Find out exactly what's wrong with government run health care right HERE.
At least nobody smells. There are about 7 people that are flipping crazy. They're definitely going to get picked.
I wish they would let us spread out a little bit.
The blind lady at the end of the aisle is talking loudly to no one in particular. I guess she's bored because she didn't bring anything to read.
They just took a section of jurors out. They are going to court. They are screwed.
We've done roll call nine times already. Instead of saying "here," I've been saying "beer." Apparently nobody finds that quite as funny as I do.
I took my boots off. I'm trying to 'out-crazy' the others so I'll be picked. I could use a few weeks of seclusion. Besides, I may get to write a best selling book on the case I'm hearing.
I just saw Perry Mason walk by.
I just realized that there are more people sitting in this room than voted for Emma Acosta. By the way, rumor has it that she was a total pain in the ass about the budget process. So bad in fact Rachel Quintana actually told her to get her shit straight. Emma, the retired garbage queen, was apparently all over the new garbage queen's ass over the $2 million deficit that department is running. That's down from the more than $20 million it was running when Emma was blowing her nose with our tax dollars.
We just did roll call again. The little guy calling the names spit out his dentures saying my last name.
I have to send my readers of to a post on a blog called "Tastes Like El Paso." My buddy Jay Koester over at the Times featured the blog on his site last week.
The latest post by the folks over at Tastes Like El Paso absolutely destroyed the arguments made by Ken Park in his EP Times' guest editorial. You can find that lame attempt at pulling the wool over you eyes HERE.
Tastes Like El Paso does the math and embarrasses the pants off of Ken Park. When you read the post realize that the services the City Provide are 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Here's the post.
Here's what Newspaper Tree cut out of my article that is running as their top story right now even though they have only promoted it on one email blast over the weekend. My content never gets the promotion of the other writers, but I still hold the top spot for a few days.
In fact, they've never "NPT Special" where they publish 10 of my past articles even though I have something near 25 that they have published. Obviously my views are very welcome over there, but they feel that I actually get some clicks so they stick with me - edited, though.
Here's the link to what Newspaper Tree put up http://www.newspapertree.com/opinion/2687-want-money-for-college-earn-it
Here's what they cut....
I’m most disturbed by our (tu) Senador’s earlier request that UTEP graduate more students on time and his apparent “about face” on that issue.
As you may know, UTEP has very few students who enter as a freshman at the institution and after four years flat, graduate. There are lots of facts that play into our low graduation rate and most of them have something to do with our very unique student body.
Our (tu) Senador had such a heartache over the low graduation rate at UTEP he passed a bill in the 78th Texas session (2003) S.B. No. 286, the “Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Sunset Bill.” The bill created a nine member committee that would oversee all the state funded colleges and make sure that they all reached a certain graduation rate goal by 2015.
Mind you these new graduation rate requirements did not come with one dime from the State to help reach those goals (unfunded mandate). Every school lagging behind their arbitrary goal had to raise tuition immensely to pay for the recommendations from that committee. That’s why UTEP’s tuition has gone up in the past few years, just in case you wanted to know.
A couple of years after S.B. No. 286 was passed things hadn’t turned around at UTEP so Shapleigh fired off a letter to the Chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents. You can read that letter here http://www.shapleigh.org/system/news_article/document/309/news309.pdf.
In that letter Shapleigh identifies UTEP’s “open enrollment” policy as a reason for the low graduation rate. “Open enrollment” means that there are very few barriers to being accepted by a university. UTEP will give just about anyone a chance.
Something is wrong here.
Remember this paragraph from the El Paso Times’ piece:
“Under the recommendations, Shapleigh said, about 20 percent of the students at the University of Texas at El Paso who received the TEXAS Grant last year would have been ineligible for the program.”
If Shapleigh had gotten his way in 2005 these students wouldn’t even be able to attend UTEP today. The TEXAS grant would be a moot point for that 20 percent if UTEP had adopted higher enrollment standards as Shapleigh wanted them to. Like the University of Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M, UTEP would have standards way above just being in the top half of your class or scoring in the bottom third nationally on the SAT.
Let me break this down for you.
• Shapleigh wants to increase the graduation rate at UTEP
• He cites UTEP’s low standards for enrollment may be the problem
• Shapleigh is disgusted that a college grant program would require some kind of minimum standard in order to receive free money to go to college – a college he thinks needs higher enrollment standards.
