Anatomy of Corruption: Another Case Study with Joyce Wilson

wilson-cvrup-042016bIn the continued quest to make El Paso the most corrupt city in the world, Joyce Wilson has given us an opportunity to analyze, dissect and explore how corruption is incubated, maintained and spread throughout the city. As I have stated before, corrupt practices is not just the criminal element of a quid pro quo. Corruption includes ignoring fiduciary responsibilities or making self-serving decisions based on what is better for the decision maker at the cost of the others they purport to serve. Not all corruption is criminal but all corruption is wrong, especially when it is at the cost of the taxpayers. As some of you know by now, Joyce Wilson issued her statement about the delay of the ballpark bond sale on Friday, late in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, by necessity, this post is long.

Today I am going to dissect the statement and the processes behind the statement so that you can see the corruption behind it.

Let me start with the timing of the release of Wilson’s statement. It was released late on Friday afternoon. Wilson, and her attorney will argue that there is no malice intended, in when and how the statement was released. The statement was released at the last possible moment because Friday is the perfect day to release unpleasant news to the public.

This is because by Friday afternoon, the news media outlets are on their weekend schedules while the community, at large, is focused on recovering from the week of work and child activities. Not to mention, the City is closed on Friday and thus it is virtually impossible to get the official statement from city officials about the document. It is generally understood that Friday is the slowest news day because no one is really paying attention. A weekend release of bad news also allows the benefit of letting the intended public message to simmer without any challenge from anyone wanting to scrutinize the message. This is because there is no opportunity to discuss the message via the mass media with opposing viewpoints. The second part of the scheme is how the statement was released.

You will notice that the El Paso Times was “provided a copy” of the statement. [“Wilson says no one asked her to delay the bond sale,” Perez, Elida S., El Paso Times, April 8, 2016] The statement was sent to the mayor and city council members, as it should have been, but it was also made available to the El Paso Times. The reason for this is because it allows Joyce Wilson, and those that support her, the opportunity to “massage” the public message through the newspaper. In other words, the newspaper is acting as the conduit to control the public perception of how the statement is publicly discussed. If the intention was to disseminate the facts, then all of the news media outlets would have been provided the statement along with the El Paso Times. The fact is that the El Paso Times, through Bob Moore, has been demonstrated to be extremely “friendly” to Joyce Wilson and thus it was assumed that they would allow her to control the public perception of her statement.

Two things are at play here. The first is that by releasing the statement on Friday, there is only one voice publicly discussing the statement, Joyce Wilson and her attorney. Public officials are out for the weekend so there is little to no official public reaction to the statement. Because the news media is on the weekend cycle, the seasoned reporters, with the necessary background about the various issues, will not be available until Monday at the earliest. In essence, the public only has one message regarding the statement for about 48 to 72 hours. This only serves one individual – Joyce Wilson.

What is the message that Wilson is desperately trying to get the community to buy into? “Nothing to see here, let’s all move on,” is the message she hopes everyone buys into. However, the statement itself has many nuances that are also trying to frame the public message for Joyce Wilson. Obviously, the message is designed to deflect away from the truth.

So let’s dissect the message so that we can see this first hand.

I am basing my dissection of the statement on the two pages that the El Paso Times released. Remember, the El Paso Times seems to be the only news media that received a copy of the statement along with the city officials. Yes, I am aware of the letter that was also released to the Times by Wilson’s attorney and I’ll get into that in a minute. But first, I do not know that the two pages published by the El Paso Times is the complete version or not, but for the purposes of this analysis, I am assuming that it is.

Wilson starts out the statement by attempting to become the victim. She states in the statement that she provided a “lengthy statement regarding this matter on August 26, 2013, which became part of the exhaustive report by Paul Braden.” Notice the use of the words “lengthy statement” and “exhaustive report”? This verbiage is designed to make the reader believe that Wilson has been cooperative from the onset in addition to creating the notion that this latest statement is in response to a scheme to discredit her before the community.

The statement goes on to state that the Braden report “is truly a comprehensive review of the bond project,” in other words, Wilson is taking the position that she is being victimized by being forced to provide a statement to a question that was answered long ago. Notice the deflection away from the important question – who delayed the sale of the bonds?

That is the true deflection that is going on with this latest scheme.

Now let’s focus on the next part of Wilson’s statement; “it should be noted that Mr. Braden, while examining every aspect of the bond sale in a thorough and intelligent manner, never questioned my statement about my decision not to post the item on the April 30, 2013, agenda.” Notice the use of “thorough and intelligent”? The word usage is specifically designed to discredit Ross Fischer. The statement follows with; “He [Braden] understood that it is a common practice not to post a complicated and controversial item right before an election.” Wilson, through the statement, is trying to reinforce that Fischer is wrong while at the same time perpetuating the notion that there is “nothing to see here, move on” message that Wilson is trying to get the community to believe.

Also, remember how I have previously demonstrated to you how corruptors work by discrediting those that oppose them? You can clearly see how the Wilson statement is both deflecting away from the central issue while discrediting the one individual that makes Joyce Wilson vulnerable – Ross Fischer.

There is much involved with the statement “practice not to post a complicated and controversial item” but for the purposes of some brevity I will not go into detail about it at the moment. I am sure most of you see the underlining attempt at deflection as well as a justification intended for those not used to critically dissecting the motives of public persuasion propaganda.

However, Joyce Wilson, either understands or was persuaded by her attorney that she cannot ignore the central question about who asked her to delay the sale of the bonds and thus, she provides an answer to it.

