Many of you chastised me for not commenting on the gross bonus issued to Jim Valenti by the hospital district board. The fact is that almost everyone agrees that the bonus is inappropriate and a gross violation of the public’s money. I issued a quick comment on my Twitter feed when the news broke. There are many El Paso topics that deserve quick “drive-by” commentary but for many reasons do not merit full write-ups. I have started using Twitter for those quick “hits” and encourage you to follow my blog’s Twitter feed to read them. Click here to follow my blog’s Twitter feed. As for the Valenti bonus there just isn’t really much more I can add to the indignation felt by the taxpayers, except to point out the faux indignation by the county commissioners.
First, let’s not pretend that the same thing doesn’t happen in the private sector because the fact is that reducing overhead and thus increasing revenues by reducing the labor costs is usually, if not always, rewarded with bonuses.
However the fact remains that UMC is publicly funded and any job losses are detrimental to a city dependent on taxpayer largess for sustainability. As such, the board that rewarded Valenti for allowing a budget crisis to ensue because of the Children’s Hospital debacle that resulted in job losses must be held accountable. Even more egregious is that it appears that Jim Valenti was caught in a lie. As you know, an email where Valenti states that no bonuses were given out, or planned has been released. We know that part of the political games played by the politicians is lying and when caught they deny, or pretend it was a misunderstanding. When that fails a scapegoat is chosen to take the fall. Remember that Valenti is not a politician he is the one that implements the policy for the politicians. I’ll have more on the email on Monday but for now let us focus on the politicians.
As much as the politicians pontificate about the bonuses and feign indignation the more they betray their political shenanigans. The news media has quoted Veronica Escobar about the inappropriateness of the bonus and about the notion that the bonus should be returned by Valenti but the fact remains that Veronica Escobar can do something about it yet chooses to pontificate and pretend it is beyond her ability to force a change.
As a matter of fact, the county commissioners are in fact in a position to force a public discussion about the bonuses. Except for Vince Perez that called for the resignation of his predecessor’s public hospital appointment all of the other commissioners have either remained silent or pontificated about how they are disgusted but can do nothing about it.
Except that they can do something about it but conveniently pretend they have no authority over the hospital board conveniently forgetting that the county commissioners can apply pressure through the budget.
Do you remember how the hospital district presented their budget to the county commissioners back in August and the commissioners approved it in September? This simple fact betrays exactly how the commissioners can force the hospital district to address the bonuses, through their budget. Didn’t the hospital district ask for permission from the County Commissioners to borrow money on future tax revenues recently? The commissioners approved borrowing money to shore up the hospital’s shortfalls and now pretend they have no control over the bonuses? How very convenient.
On the surface it may seem like it is not possible because that is what the politicians want you to believe, but notice how some in Congress are currently looking at ways to stymie the president’s immigration reform initiative through budget allocations. If Veronica Escobar and cohorts really want to correct a gross violation of the taxpayers they could simply do so by having an open and frank discussion about the hospital’s budget on the commissioners’ agenda.
However that is unlikely to happen because the truth is that the public indignations about the bonuses are nothing more than a “wink-wink” we’ve got you covered but we have to pretend to care about the taxpayers of the county. They all know that if no concrete action is taken before the holidays the issue will eventually be relegated to a historical footnote where no one will care. That is exactly what they are hoping for.