UTEP is required to have a graduation rate of 20 percent by the year 2015. Our local Senator is fighting to keep sending kids who have proven themselves to be poor students to UTEP for free. If a kid can’t even manage to scrape together the minimum effort suggested by the proposed guidelines, why would we want to send him or her off to UTEP to contribute to their graduation rate problem?
Maybe you've noticed the change in the weather around town. This is the second day of the rain and I'm going nuts. I'm not cut out for the indoors. Modern TV sucks beyond explanation. You've heard it the saying a thousand times, "100 channels and there's nothing on." It's true.
All this idleness got me to thinking about who's to blame for the weather. Every major weather event goes through five phases:
1. Pre-storm media freakout featuring 24 hour coverage of something that has not happened yet.
2. The storm
3. Post-storm media freakout featuring 24 hour coverage of illiterate rednecks talking about the damage to their trailer.
4. The blame game
5. Made for TV movie
Number four is always the most interesting part of the cycle because everybody has someone to blame for the storm. That stage features very serious people saying ridiculous things.
I'm going to save everybody some time and present to you stage four for our recent storm.
The Sierra Club is obviously blaming global warming.
The local church crowd is blaming the gays.
Democrats blame Bush.
Republicans blame Clinton.
Communists are blaming capitalists.
Capitalists are blaming communists.
The Anarchists are actually taking credit for the storm.
People on the Westside are blaming Mexico.
People on the Eastside are blaming people on the Westside.
Rachel Quintana blames her new assistant.
Senator Shapleigh blames ASARCO.
Ray Gilbert blames the PSB.
The Tiguas blame Sen. Cornyn.
Segundo blames the Paso Del Norte Group.
Did I miss any?
I submitted an article I wrote to Newspaper Tree about the recent hoopla over the TEXAS grant program. The first thing that was cut was the part where I detailed how our (tu) Senador Shapleigh contradicts himself. The excuse was that the stuff negative to Shapleigh's pristine image didn't fit and made the article too long.
Meanwhile in the article I totally bash myself for being a complete idiot when I was younger. It's not like anyone thought to cut out the part where I call my self stupid and immature. But, God forbid I go back and find where Shapleigh clearly contradicts himself! On the record nonetheless!!
It's typical of the news media here in town. They are all scared shitless of Shapleigh. The second somebody writes something bad about him he starts harassing them. He gets on the phone and gets his buddies to start harassing that person too. They send out an email to their list requiring all good democrats to write a letter to the author, reporter or whomever telling them that they are wrong and they will not buy their publication or patronize their sponsors.
The folks over at Newspaper Tree are most sensitive to this because they really think their readership is made up of mostly Shapleigh Campers. Too bad they have no idea how many Shapleigh haters they have reading their stuff.
The last time anyone wrote anything nasty about Shapleigh was during the last session when he voted against the budget with the medical school funding in it. The EP Times has the balls to do it, but backed down shortly there after and let Shapleigh run a 1,000 word guest editorial full of bullshit. They never challenged him again.
Be comfortable knowing that you'll never get the truth on Shapleigh anywhere but here.
Here's the info - http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_9964921
I wonder if people are going to still think this is a good idea after getting their new tax bill or are they going to stand by their decision to increase their taxes in order to build the hospital (longest sentence ever written).
The proponents of the hospital did admit that our taxes would have to slightly increase to pay off the bond that was approved to build the building itself. However, they spent most of their time driving home the point that this facility will not be a longterm tax burden. Once the building is built and the bond is paid they wouldn't need any more tax money.
So I get four calls from people this morning screaming about the article in the paper. They say they were tricked because the hospital supporters kept saying that the new hospital wouldn't be a new tax.
I guess they are just dumb. Nobody votes for a bond issue and expects that it's not going to cost them some money. No wonder El Paso has bad leaders - the voters are easy to trick!
David Crowder wrote a nice piece on the $1 BILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY PLAN. Sorry about the capital letters, but I wanted you to imagine a big booming voice saying those words. After all, this is a big damn deal. Read about it HERE.
If you click on the little links at the bottom of the article you can see some maps with explanations as to what projects are slated for where. It all looks pretty cool if you ask me.
The only problem I see is the proposed toll lanes. They'll never be used. I know they aren't tolling existing lanes. I get it. BUT, there's no way more than maybe two percent of El Pasoans are going to shell out the money to drive in lanes that are right next to free ones going the same place. Just won't happen.
