By know you have either had an opportunity to review the text messages or have heard enough about them to get a general feel for their content. Besides the fact that an elected official, Claudia Ordaz, is being coached by a County employee on city public policy, there are many more issues that the community must address. Some of them either border on criminality or are ethical violations at the very least. Today, I would like to point the most troubling ones to you.
Let us start with the most obvious problem with all of the text messages. It is clear that Claudia Ordaz is working a County agenda instead of representing the city’s constituency that elected her into office. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she is being coached on what issues to bring up before city council and how to vote on those by Jose Landeros, a County employee, that is likely the proxy between Ordaz and Vince Perez, a county commissioner. On its face, this is highly unethical and likely, a violation of both governing bodies’ codes of ethics.
The question that remains is whether Jose Landeros is being paid with county funds to coach Claudia Ordaz during city council meetings. Landeros, who works for Vince Perez, should be focusing on county related business while on the payroll. If Landeros is on the county payroll while coaching Ordaz then that raises the further question of whether his activities constitute political activities, which would be a violation of various ethics rules/laws from the county on up to the state level. Working on behalf of Vince Perez also may embroil Perez on ethical issues as well.
The MPO Issue
The texts prove that Claudia Ordaz posted the MPO issue on the agenda for political reasons. Many of us have speculate that it was to keep her boyfriend, Vince Perez, as the chairman of that body. This is still likely a part of her agenda. However, the text messages prove that Claudia Ordaz targeted Cortney Niland and Michiel Noe through the MPO posting on the city’s agenda for her political benefit.
Misuse of City Resources
In a March 25, 2015 text message to the city’s City Manager, Tommy Gonzalez, Claudia Ordaz asked the city manager for a “favor.” Ordaz asked the city manager to have code compliance take down her opponent’s campaign sign at a street corner on Zaragosa. There are numerous problems with this request.
First, Claudia Ordaz, an elected official who is in the midst of a campaign, asks her employee, Tommy Gonzalez to task one of his departments with removing her opponent’s political sign. This is a clear ethical violation and likely, it is also a misuse of her official capacity as an elected official. Additionally, she is interfering with the electoral process in what amounts, at the very least, an ethical violation but could also rise to the level of violating the election code.
Veronica Escobar is very engaged with Claudia Ordaz as evidenced by the text messages. In “Who is Paying Claudia Ordaz?” I connected some dots for you between who is funding her campaign and what the possible motives were. In that post, I clearly laid out that Claudia Ordaz was being funded by individuals living outside of her district. I pointed out that about 85% of her campaign funds came from outside of her district.
According to the text messages, Claudia Ordaz acknowledges that Veronica Escobar raised much of her campaign funds and helped her in her campaign. Tie that in with the other Escobar cohorts, Susie Byrd and Eliot Shapleigh and you can clearly see the public policy agenda that Ordaz supports.
The Future of Claudia Ordaz
There is no future for Claudia Ordaz. Assuming she survives the numerous ethical and possible criminal issues revealed by her text messages, the fact remains that Ordaz has no future in El Paso politics. You may have noticed that at yesterday’s city council meeting, Claudia Ordaz was late and was not present for the majority of the time that council was in session.
This is because Claudia Ordaz has destroyed any working relationship she may have had with the other elected officials. Very few, if any, will work with her now that her behind-the-scenes shenanigans have been exposed. None is likely to trust her. At this point, it will be extremely difficult for Claudia Ordaz to collaborate with the rest of the elected body. Without a working relationship with city council, Claudia Ordaz cannot effectively function for her constituency. They are the ones that will ultimately suffer.
Not only do the text messages show an intent to publicly damage Michiel Noe and Cortney Niland but also they conclusively show that she did so at the expense of the taxpayers of the city. City council was used as a pawn in the political gamesmanship being perpetuated by Vince Perez and Veronica Escobar. At the very least, it is highly unethical.
How any other city representative can respect her now is beyond me. Combined with the MPO issue, the city manager raise debacle and now her complete disregard for decorum, respect and just plain decency there is no possible opportunity for reconciliation with her colleagues on council. About the only thing Claudia Ordaz can do now is resign. Many would applaud that decision.