The recent debacle over the MPO and the city’s incompetence of how it has handled transportation monies is a classic example of a political power play in process. Recently some issues have arisen that has given Vincent Perez the opportunity to consolidate his powerbase and start establishing a political dynasty for himself. I am going to dissect what is happening although I am going to gloss over some details in an attempt to keep my blog post shorter as some of you have been complaining about the length of my blogs.
The first and obvious thing that has empowered Vince Perez is his girlfriend’s win of the El Paso City District 6 office. Her clear victory on her reelection campaign for a full term has given her the powerbase and time to establish the policy agenda that Vince Perez is driving. The lynchpin to Perez’ sudden move to begin establishing himself is less obvious, except to the individuals watching the political landscape closely.
When the El Paso Children’s Hospital chose to file for bankruptcy, rather than submit to Veronica Escobar, it weakened Escobar politically and opened up the door for Vincent Perez. Perez had been carefully establishing his political bonafides as independent from Escobar by carefully supporting her UMC clinics and the County Manager agenda while ensuring that she expended her political influence for gaining his support. He then started consolidating his powerbase via his move to make the bail bond services part of the County as well as championing the jail cost analysis. They both lead to increased pots of money that Perez can use to leverage political opportunities.
These actions by Vince Perez were part of a long-range plan to establish himself.
However, the filing of bankruptcy by the children’s hospital severely hurt Veronica Escobar’s political ambitions and thus, like all sharks, Perez saw an opportunity to expedite his plans. Knowing that his time at the MPO was coming to an end as chairman, Perez attempted to consolidate even more power by placing his girlfriend, Claudia Ordaz, in play at the MPO.
Although the MPO was part of a long-range plan, Escobar becoming politically toxic forced Perez to expedite his plans to consolidate his power. Like all politicians, Vince Perez needs money from wealthy campaign contributors.
With Veronica Escobar’s political future in serious question, Vince Perez needed to be in a position to attract the attention of the wealthy campaign donors driving the public policy agenda that are currently questioning their future support of Escobar. The MPO fit perfectly as an immediate opportunity.
Look closely that the map of El Paso.
Obviously, Vince Perez has consolidated a powerbase on the far east part of town including the vast unincorporated parts of the County and has been carefully adding to it. Claudia Ordaz just happens to fit perfectly in the mix because her political powerbase is on the far eastside of the city limits. More important though is that Claudia Ordaz has proven to be attractive to the big campaign donors from downtown and the west sides of town. She was attractive to them because it allowed them to consolidate their votes on city council without worrying about a far east agenda. Vince Perez understands this and he wanted not only to strengthen his own campaign donation access while making Ordaz indispensable to those already supporting her.
Look at the map closely and it will become obvious to you. El Paso is landlocked. The political elite understands that the county’s taxpayers will be unable to keep up with rising taxes and thus the race is on to increase the tax base.
They have already tried artificially increasing wages in the hopes that higher wages delays the inevitable exodus of taxpayers who are able to pay the rising taxes. They have failed to attract outside taxes via tourism and although they are attempting, through Oscar Leeser, to attract new business investment they understand that it is also a failure.
That leaves only one option and that is to build new homes and commercial buildings in order to add to the tax base. As you look at the map, you soon realize that the only way to do that is to figure out a way to increase development and force that development to pay into the tax base. Guess who the largest developers are in El Paso.
Not only does this increase Vince Perez’ political influence but it is also the perfect vehicle with which to attract campaign contributions for political futures.
Let’s look at some recent events that should tie all of this together for you.
There was a large community with a voting constituency that opened up for Vince Perez. It is Socorro. Not only was there talk about annexation but with the demise of the Gandara Clan it left a political void open for Perez. That is why useful idiot Jaime Abeytia was tasked with keeping the Jesse Gandara trial in the blogosphere going. That had been planned well in advance to help add to the Perez powerbase.
What hadn’t been planned is the children’s fiasco that weakened Veronica Escobar.
Vince Perez, seeing an opportunity to bring in those abandoning her began expediting his political plans. This led to the unintended consequence of exposing his agenda prematurely and shinning the political spotlight on Ordaz.
This is why Jaime Abeytia began the MPO whisper campaign and why Claudia Ordaz began her power grab for a seat at the MPO. However, they were not fully prepared and they rushed in hopes of forestalling Perez’ loss of the chairmanship. That is what led to the mistakes that exposed Claudia Ordaz’s part in the ploy.
Because they weren’t fully prepared, they are forced to desperately try to control the public discussion of the part Ordaz has played in this ploy.
Now let’s look at the jail and bail reforms that Vince Perez has been championing.
As I wrote previously, the powerbase requires campaign donors who need to move away from supporting Veronica Escobar and instead begin to support Vince Perez. Both Claudia Ordaz and Vincent Perez can now politically influence one of the largest land expansion opportunities for land development in El Paso. Michiel Noe, too a much lesser extent, is the other one and he understands what is going on and along with Oscar Leeser exposed Ordaz’ ploy.
Look at who in the community benefits from having access to two of the politicians with the greatest ability to influence land development policies where the land is.
Additionally, tie in Vince Perez’s ongoing attempt to control policies for the jail and the bail bondsmen and it leads you directly to Woody Hunt. Hunt’s companies have been expanding rapidly into consulting, building and managing jail systems. Imagine the windfall for a Hunt related company, if the County of El Paso were to privatize the jail services?
This is an ongoing political power struggle and although Veronica Escobar is facing serious political problems, she is not done yet.
That is why Jaime Abeytia has been dispatched to try and retain control of the public discussion about the MPO issue, the Gandara trial as well as crisis management for Vince Perez’ political power grab.
As this continues to develop, keep a close eye on who runs for the seat Marisa Marquez is vacating. As the candidates announce see whom Vince Perez aligns himself and his inamorata behind.
There is also the ongoing undercurrent about bringing the city under the control of county government. Not only does this increase the county’s access to taxing mechanisms but it also consolidates the political power base directly under the county. This option is much more difficult to implement therefore in the meantime there is the privatization of the jail, expanded land development under well-controlled access to land and of course, there is the access to state monies through the MPO and other agencies like the school districts that are the bases of the power structures of the city.
Who says pillow talk can’t create political dynasties?