El Pasoans will never spend money on something they can get for free. Go to the free bridge sometime. It's backed up to Mexico City and you'll burn $50 in gasoline just waiting to get over, but it's free! Meanwhile the pay bridge is a quarter of the wait and a mere pittance for the convenience. You'll never reason with a "freebridger" that it's actually cheaper to use the pay bridge.
It's no big deal if people would rather take another route or one that may or may not have trucks on it instead of paying a toll. They are free to do as they please. I just hope the people who came up with plan weren't relying on the tolls to fund the rest of the projects, because they won't.
Years ago I submitted a slogan for a contest being held to give El Paso a nickname. I submitted "Free Shit City." I did not win. I did, however, get a letter from one of the judges saying that I was an asshole, but right.
East Texas people have been conditioned to use and enjoy tollways. Cities like Dallas and Houston had suburbs grow so fast that toll roads were the only immediate alternatives to the Farm to Market roads that surrounded the major metropolitan areas. Now, twenty plus years later the toll roads in Houston are twice as crowded as the free roads and people are now paying for the privilege to sit in traffic. It's a kind of Ironic, or coincidental, situation.
I'm glad they are trying news things here in El Paso, but toll roads just won't work. We're too much of a common sense kind of town when it comes to paying for something you already have access to for free.
We're cheap, we're not in that much of a hurry and we're not as stupid as Lou Dobbs would have you believe - We're El Paso.
In article below I asked where Jim Valenti's supporters were hiding since this "Cartel Casualty" issue came up.
I incorrectly asked where County Commissioner Veronica Escobar was in reference to a unified media front. Well she was in two stories.
On another note - News Channel 9 (KTSM) has a crappy website.
I didn't pay much attention to an opinion piece in Sunday's El Paso Times until I read it again today. You can find the column here http://www.elpasotimes.com/opinion/ci_9934719.
Jim Valenti, CEO of Thomason Hospital is having a hard time with the constant transfer of wounded men from Juarez to Thomason. This poses a severe image problem for the hospital he's in charge of. El Paso voters are taking note of the care and are asking to see who's paying the bill for the care and security of these cartel violence victims.
Obviously Valenti has a job to do - run a county hospital. Part of that job is PR. Most El Pasoans don't realize that a Thomason is the place you go for free or almost free medical care. Free to the patient that is. The taxpayer picks up the bill. The less the taxpayer feels like he or she is picking up the bill, the better things are for Mr. Valenti.
Now that likely voters in the El Paso area see a steady stream of new patients from incidents that took place in Mexico they're leaning on Valenti more and more to stop it. Even if these victims do have American citizenship that does not mean they are paying for their own care. We are picking up their tab for something they did to get themselves shot in another sovereign nation.
The sad reality is that we've always spent millions on medical care for those who are victim of Mexico's social, political and financial realities. I have no fear guessing that millions of our tax dollars go to care for Mexican citizens and even more millions going to care for Americans pretending to be Mexicans.
Valenti knows that the public interest in who's footing the bill for the cartel casualties will eventually lead to an audit of something they call "indigent care." The public will find out that our "don't ask, don't tell" policy for citizenship at the hospital has led to widespread fraud. Now you have Americans saying they are Mexicans in order to receive free care. I should know, my workers have explained the whole scheme to me and I have a friend who is a resident over at Thomason who backed up their story.
Here's how it works:
Step 1: Require medical treatment, i.e. be sick.
Step 2: Got to Thomason emergency room.
Step 3: Pretend you don't speak any English (you don't have to do this, but it's recommended).
Step 4: Tell them that you don't have an address or identification.
Step 5: Sit and wait to get treated for free (you can't bill someone who has no mailbox to send a bill to).
You see, at step four the person processing you can't ask you to prove who you are. They can not put a barrier between you and seeing the doctor because you are not from this country. They can't even hint at your citizenship or the hospital will be sued faster than that patient can be seen by a doctor.
Mr. Valenti's number one job is to protect that scam from public scrutiny. Valenti has to somehow curb this drug war patient transfer business before the ankle biters start poking around at the hospital trying to find out what's going on. But why would Valenti want to hide this scam? It's simple.
Valenti works for the County of El Paso when it comes down to it. His future boss is County Commissioner Veronica Escobar seeing as how she will run for, and win the County Judge seat. She's Senator Shapleigh's "vote at the county level" that he needs to control in order to feed his base voters free stuff. He also need Escobar to do battle with his bitter enemy, Rep. Norma Chavez. Both women are popular in the valley.
