Today is the start of early voting for the El Paso municipal elections. This cycle’s special interest is the destruction of the Duranguito neighborhood to make way for an arena. Many of you reading today’s post are going to be angry at me, but it needs to be said. The destruction of Duranguito is going to happen. It is going to happen because of the entrenched interests made up of architects, engineering firms, law firms, an entrenched bureaucracy and others that don’t have to do anything other than to fund candidates that will vote their way. And, because of a lazy electorate and lazy challengers.
I have written numerous times that the electorate in El Paso is made up of voters who vote to support the political agenda that guarantees their paychecks. Each time that a controversial item creates pushback from the community, there are those that valiantly try to organize the community to bring back fairness and sanity to the public policy agenda. But they are very few. It is the same with those trying to save the Duranguito community.
The problem, though; is that the architects, the engineering firms, the entrenched bureaucracy only needs to marginalize the elected officials that oppose them and replace them with those that will support the public policy agenda of destruction.
Like all other controversies, there are those that grab on to the controversy and run for office. But they are disorganized and fragmented. Some of them, like Jim Tolbert, make you believe that they are for honest government only to betray their true corrupt colors once in office.
As many of you who have read my blog over the years know, I like to create analysis of where the money comes from. It takes time to go through the various campaign finance reports and compile analysis for your review. It is time consuming and many times I come across campaign finance reports purposely made difficult to put into my database to dissuade an analysis of them. Steve Ortega notoriously did this during his last attempt at office.
As the adage says, follow the money.
But follow the money requires many hours of compiling data from campaign finance reports to generate the analysis. As if the shenanigans from candidate like Steve Ortega isn’t enough, I also must deal with the reports filed by inexperienced candidates who are running on a whim.
Yes, I wrote on a whim, because many candidates running on specific agenda items, like saving Duranguito or bringing back honesty to city hall, run unprofessional campaigns. They leave out important details on their campaign reports.
Take for example Jude A. “Jud” Burgess.
Burgess is running a campaign to unseat Jim Tolbert in District 2. Burgess, like Tolbert, filed an ethics complaint to get name recognition to run for office. Burgess’ ethics may be in the right place, it is hard to tell in El Paso politics.
But the reason I am writing about Jud Burgess today is because Burgess’ campaign finance report has made it extremely difficult for me to complete my follow the money analysis because he did not include the addresses for his contributors.
To write that it made me angry is an understatement!
Jud Burgess has made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for me to complete a fair analysis of where the money for District 2 is coming from. I believe, like many of you, that the money for the election is coming from those with the vested interest to see the arena come to fruition.
Now, I could have asked Burgess to send me a list of addresses and zip codes to complete my analysis. He many, or may not have them. He has sent me his complaint filings against Tolbert, and thus I can contact him.
But this leads me to the biggest issue I have with the challengers to the public policy agenda of destruction in El Paso – the lack of professionalism.
Jud Burgess filed various ethics complaints against Tolbert and others for violating the rules.
How can I give Jud Burgess a pass on his incomplete campaign finance reports while applauding him for holding Tolbert accountable to the freedom of information rules? Aren’t the rules for everyone?
I have been doing this for many years and because of that I am not even bothering to check with the Texas Ethics Commission about whether the omission of the zip codes violates any rules. The reason for this is because it doesn’t matter. The Texas Ethics Commission will tell me that it may, or may not have violated some rule, but it won’t matter anyway. This is because even if there is a clear violation of the rules, the bureaucracy is designed to protect itself from itself.
It doesn’t matter!
Candidates like Jud Burgess need to set the standard by crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s.
It is a lot of work, I know.
But if a candidate is going to demand that an elected official be held to account to the rules, shouldn’t it be the same for those challenging them?
Some weeks ago, many of you were demanding that I started posting my analysis of the upcoming elections. I wrote then that I would start as we got closer to the election.
But, I do this as a hobby. I put in countless hours adding to my database, writing, researching and creating the supporting graphics.
But when my work is needlessly made difficult or impossible because candidates are unwilling to complete campaign finance reports properly, it makes me rethink why I even bother to continue to do this.
There are very few of you willing to fight the destruction of Duranguito, but unless someone is willing to step up to the plate and prove by actions, like complete and honest finance reports, that they will do what is right for El Paso, it will be impossible to save the neighborhood slated for destruction.
It takes much work but if you want things to change, the hard work and the diligence over many years is what it will take.
That is why I keep writing that nothing has changed. Duranguito, much to the chagrin of many of you, remains on the chopping block.
As for me, this latest episode has me seriously thinking about whether it is worth it to me to continue to try to bring you analysis and information about El Paso, when very few are willing to take the work that I create and put it to good use for the community and not for themselves.