It is no secret that I am highly critical of the Veronica Escobar led public policy agenda currently in place. Although Escobar is the “face” of the public policy agenda the reality is that the public policy was put in place by Ray Caballero on the behest of others. No doubt that Foster and Hunt have benefited from the policy agenda. I recently noticed that a new political faction arose with the stated purpose of getting rid of Escobar and cohorts. I believe that the Escobar public policy agenda has been detrimental to the city; however, a question that needs to be asked is whether the city would be better off by those attempting to take over the public policy agenda?
First let’s take a look at the Leeser political faction, is it really a faction? Initially I thought that the Democratic Party in El Paso had fractured into two major factions with one faction going after Veronica Escobar. I still think that this is true however in city politics I don’t believe that Oscar Leeser is playing the Democratic Party vs. Republican Party politics card. Instead, it looks to like Oscar Leeser was the first volley in an organized attempt to oust Veronica Escobar and cohorts.
I first noticed this when Aliana Apodaca attempted to hide her association with Carlos Sierra. As some of you already know, Sierra is facing charges of indecency with a child. Cindy Ramirez filled in the missing pieces on her piece “Local political consultant facing felony charges in El Paso, Arizona” on July 10. I realize that many of us, including myself believe that the piece was a result of an effort by Bob Moore to protect Veronica Escobar and her public agenda.
However, the seriousness of the charges and the fact that Aliana Apodaca, in my opinion, tried to conceal her connection to Carlos Sierra must not be ignored. If the city of El Paso is to rid itself of a self-serving public policy agenda serving an elite few then it must do so without replacing it with another one that only serves another self-serving group. We know that Chris Acosta, an El Paso Sheriff’s spokesperson and Michael Armstrong have brought Carlos Sierra in from Arizona to mount political campaigns.
Carlos Sierra has acknowledged that his agenda, and by extension those that use him is to “put Emma Acosta, Veronica Escobar and Vince Perez out of office”. On the surface this is not such a bad proposition. However let’s connect some dots so that we can better explore this.
There is no doubt in my mind that what the city did to the Three Legged Monkey and Michael Armstrong was wrong and in my opinion corrupt. Therefore it makes sense to me that Armstrong would want to ensure that Emma Acosta is kicked out of office. The question is where does Veronica Escobar and Vince Perez fit into this?
The connecting dot is Richard Wiles. As per Ramirez’ article, Leeser was Wiles’ campaign treasurer. Add sheriff’s employee Chris Acosta and the connecting dots become evident. At the county level it appears that Richard Wiles is consolidating political power under himself and going after Escobar and Perez. At the city level, Oscar Leeser has become an instrument of that political power struggle. Ousting Escobar and cohorts seems like a sensible thing but are the replacement any better?
Let’s look at the microcosm of Oscar Leeser’s time in office so far. Has he been better for El Paso?
Let’s examine the evidence as we know it at this moment. Probably the most controversial issue of the ongoing public policy agenda is the secrecy that allows many aspects of it to be implemented. We know that Stephanie Townsend Allala has been on a quest for city emails that continue to be kept from the public. As much as Oscar Leeser has pontificated about his quest for government transparency the fact is that Oscar Leeser continues to allow the city to spend taxpayer monies in keeping the emails a secret. He continues to argue that he has instructed the city attorney’s office to end the litigation but the fact remains that his “instruction” has not translated into “action”. He allows the city attorney to continue to hide behind legal mumbo jumbo as to why the city continues to spend money on keeping the secrets.
Why? Is it because Oscar Leeser has no more interest in government transparency then those he and his cohorts purport to oust? Probably not because I believe it comes down to a personal agenda of placating the ankle-biters while Leeser and cohorts embark on their own agenda of ousting Escobar and her cohorts. Leeser does not want to be distracted by items unimportant to his goals, making one of the consequences of his inaction the controversial emails.
However it is not Oscar Leeser that is driving this attempt to take control of the public policy agenda through the ouster of Veronica Escobar and cohorts. Rather he is but one instrument of many.
It is too early to know who is truly behind the attempt to oust Escobar and cohorts. Some will argue that it is Richard Wiles but he may also be just another instrument for the true drivers.
Some of us may be celebrating the concerted effort to oust Veronica Escobar and cohorts but is it not just replacing one bad policy agenda with another?
There are already indications that this new political faction is having a detrimental effect on the community’s politics. Consider the latest county judge race. There were three viable candidates. Veronica Escobar, the entrenched incumbent benefited by a fractured opposition between Aliana Apodaca and Eddie Holguin. Apodaca’s supporters poured substantial monies into her campaign only to ensure a win for Veronica Escobar.
More importantly is whether the city will be better off after Emma Acosta, Veronica Escobar and Vince Perez are ousted. For those looking for government accountability tomorrow will be a determining factor when the issue of golden parachutes is discussed under Michiel Noe’s agenda item. I’ll address this in tomorrow’s blog. In the meantime consider what we know so far and ask yourself whether replacing Escobar’s public policy with another one associated to Leeser is better for the city than what it currently has.