In case some of you missed it, on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 the El Paso Times, masquerading as a newspaper, published an article about Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria resigning as the city’s financial officer. The daily reported that Arrieta-Candelaria’s last day on the job would be July 17, 2014. Although the article stated that Arrieta-Candelaria would be returning to the “private sector”, it failed to report where in the private sector she will go.
It is very possible that Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria did not want to identify where she will be working next, however because of all of the controversy surrounding her involvement in the ballpark, the floating of numerous taxpayer obligations and the city’s budgets it will be interesting to see where she ends up next.
Although the city is notorious for keeping exiting employee agreements veiled behind “personnel matters” the important question is whether Arrieta-Candelaria is also a recipient of another Joyce Wilson inspired “golden parachute”. This is especially important in light of the Jane Shang issue.
Unfortunately, we will probably never get to take a glimpse of Arrieta-Candelaria’s exit agreement with the city, however, in time we might be able to connect the dots and get a better understanding of her departure from the city. Keep an eye on where she pops up next.
The other issue that became public is University Medical Center’s (UMC) court settlement with the woman that was brought in by border officials and violated by UMC medical staff in search of drugs. According to a statement published by the Texas Tribune on July 7, 2014, UMC will pay $125,000, its insurance carrier will pay $475,000 and Texas Tech University will pay $500,000.
Although the county hospital is only paying $125,000 directly, the cost of the insurance company’s $475,000 will eventually be borne by the taxpayers paying into the hospital’s budget. This is because the hospital’s insurance rates will be determined by payouts, such as this, next time they reset. This is money coming out of the pockets of the taxpayers.
Of course, the $500,000 paid by Texas Tech University is also taxpayer funded, albeit at the state level.
In all, the city’s taxpayers may be glad to see that the settlement paid for by their property taxes may seem insignificant although the fact remains that it is money being spent that must be recouped through additional taxes. More importantly is the question about how the hospital was put in the situation of having to make this payment in the first place.
Obviously, the hospital agrees that what it did was wrong by acknowledging that changes needed to be made and by agreeing to the settlement. The question though, is how it got to the point that medical staff felt compelled to disregard the rights of a citizen, not to mention patient rights and dignity, as they performed multiple invasive procedures at the behest of a police agency.
Has society become so desensitized to the erosion of civil rights that medical staff disregards the patients’ dignity? Keep in mind that we only know about this case. Are we to accept that there have not been any other cases like this?
My issue is that I have written numerous blogs pointing out how impunity is basis of the El Paso political system. What happened to the woman at UMC is a result of the impunity I continue to point out. The hospital has stated that it has taken steps to rectify the situation and all we can do at this point is accept them at their word.
However, what about the number of cases of abuse that have been levied against the El Paso Police Department? Are we to assume that all of those cases are misleading and that the police department adheres to common decency and respects the community? The city has paid numerous claims to settle reported cases of police misconduct and have kept the results of the investigations secret through bureaucratic processes. Yet, not once has the city made a statement that it has made changes to rectify problems within the ranks of the police department.
In fact, the city continually pontificates that it is one of the safest cities in the nation thanks to the local police force. Of course, it conveniently ignores the numerous officers who have been indicted in the last five years for criminal activities ranging from theft through falsifying police records to drug trafficking.
As the case of UMC demonstrate, the actions of government employees directly translates into higher taxes for the community. More egregious though, is that many government employees have been proven to violate common civil rights and human dignity because of the impunity within the city’s political system.
Is this why El Paso is listed as one of the safest city’s in the nation because to point out otherwise could result bodily harm?