to bring up. Obviously, the most important thing happening next week is the start of early voting. Who you vote for is unimportant as long as you understand that when things like the baseball stadium fiasco or the high taxes you pay come before you, you remember that they are a direct result of who and why you vote. The only thing I can do is share with you my viewpoints on the issues and the politicians. Ultimately and regardless of the work the news media, and other bloggers, for that matter do, are ultimately not responsible for the lies, the corruption and the ineptitude of El Paso politics. It all comes down to the voters.
As you might remember, I published a post late last month on Aliana Apodaca’s campaign finance report that was incomplete to the point that it looked like she was hiding something. Sierra Public Affairs was listed by her as “SPA” and the address on the report had two numbers transposed.
Reviewing her latest financial reports, I noticed that she filed an amended report for her January 15 report on January 27, 2014, the day before I published my article and after I had tweeted about it over the weekend.
In her correction affidavit, Apodaca wrote that in the “spirit of good faith and accountability this amendment provides the full name of [the] vendor.” Her correction listed “SPA- Sierra Public Affairs” as the corrected vendor.
So much for blogs not having an impact on the local politics.
The fiasco that keeps on giving is back on people’s radar. You might remember that the ballpark would not impact the property owners, according to the city. But we all knew better. The bonds are supposed to be paid by the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) and supported by Sales Tax revenues.
As predicted by many, the latest economic indicators are showing that Sales Tax revenues are down. Although the latest hotel occupancy reports are not available yet, both the Sales Tax indicators and other economic indicators are showing lower than expected revenues.
As if that wasn’t enough, employment figures are negative and foreclosures are up.
Guess where the money for the bonds will ultimately come from? The city will proclaim that it’s not from property taxes but wait until they shift general fund monies over to cover the shortfalls and there isn’t enough money left to pay for police and fire. Your taxes will go up for police and fire and other necessities, but hey, it won’t be because of the ballpark fiasco.
The first game hasn’t even been played yet, oh that’s right, opening day has already been pushed back, and the monies to fund the bond are tanking along with the economy.
Steve Ortega’s Emails
Contrary to the public notion that the email scandal is over with, the city is still spending money on litigating the release of emails pursuant to Stephanie Townsend Allala’s request for releasing public records. Likewise, Steve Ortega is still refusing to release certain El Paso business-related emails in his possession.
As a matter of fact, the City of El Paso filed an Appellant’s Brief on January 29, 2014. The attorneys representing the city are Denton, Navarro, Rocha, Bernal, Hyde & Zech. Take a wild guess as to who is paying for their legal work?
On Monday, I’ll fill you in on the latest legal volley on this ongoing fiasco.
The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso
Unlike the City of El Paso, its subordinate, HACEP has been extremely forthcoming with my open records request. As of this week, I have received over one thousand sheets of paper detailing the amounts paid to its Executive Director, Gerald Cichon.
I am in the process of organizing the information and depending on what they show; I may follow up with a blog post on what I find. It is important to note that initially the Housing Authority attempted to withhold its records from public scrutiny under the mistaken belief that they could determine what was subject to open records and what was not. After KVIA, Newspaper Tree and I submitted our own open records requests, HACEP responded by stating to KVIA and the Newspaper Tree that the documents would cost about $500 to release.
Ultimately and after much public attention was shed on their attempt they ultimately agreed to release the documents without fees and dropped their suit against the Texas Attorney General’s office.
If only their parent organization, the City of El Paso, would learn from them, the truth about what is in Steve Ortega’s emails might be revealed.
Many individuals including the majority of the politicians running for office are hoping you forget about the public corruption scandals. You will notice that in this election cycle, most politicians are quiet about the public corruption in El Paso, even though the investigations are still ongoing.
Although Veronica Escobar has attempted to wrap herself around the mantra that she has brought public corruption under control the facts continue to betray her. More importantly, far from being over, we know that one, or more investigations into public corruption continue.
And speaking of public corruption, let’s not forget that Jaime Abeytia still has pending charges against him. It is important to point out that he is being paid with your tax dollars by Vince Perez while he is facing charges. Abeytia is scheduled to go to court on March 4 on two adult misdemeanor charges. The first is for “breach of computer security” for under $500 and second is for “sale or display of harmful material to a minor”.
By the way, Jaime Remigio Abeytia is still listed as wanted by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office. I guess he is not visiting Arizona anytime soon.
Only in El Paso would Jaime Abeytia be employed by a politician decrying the cost of keeping people jailed while keeping someone like Abeytia, who might have to spend a few nights in jail on the public’s payroll.
As much as many of you wish El Paso would change, it is unfortunately, still in the stranglehold of the public agenda that has brought forth the public corruption that is prominent in the community today. Consider that as you cast your vote in the upcoming elections.