I had waited to read Paul Burka's article on our local corruption scandal because I thought it was going to be a huge undertaking. I figured I'd need a sunday afternoon and some quiet time to read the article. Turns out it was much shorter than I imagined. Not very in depth if you ask me. But then again, who gives two squirts about El Paso's problems. You can read Burka's article here.
Sito Negron gave his thoughts on the article on Newspaper Tree - Sito's Article.
Burka does what I thought he would do - tries to make a connection between El Paso's constant underachieving and the corruption scandal. It's and easy connection to make from his view. Lot's of corruption plus a stuggling city must mean they are connected, right? Probably not.
We're not alone in the "corrupt local government" department. Many cities in the United States have ongoing investigations that rival ours. The idea that we are unique because we have an ethically challenged government is laughable. That's about all El Paso has in common with other cities.
I was surprised that Burka didn't fry us up until we were burnt to a crisp. His article didn't go into much detail on any one aspect of El Paso and spent a lot of time talking about our "red headed step child" existence of El Paso in Texas. I was relieved that we didn't look as bad as we could have.
I think this corruption scandal is a bad thing. I think it's even worse, in our collective minds, because of who it involves. Judge Cobos has been a lightning rod for negative attention since his initial run for office. It used to be "love him or hate him" and by the time he was heading up the Court at the County it was "hate him or dislike him a whole lot."
Opinion leaders here locally along with the media were shocked when the story broke and even more flabbergasted by Judge Cobos' "bring it on" response to the FBI. I have a feeling that if this investigation was aimed at a less controversial figure and political network that we wouldn't be so up in arms about the whole thing. The reality is that this scandal piqued our interest at first because a guy we all didn't like was going down. Now it's taken down beloved members of school boards and other politicians who enjoyed wonderful public images. The whole thing has left El Pasoans in an odd funk and wondering who's going to be next?
Our scandal is embarassing. We look a little dumb for letting these people get away this the way they did. We are out some money, but we're raising taxes so quickly the local government will never notice. We are lucky that our candidates aren't campaigning on the slogan "at least I'm not corrupt!"
The lesson we need to learn is that we need not vote for people who are members of political factions. When one faction gets too many elected spots, there's no one to watch the piggy bank and it's so much easier and profitable when you have a lot of your friends in elected government to help you.
That's not going to happen here though. We're just going to have to get better at watching those with the power.
Maybe next time Texas Monthly writes about us it will be for something more positive.