Escobar is not only a shoe-in for the County Judge spot, she's managed to pack the Thomason board with other Shapleigh Campers who will do whatever he says, when he says. Valenti knows who "signs his paycheck," if you know what I mean. He will protect their hidden scheme at all cost. Wouldn't you for a few hundred thousand a year?
The Shapleigh campers are lovers of illegal immigration and the drug trade. Shapleigh and his band of liberal followers think that lower valley voters agree with him. They figure that as long as they have the lower valley votes they can hold onto power. After all, Shapleigh only won his race against Margo because the lower valley turned out for him.
Part of the Shapleigh strategy is to make sure that these people have 100 percent free health care. I've been there in the valley when one of his surrogates was promising the continued practice of "don't ask, don't tell," at Thomason in exchange for their vote. If this program goes away so does the candidate who promised it.
Like I wrote above, Valenti knows the score. He probably has a personal problem with the way things are at Thomason because he is a businessman. He came from the business sector and understands the game. However, the controlling party holds his employment in their hands and he's going to do what it takes to keep his big paychecks coming in. Even if that means covering up a huge misuse of taxpayer dollars to care for the victims of Mexico's shitty way doing things and our tolerance of it.
By the way, where are all of Mr. Valenti's political friends in this time of need? Escobar, Shapleigh and the board have all been rather quiet on this issue.
Where's the outrage?
Where's the support for their water carrier?
Poor o'l Jim Valenti has to go out there and fight this all by himself and in the end he'll get the boot when we all find out what's been going on. So sad.
Yesterday we talked about the EP Times' "about face" on school taxes. They all of a sudden are worried about how much money ISD's are spending and who's watching the budget.
Today they are patting City Council on the back for spending $15,000,000 to save $2,000,000. Tell your wife you want to do something like that and watch how fast she's on the phone with her mother telling her what a moron you are and how she was right about you from the start.
You can read the opinion piece here http://www.elpasotimes.com/opinion/ci_9901007.
Anytime you start your column with,
"Taking out a loan may not sound too advisable in these troubled financial times."
you know you're about to write something completely idiotic.
There was another option for the city in this case. They could have simply asked the utility companies to charge them less or else the city would jeopardize their franchise agreements. No change except the price of the energy you are already consuming. No need to worry about changing lights, retro-fitting existing structures to incorporate "green" technologies and no change orders.
Change orders? Yeah - change orders. Companies like Franklin Controls will practically give away their "study" in exchange for the contract to make the changes. They estimate a cost for the city and the city accepts it. Two months down the line Franklin Controls comes back saying that in order to put the LED traffic lights on our existing poles they're going to have to rewire each one at a cost of $10,000 per pole. That's a change order.
Then they may figure out that the motion sensor lights don't work because there's too much natural light coming and the cubicles block the sensor and they simply don't work. So they'll need to go ahead and install ceiling mounted "master sensors" that will run the city another $20,000 a floor to install.
This thing is a boondoggle that could have been avoided. The city could have simply put the pressure on the local utility companies to lower their price. It would be as simple as asking the electric company to identify something they may want of the city's in exchange for a reduction in rates. It happens all the time every place but El Paso.
This thing is such a bad idea the "no crew" even voted for it. My buddy Steve Ortega should have been a little suspicious when Holguin and friends voted "aye" on the measure.
I guess we'll just have to be content with more loans that need to be paid. Something tells me that if you don't have enough money to buy something, you shouldn't be buying it. I'm talking about living within your means. Financing is all well and good, but we Americans have borrowed ourselves backwards and it's not healthy.
For now - the city staff can work in the dark. It's restful and calming as well as a money saver.
I swear to God the EP Times' editorial board and staff are made up of the greatest political flip-floppers in history. If you read long enough they will completely contradict themselves over time.
The latest example of their tomfoolery is this opinion piece they printed today http://www.elpasotimes.com/opinion/ci_9890668.
They just found out that the bulk of your tax bill goes to the ISD's. They also figured out that nobody bothers to say anything about their budgets. I guess since the paper is just figuring out where our tax money goes, that most little o'l El Pasoans have no clue either. Maybe that's why nobody is looking at the school district budget.
The contradiction they created was that they were so gung ho for the EPISD bond issue last year they nearly crapped themselves trying to promote it. I guess they had no idea that it would raise their taxes or that those taxes were already pretty God damned high! Now they are not quite calling for an audit, but almost.
Where was their inquisitive brain last year?
We financed computers for 30 years! Computers that will be trash in four! That's a part of our inflated tax bill!