In fact, there was no council member who asked me to delay placing the bond resolution on the agenda.” This concise statement is an about face to the notion that Joyce Wilson has been cultivating over months that her actions were justified and authorized. This is important to note. Joyce Wilson did not have the authority to act unilaterally on delaying the bond sale because she both had a fiduciary responsibility to the corporation that governs the ballpark while at the same time acting on public policy matters under the authority of the city council. There are two parts here and both are important.

The first is the corporate responsibility to the corporation. Remember, a corporation had to be created by the city to allow the city to sell bonds that are normally prohibited by law. Wilson had a fiduciary responsibility to the corporation to act on the best interests of the corporation at all times. That means that any decisions that she made on behalf of the corporation is based on keeping the costs to the corporation as low as possible. Under Texas corporate law, a corporation is distinct and separate from the owners, or the shareholders. As such, any director acting on behalf of the corporation must make decisions that benefit the corporation. This is normally a civil matter and any legal action that may be brought forth, usually can only be filed by the shareholders of the corporation. The shareholders are a murky definition in this case because the corporation is a private-public partnership that makes the “shareholders” a murkily defined group. The first legal problem that anyone attempting to bring a legal civil challenge to Wilson will be met with the burden of proving that they have legal standing. The obvious one would be a taxpayer who was damaged by the result of the higher expense to pay for the ballpark bonds. However, that notion would likely be stymied by a legal argument arguing that the true shareholder is the City. How many believe the City would sue on behalf of the taxpayers?

Additionally, I am sure that Joyce Wilson’s attorney had much input on the phrasing of the response and the legal ramifications of them. As you can see, there is much word gymnastics in the statement led by “my request” versus “the request.”

Notice the use of the phrase, “not for political purposes” after the explanation of why the decision to delay the sale of the bonds? This statement is extremely important to Joyce Wilson’s defense and I am sure her attorney had much input in drafting it.

In addition to her fiduciary responsibility to the City’s corporation, that is the mechanism for the city managing the bonds for the ballpark, Wilson also had a legal obligation to the citizens of El Paso. This obligation is subject to criminal prosecution. This is the single most important element in this issue.

Mary Stillinger is a criminal defense attorney. Stillinger has defended individuals accused of public corruption. The use of the phrase, “not for political purposes” is likely specifically used to protect Joyce Wilson against criminal liability.

Wilson, again misdirects by using phrases like “do not have a specific memory,” “I am sure that this action was discussed by either myself or my staff with every council member” and the “delay this item was not significant.” These are carefully chosen phrases to protect Wilson as they lay the ground work for a defense strategy and further deflection and misdirection from the central issue. Again, the corruption strategy is to demonize the messenger and true to form the target is Fischer. Notice how the statement both attempts to focus your attention on the “opponents” and Fischer’s possible motives or erroneous interpretations of the law?

Demonize the opponents and deflect attention away from the central issue is the underlining strategy that was worked in El Paso for many years. It helps to add that Wilson is the target of some political conspiracy and as such it helps to have phrases like “basically sacrificed my career.” However, the legalese is at play here as well with the use of phrases like, “I would not have done anything to adversely impact the City’s finances.” Remember, Wilson’s greatest liability is the criminal aspect of politically delaying the bond sale. Civil liability is easier to offset with money but harder to pay for when someone is facing a jail cell.

You should also note that Wilson’s statement was signed on Thursday, April 7, but not delivered to the recipients until the next day, along with a letter from Wilson’s attorney that can best be described as a demand letter. Again, the next day was Friday, the perfect day for the public persuasion scheme to work.

In keeping with the strategy of deflection, the attorney’s letter attempts to place blame for the whole attention to this issue on Ross Fischer mischaracterizing statements and misinterpreting the law. Remember, demonize the opposition.

Stillinger goes on to opine about how Fischer’s interpretation of the legal liabilities for Joyce Wilson are wrong. I have been the recipient of many legal demand letters. Until the Joyce Wilson letter, I had never seen a demand letter that opines on why the legal interpretation is wrong while being as polite as possible. All of the demand letters I have seen get to the point and seldom use polite words to get attention.

Deflection and misdirection are again at play here. You will also notice the threat of “legal action” as well. In dissecting other corruption examples I have demonstrated before how corruptors, demonize their opponents, deflect away from the central issue and when those do not work they threaten legal problems. See how they are all at work here?

Now add to this the following innocuous thing. It is a little issue and one that really does not have legal ramifications associated with it but it tends to demonstrate how the scheme is designed. Look at the bottom of Mary Stillinger’s letter, in the part reserved for a list of who was copied in the letter.

You will note that Joyce Wilson, the City Council and the City Attorney were copied in the letter. What you will not find is the El Paso Times. Yet, the El Paso Times received a copy of the statement and the letter.

As an attorney, Mary Stillinger is well-versed and well-practiced in the nuances of written correspondence. Stillinger would understand that the “cc:” designation has an important meaning to it. You can be sure that Stillinger had to have known that a copy of her demand letter would make its way to the local newspaper. It had to have been part of the strategic discussion. It is not a legal requirement but someone who makes a living from writing letters, especially legal ones, fully understands the nuances of the little things. And it is these little things that eventually cause the whole house of cards to collapse upon itself in the schemes designed to perpetuate corrupt practices in the community.

Finally, Stillinger has defended those accused of public corruption in the past. Why, would someone seek her representation if they have not done anything wrong in the realm of public corruption or criminal activity?

Yes, I know some of you and especially the attorneys are aghast of my statement because some of you still believe in the notion of a legal system that is only interested in the truth. However, others agree with me that the legal system may be intended as being about the truth but in reality the legal system is driven by political necessities in some cases. Joyce Wilson was very beneficial to a certain faction of the political spectrum in El Paso and many of those have the resources and the interest to keep Wilson well protected.

It is just the nature of corruption, and Wilson’s statements allows us to see it work first hand.