Some of you may have noticed that the El Paso, Inc. ran a Whispers column yesterday where it was disclosed that the El Paso Children’s Hospital has a new chair. She is Rosemary Castillo, founder of Bienvivir Senior Health Services. She replaced Sam Legate as board chair.
As most of you know, I like to connect-the-dots. We know there is much controversy with the UMC bonuses and the financial status of the El Paso Children’s Hospital. Both Rosemary Castillo and Sam Legate have been extensively involved in the finances of both entities since at least 2007. The El Paso Inc. reports that Sam Legate has been involved with the children’s hospital since it opened in 2012.
In 2007, there was some controversy over the appointment of Rosemary Castillo to the UMC board. Anthony Cobos, currently sitting in jail for mortgage fraud and public corruption, convened a Blue Ribbon committee, at the behest of UMC’s Jim Valenti, to look at extending the board terms for UMC. Valenti and Veronica Escobar advocated extending the board terms from two to three years. They also wanted to extend the term limits for the board from six to eight years.
Then Precinct 2 Commissioner, Veronica Escobar argued that extending the term limits was necessary in order to allow Rosemary Castillo to be reappointed by Escobar. Castillo had termed out. For her part, Rosemary Castillo argued that Thomason “had outgrown the governance model” and needed longer terms. Escobar’s reappointment of Castillo to UMC was rejected on a three to two vote by commissioner’s court. Cobos’ committee did not extend the term limits.
Ron Acton, who was also being termed out, also criticized the short terms. It was during this time that the El Paso Children’s Hospital was being proposed as a public/private partnership whereby the taxpayers would pass a bond to build the hospital while the children’s hospital would remain outside of the purview of the taxpayers. UMC’s board members were needed to make the El Paso Children’s Hospital possible as UMC would be the one charging rents and other fees that is now at the center of the controversy. UMC was also the vehicle used to pay for the children’s hospital from the taxpayer bonds.
In July of 2007, Betti Flores pleaded guilty to public corruption. It was both Acton and Castillo who told the news media that they were surprised that Betti Flores had pleaded guilty, in part, to accepting cash bribes for an underwriting contract for Thomason Hospital, now UMC. Jim Valenti and Rosemary Castillo were quoted by the El Paso Times on July 10, 2007 as stating they “didn’t understand where the crime was committed because Flores never had an opportunity to vote” on the bond contracts. Castillo was the chairperson of UMC at the time that the transactions, Betti Flores pleaded guilty to, were completed.
For his part, Ron Acton is quoted by the newspaper as stating, “As a lifetime El Pasoan, I’m greatly disappointed by what has occurred recently. We are not a city that has gone bad, we are city that is moving ahead as we’ve moved ahead before.” 
Let that sink in for a moment.
Ron Acton defended Jim Valenti’s bonuses, even though UMC has had to a take out a payday loan and recently fired 56 employees. Acton and Castillo are now at center of the financial controversies involving UMC and the El Paso Children’s Hospital. Both are having serious financial problems.
Betti Flores pleaded guilty to accepting bribes for contracts at UMC. That is a fact. Acton, Castillo and Valenti, who did not understand how Flores could have influenced the contracts she accepted bribes for, are now at the center of two taxpayer-funded entities that are at the center of serious financial problems.
Am I the only one who sees a problem with all of this?
1. Crowder, David; “Thomason Hospital officials counter Flores’s claim”; El Paso Times; July 10, 2007