The EP Times was hearing none of that! If you dared asked a question about the bond issue you'd be called a mean spirited, child hating son of a bitch. After all, the $200 million plus bond issue was "for the children." God knows you stop everything you are doing and you run right out and vote for anything as long as it for the snot nosed, spoiled little brats.
Screw fiscal responsibility! We're building a "media room" for our kids so they can learn about whatever it is they learn about in a media room. Oh wait... turns out that "media rooms" and "multi-purpose" rooms are just places where teachers can dump their kids in front of a movie for a couple of hours while they sit around debating the sexual orientation of the superintendent. I'm glad we paid for that!
I no longer question why we are so stupid here in El Paso. Our biggest English language newspaper, and the main source of news and information for thousands of El Paso is no smarter or informed than the average guy on the street.
Do like the EP Times says and try to get your nose into the school budget process. God knows they aren't going to do it themselves. The teachers and administration will threaten to boycott their advertisers if they go do their job and look into the school budget.
I take that back - don't go poking your nose around. You'll only be told that the superintendent needs 50 assistants and 30 assistant superintendents so that the kids will get a better education.
Don't remind them that each year they are given more money and their scores decline. They'll tell you that it's the parent's fault.
Keep reading the EP Times they're always so good at poking fun at themselves.
I just got a little note from my media feed that oil is down to $139 a barrel. This is somewhat good news I suspect. But why is it happening now? Good question.
The rise in oil prices is basically due to the idea that demand is out running supply. Speculators are "betting" on that reality by actually buying up expensive oil hoping to sell it for an even higher price later. Today they aren't doing so well. Especially if you bought a few thousand barrels at $145.
OPEC and other oil cartels along with oil producing countries have found a way to sell their oil at a very high price. They've created a bidding war knowing that the United State is completely reliant on it and China and India are about to be the same way. They control the output thus they control the price.
What happens when we threaten to take control of our own output? They try to scare us out of it. Hence the sudden drop in the price of oil after President Bush announced that he was going to lift the "Executive ban" on offshore drilling.
You have to understand that Bush's move on the offshore drilling is only part of the action needed to get it really started - Congress still needs to act. If the oil producing cartels and countries can lower the price enough over the next few days by spreading news that they are going to pump up their output they can probably convince Congress to table the issue. Of course, as soon as Congress says that they won't act, the price of oil will go right back up.
The last thing these oil producing entities want is the United States providing itself with its own oil close to home. It's cheaper to bring a barrel of oil from off of the coast of Florida to an American refinery than it is from Saudi Arabia. We can do it for cheaper and they know it.
Real action on ANWR and the offshore drilling will be held for just before the election. Both parties know there is nothing to gain politically by making a move this far out from election day. Voters would forget their good work by November if they acted now. There's no sense in helping us out unless there's a usable political payback, right?
That's the sad state we are in. There is no confusion as to why the prices are high and what could be done to lower them. The media goes along blindly believing that this is "a complicated" matter requiring lots of different kinds of solutions. We know better. It's just a matter of political timing.
Come October we'll make the move in Congress to open ANWR and drill off of our coasts and the price will drop quickly. The oil producing cartels and nations can't afford the competition. A $60 barrel of oil will still make them plenty of profits and keep the Americans buying. We won't have to actually drill in Alaska or off of the coast of Florida, we'll just have to threaten that we might.
This will happen again and again in our future. We're only getting dumber as a society and becoming less likely to think about the solutions to problems than we are to bitch about them.
I understand that we are much larger than these cities and most of these are dependent on a larger metroplex. They are suburbs to the city. That shouldn't keep you from looking at the stats and then looking at ourselves.
What categories do we need to improve in? Where should we focus first?
Joe Muench, Columnist for the El Paso Times had a good column this weekend. You can read it HERE.
I like his thoughts on the certain political factions in town. It something that the democratic party never talks about in public. Reyes, Chavez, Shapleigh and Jones keep their deep dislike of each other held closely, but we all see it.
The only issues I have with Muench's column is that he overstates Shapleigh's power, understates Reyes' and gives Chavez way too much credit.
1. Shapleigh has become so polarizing and patronizing that many of his minions are backing away from him. Some of his mantras/ideas are becoming so for out there that it's getting hard for his followers to claim him.
Representative Byrd, Ortega, and O'Rourke are all in trouble right now for their progressive ideas. Being "Shapleigh Campers" isn't helping their cause. In a time when citizens are seeing red over tax bills it's probably not a good thing to attach yourself to the guy asking for more and more taxpayer funded entitlements. Ortega and O'Rourke have made a clear effort to try and be their "own guy" for a while now.
