As you very likely know, Emma Acosta is running for mayor. And typically El Paso, there is the stench of corruption in the upcoming election. Acosta has been posturing for the mayoralship ever since she became a city council representative. Acosta used to be the Solid Waste Department head for the City of El Paso until she abruptly resigned while the department was under a cloud of controversy.
Earlier this month, Emma Acosta told the El Paso Times that she had never filed an equal opportunity claim against the City. She later tried to clarify the statement to the local newspaper. The discrimination claim that Acosta filed against the City was withdrawn by Acosta after she entered a confidentiality agreement with the City on May 25, 2004.
Per the confidentiality agreement, Emma Acosta agreed to withdraw her Charge of Discrimination (No. 361-2004-01668) in exchange for the City allowing her to retire on May 25, 2004 from the Solid Waste Department with a gross annual retirement benefit of $90,000. The benefit was an adjustment of her salary so that Acosta would get a greater retirement benefit from the City.
Acosta, contrary to her comments to the newspaper, had filed a discrimination claim against Joe Wardy, as mayor and Jim Martinez, as the city’s Chief Administrator and other officials at the city. Acosta complained that the city officials had discriminated against her by publicly placing blame on her leadership of the waste management department’s financial problems. The actual complaint alleged age discrimination.
When Emma Acosta first ran for office there was some controversy over her accepting pay from the City as an elected official because the confidentiality agreement, she signed, prohibited her from working for the City again. The agreement stated; “The undersigned [Acosta] furthermore agrees that she will not hereafter apply for employment at, with, or by said City of El Paso and/or any affiliated companies.”
The confidentially agreement prohibited Emma Acosta from disclosing the terms and conditions of her voluntary retirement. Acosta was also prohibited from publicly discussing the investigations of the Solid Waste Department.
The City was prohibited from issuing any statements about Acosta that was other than neutral statements. Lisa Elizondo, Jim Martinez, Adrian Ocegueda, Joe Wardy and Laura Uribarri specifically agreed “not to make any gratuitous personal derogatory remarks” about Acosta. This prohibition included comments about Acosta’s “aptitude, management skills and employment.”
The confidentiality agreement expired on May 25, 2009, five years after the agreement was signed.
Today, Emma Acosta is paid her city council salary as well as her retirement benefit from the City of El Paso.
Emma Acosta has been involved in several controversial issues at the city. These included the Lincoln Center issue, the ballpark and several other controversies. In October of 2015, Emma Acosta put forth an item for discussion and action by the city council to require city representatives to pay more for open records requests. Acosta followed that item with another on March 2016 asking that the City enact a prohibition of releasing open records requests to those convicted of a crime. Acosta targeted Jaime Abeytia with that request. Both items were not adopted by city council.
Controversially, Emma Acosta has publicly supported convicted swindler Larry Medina championing him as an ethical politician. In 2009, Emma Acosta participated in a campaign video for Larry Medina’s run for County Judge. On August 1, 2012, Larry Medina pleaded guilty to public corruption charges. He was sentenced to 16 months in jail and 3 years of supervised release.