My email was blowing up Monday before the city council meeting about possible deals being brokered behind the scenes to get either Rep. Cortney Niland or Rep. Ann Lilly to move back to the seat next Limon. I got a text from a mutual friend of Niland's and mine saying she'd agreed to move back yesterday before the city council meeting. However, nothing would be said until after the meeting - if they could help it. I thought when Lisa Turner claimed that Ft Bliss' future existence was tied directly into what order council sat in, that they'd let her know.
And folks, that's just how stupid this argument has gotten. This has become, for some, a case of people who can not stand change of any kind and will act like idiots until everything is returned to normal. Seriously, everybody in El Paso needs to read "Who Move My Cheese?" The entire city has a problem with any kind of progress. They want the city to be brought back to 1955 and kept there for eternity. Although, they'll keep bitching about how all the kids leave and nobody wants to relocate a business to town.
On display here is the mayor's first crafty political maneuver since taking office, the realization of true voting bloc strength and the unexpected awareness of one's own mortality. We'll take them in order.
First, the mayor has been straightforward on everything he does. He kind of does what says and says what he does. He doesn't do any sophisticated politicking that would force council members to do something they don't want to do. Just look at the budget issues and subsequent tax on commercial property owners. He just let it go even though there was every indication he wouldn't.
In this case he was between a rock and a hard place. He agreed to both Niland's and Lilly's respective moves away from Limon. Why? Because he agreed that Limon was acting like a child and it was making it hard for Niland and Lilly to do their job. Staff has been more than happy to tell everyone that the Mayor has had to reprimand Limon repeatedly behind closed doors for her behavior both during city council meeting and outside of them.
Let's remember - this isn't a case of two people not liking each other and not wanting to sit next to each other. It's a case of one person being so audibly and physically distracting that the person next to them could not do their job. Limon was asked to stop and she didn't so the mayor let them move instead of removing her from the meetings (which we will get to).
The mayor's supporters hate Niland and Lilly. They told him not give them any other relief than the move so that it's uncomfortable for them. The mayor went that direction until Lilly put an item on the agenda and pissed him off royally. The whole saga made him look weak as a mayor and he hated hearing about it in public.
From what Lilly is saying, the mayor called her and said he get her fixed up ASAP if she removed the item. He was dealing with three members of council going after his city attorney and he didn't need this headache as well. That's when his advisor stepped in and saved him.
The price tag put on the move was to do a bunch of things that included putting computers, voting modules and microphones at both ends (might as well get them all wired at once rather than having to reprogram the voting software twice). There were also upgrades to some other equipment put in the price tag along with software licenses that were expensive. The inflated number was put out there to embarrass Niland and Lilly while still giving them what they wanted. To this day Niland and Lilly can't get a clear breakdown on exactly what the costs were. It's a great mystery!
For Limon this kind of backfired since she is making enemies left and right. Sure, Niland and Lilly look bad, but Limon's constituents don't need much of an excuse to dislike her more and this did the trick. She was getting as much blame as Niland was.
Limon, seeing her own mortality for the first time decided that a deal needed to be worked out. You might have noticed starting last week when Niland was acting as mayor for the meeting they were extremely cordial. That's because they came to an agreement - the scandal was leading to headaches for both of them. The inflated cost trick worked!
Niland has something up her sleeve - something she didn't have when she was originally forced to move. Niland has the votes to have Limon removed from the meeting and there ain't nothing the mayor can really do about it. Niland, Lilly, Romero, Noe, Acosta and Ordaz - that's 6-2. The charter allows this.
My sources tell me that Niland can go sit at her place on the dais and decide to do one of two things when Limon acts up.
1. Move one spot left with her laptop forcing a voice vote to be taken (which several members of council have begun to like because they claim it makes members really think about their votes).
2. Call for a vote to have Limon removed from the meeting.
Although, it should be pointed out that Limon has promised to behave due to the fact that she's been warned about the possibility of having her removed. She assumed Ordaz was on her side, but has recently learned that Ordaz can't stand her and may have been seeking a move as well. They have a veto proof majority and Limon is shaking in her boots.
Final thoughts -
1. That money to move Lilly will still be spent. It was budgeted. It's not like they had to raise taxes to afford the move. They clearly stated what budget it would come out of. Tax payers "saved" no money at all here. Each department depletes its entire budget or it will be forced to cut back the next year. Those of you with military experience know all about this. It is disingenuous for Niland to claim she's looking out for taxpayers here - the money will be spent. It's also a lie to claim this move somehow was an extra cost to taxpayers - it is not since it was budgeted already. One source told me that this train has already left the station and the upgrades will likely be done this year.
2. Niland should have never moved. What she should have done was record Limon's behavior on a recorder and then play it for the media. She needed to stop meeting's and call out Limon for her behavior. Child-like behavior will not respond to anything other than direct action and public embarrassment.
3. The big winner here is Niland. She takes credit, she's the martyr and in the end was the person with the solution. The move really bothered no one until Ann Lilly had had enough. You can't say the year they had swapped seats was some how detrimental to council. And even when Lilly did move it made no difference in council other than how they looked on camera - lopsided.
4. The other winner is the Mayor. He looks like a guy who made a deal to keep the peace.
5. The big loser is Rep. Limon. Only a moron like Martin Paredes thinks she's innocent here and that's because he's paid to write nasty things about Cortney Niland. Everybody with a brain knows the score and that she's just a mean woman with a behavioral problem. If she's not recalled, she'll lose by a landslide and we will all take joy in her political death.