Shapleigh is also making a few enemies by his unwillingness to give credit to others. He calls the Paul Foster School of Medicine the "Medical School of the Americas," knowing full well that that is wrong. This does not bring favor to him from the big money guys in town. Shapleigh thinks he can rely on the Mission Valley to vote him into office and doesn't need the power players with all the dough.
He's dead wrong. Chavez runs the valley and she hates him. It's curtains for Shapleigh if he has to rely on the Valley to win from now on. Not even Veronica Escobar can save him.
Shapleigh does have his eye on Reyes' congressional seat, but was dealt a severe blow when our congressman was named chairman of a major committee. He'll just have to wait.
2. Norma Chavez is a match head doused in gasoline. She's popular with the voters, but isn't making any friends among the other politicos in town.
Muench indicates that newly elected Marisa Marquez and Chavez are on speaking terms - they're not. Norma Chavez reportedly flew into a rage when she found out that Marquez was being courted by the Shapleigh campers and was seen hanging out with them. Marquez is not an ally anymore.
Chavez's "fight first, fight second and ask questions third" style is absolutely the reason she's so popular in El Paso. We love a good fight and she delivers.
Chavez will always be a force on her own, but will not sustain political relationships. She's way too reactionary to create calculated longterm relationships with other powerful people.
She will run for or congress or Shapleigh's seat. Either one would piss Shapleigh off and that's fine for her. She has a real problem with Shapleigh constant need to take credit for everything.
Chavez obviously has a score to settle with Reyes because he ran his sister against her. You don't challenge the queen for the crown unless you're ready to be hunted down and dealt with.
Chavez can win a congressional race with her east side and lower valley popularity. She'll only last one term in congress. Washington will eat her alive, unfortunately.
3. Reyes is on his way out. He has most of his family sewed up in nice Washington jobs and the few that are left here in th region are great at extorting money out of people using Reyes's office.
Reyes wants out of the game. He's got a nice place in DC and when he retires that's where you'll find him. He's got nothing left to win here in El Paso. He walks away a champion much to the dismay of Chavez and Shapleigh.
4. The Jones network is almost dead. Luther seems to be able to slide in his candidates in low turnout districts like east side. His success won't last that much longer. Besides, there's no cold hard cash being exchanged anymore so the fun is all gone for Luther and his buddies. What's the point of having an office if you can't make some cash off of it?
The next big faction will be conservative and it will come in on a wave of tax frustration. There will be lots of "converts" ready to make a huge change in their political affiliation. Their pocket books will finally squeeze them over to the other party. Who will be the next political "boss" in town?
Looks like a certain administrative assistant on the 10th floor will not be around for Secretary's Day next year. Rumor has it that this is the third such assistant to go through that specific office recently and this one is leaving without two weeks notice!
I'm not going to say exactly which council member is burning through our local workforce, but her name rhymes with "Smachel Ventana."
Folks below the 10th floor are telling me that she has been trying to hire random people off of the street. The rumor is that when she's riding around town on the bus hanging out with her beau (that's Hollywood speak "boyfriend") she's conducting interviews. Sometimes those people can't even pass a simple background check (warrants).
That little drama got me to thinking about 10th floor staff and how come City Council wasn't required to cut the fat? If you know the City, you know that much of the assistant staff is gone all day and only serve to spread rumors and gossip about each other and their bosses. Why can't they be cut?
Why do the departments that actually provide services to the community have to be cut?
What function are the staffers up on the 10th floor really serve? Can an answering machine do their job?
Who's in charge of doing the hiring? I looked at the city charter and it seems that the assistants actually work for the City Manager. Shouldn't she be the one hiring them?
I hope someone can answer these questions. If you do have the answers, just leave them with my assistant!
Here are five foods I dislike.
1. Potato Salad
I'm pretty sure the only problem I have with potato salad is the little piece of celery they put in it. Celery is what you put in food when don't want people to enjoy it. I don't mind the other goo so much as I do the damn celery.
I'd be remiss if I didn't ask why people don't simply ditch the potato salad and go to the most popular potato dish of all time. Why not mashed potatoes? The base of the dish is potatoes and a shitload of butter (shitload = 3 sticks per medium sized mixing bowl). You can then add cheese, garlic, bacon or any other hosts of goodies. The one thing not called for in any mashed potato recipe is celery.
2. Tuna Salad
I honestly don't know what's in tuna salad, but it's gross. I'm pretty sure it has celery in it too.
Might as well give the vegetable its own number on the countdown. I can remember as a kid in daycare (yes, I both abused and abandoned by my parents daily) they would attempt to get us to eat celery by dipping it in peanut butter and put raisins on top of the peanut butter. They called this "ants on a log." I often indicated to the day care staff that I would rather eat real ants off of a real log than stick celery in my mouth.
It should be noted that later on in my daycare career I was able to successfully convince the Peter Pan Peanut butter company to take an official stand on the practice of mixing celery and peanut butter. Peter Pan wrote a letter to all daycare centers saying
"Stop screwing up our product by serving it with celery. Our product should be shuttled to the mouth with either toasted bread or a spoon."
The famous "egg pie" I hate so very much. Nothing says gross like a pie made up of eggs and spinach. Served luke warm and either in pie form or miniature pie form it's never a crowd a pleaser. The only reason anyone ever eats "egg pie" is that it's mysteriously always served alone. It's as if "egg pie" made some deal in the international food union stating that it shall be served alone. I'm no too sure potato salad didn't make a similar deal for picnics.
This food shares its name with a terribly fat and untalented singer, now actor, from the 70's, and oddly tastes what I imagine he would taste like - nasty.
Meatloaf is much like the tuna salad above, I have no idea what's in it and I don't like it. Anything you have to smother in something else (think celery) to enjoy is a bad food. I'm referring to everyone's inclination to put ketchup on meatloaf.
I'm more fond of canned "meat product" than I am of this food. I have a hard time understanding how meatloaf is considered "comfort food." I'm not comfortable eating a blob of some kind of ground meet with random thinks like onions in it. My mom's penchant for making meatloaf with bell peppers is the only reason I moved away from home to go to college.
Please don't get upset if you like these foods. I'm not attacking you, I'm attacking the food. Do not take my dislike for celery personally. No matter who you are, I wasn't think of you when I was think of these foods.
The other day I asked the question
"Who may have broken the law by handing out of a certain kind of invitation to city employees? Bet you can't guess who it was and what kind of party they were throwing!"
Well the answer is Representative Emma Acosta.
Here's what we know right now. City Representatives received invitations through the mail asking them to attend and contribute to Acosta's "retire the debt" party. I have not confirmed whether the interoffice mail system was used to deliver these invites. If so, that's illegal.
I have heard that staff did receive the invitations. There are ethical questions about city employees being solicited for campaign contributions by someone who is their "superior," even though the City Manager does the hiring and firing now.
If you have any more information I'd like to hear about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smachel Ventana did not contribute to this article, but we're hoping she will.
Newspaper Tree carried Senator Shapleigh's speech he gave today on border security. Go read the article HERE.
You will find my comments in BLUE. Shapliegh's comments are not in BLUE.
"Good morning members, it is great to have you here in God's Country. Today, the committee will be taking testimony on illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and the surge in cartel related violence in El Paso’s sister city, Ciudad Juarez.
Funny that Shapleigh's okay with this being "God's Country," but when he and his ACLU friends get together they decide the birth of God's first and only child shouldn't be mentioned in public. Pandering?
"As of today, more than 500 people have been murdered in Juarez this year. About 80 percent of the murders are related to the drug trade.
Yeah? And? That's 500 drug related murders in Mexico and 0 (zero, nada, nil) in El Paso. What's the problem here we can solve?
"The violence has included kidnappings, car-to-car shootings on boulevards, and innocent bystanders being pelted by machine gun fire in broad daylight. The violence has even spread to the tourist zones.
Now we know your are lying! Juarez has a "bar zone" where underage kids would go get hammered and then drive home. Tequila craving teenagers are not "tourists." Tourism in Juarez was dead a long time before the cartels started playing Crips and Bloods in the red light district.
"The horrific and escalating violence in Juarez, Mexico, underscores the importance of having a well-funded, coordinated and competent Texas border security program.
No, the horrific and escalating violence in Juarez, Mexico, underscores how well our ICE, DEA, Border Patrols and National Guard are doing at stopping the drugs.
"One of the most important challenges facing this committee is coming up with an effective and proven approach to curtailing the violence and bloodshed that stems from the drug trade. Recently, the National Drug Intelligence Center released a "Situation Report" showing that Mexican drug trafficking organizations operate in 195 American cities. Our challenge is now the nation’s challenge.
Let's remember this "195 American cities" comment because he's going to completely contradict himself using this statement before this is over.
"As a fifth generation El Pasoan, I support Rick Perry and David Dewhurst’s efforts to provide safe streets and strong communities in every corner of Texas.
Bullshit. You hate those guys. If it makes you feel any better I think Rick Perry is an ass too.
"Border communities such as El Paso have the most to win or lose by the right or wrong approach to border security.
There's a statement that says absolutely nothing if I ever saw/heard one. You could have started speaking Japanese here and nobody would have missed a thing.
"According to Mexico and anti-narcotics experts, the drug war, led by the Juarez Cartel, has three fronts: battling rival cartels to the East, fighting cartels to the West, and neutralizing the anti-narcotics forces within the Calderon administration.
And this has what to do with American soil? Why don't you outline the struggles the Chinese Triads are facing while you are wasting our time.
"The best model is a tried and proven model, such as the successful joint local, state, and federal efforts in New York and Sicily to disrupt international Mafia operations in the 1980s. To succeed, Texas law enforcement must have the will to fight, to identify who we can work with, and to stay the course.
That model you speak of is what the "Patriot Act" was taken from. If you hate the "Patriot Act" so much why are you using it as your best answer to this problem? I thought it was "un-American."
"What we need is an effective, targeted Department of Public Safety (DPS) team aimed at arresting key cartel operatives, forfeiting cartel assets, and disrupting corridor movement of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, all in coordination with local and Federal law enforcement.
Can you say "unfunded mandate"? It's also a little hard for these guys to drive over to a FOREIGN COUNTRY AND ARREST FOREIGN NATIONALS. Other than that, it's a wonderful idea.
"Our great state should move quickly and confidently to establish such DPS teams along every major north-south corridor.
You keep talking about "unfunded mandates" here. We can wish in one hand and shit in the other and then we'd have a Shapleigh plan.
"One key to success is community-based policing—and community-based policing does not work with local immigration enforcement. To succeed in our Border communities and in major corridor initiatives, we must take great care to avoid the racial profiling violations of earlier border security initiatives in Texas, such as Operation Linebacker, that targeted innocent mothers dropping their children off at school.
Your thoughts on Operation Linebacker are not true and are completely unsubstantiated. You can not produce one woman or child that had this happen to them. Not a single one. Your only problem was that you were mad at Sheriff Samaniego for not supporting you so you threw a fit.
Community based policing is a bullshit way of you saying, "let's not do shit about this problem other than have lots of meeting to talk about it."
"As you will hear today, local law enforcement in El Paso believes that community-based policing can succeed only if the community trusts the police. Mixing local law enforcement with immigration enforcement creates a climate of distrust where the color of one’s skin determines who will, and will not, be stopped. Today, El Paso is the nation’s third safest city, so we believe that our community has much to share with others on the right strategies to keep the peace. Ultimately, immigration is a federal issue, and the expertise and costs should reside there, not in Border communities or state budgets.
Guess we can't stop brown people for fear they may get mad! We can only hope that all the drug dealers are white!
Oh wait... Immigration is a federal issue and this drug importation problem isn't? Well Mr. Shapleigh just a few paragraphs above you indicated that "Mexican drug trafficking organizations operate in 195 American cities." That sounds like a federal issue to me as well. Why the hell are you suggesting we spend money at the state level when this whole thing - by your own admission - is a federal problem? You must think we are all stupid!
You are a man of political expediency and you contradict yourself and lie most all of the time when you open your mouth.
"With bold and courageous leaders we can accomplish both objectives—protecting our national security and the rights of our citizens. From Theodore Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy, our nation has demonstrated the capacity to maximize the security of Americans without sacrificing our basic freedoms—regardless of who you are, where you live, or what happens to be the color of your skin.
Ask the folks who were involved with the Bay of Pigs if o'l Mr. Kennedy was "bold and courageous." This was one of the weaker JFK cards I've ever seen pulled.
You Mr. Shapleigh are the biggest threat to our rights and freedoms.
"With that I close, and turn to our expert witnesses for their help in crafting the right approach to battling the drug trade, enforcing Border security, and maintaining safe streets in all of Texas."
I wouldn't be so nice when introducing the expert witnesses who are about to make your look like the liar you are.
You published this speech in Newspaper Tree because you knew that your drug cartel and illegal alien loving fans would be so happy with you. The rest of us think you are delusional and ridiculous and that's why already have a candidate to run against you. El Paso is not a cartel and illegal immigration loving town - too bad you'll find out the hard way.
I'm still looking for a picture of Larry Medina hanging with his good buddy Tony Dill. I will give $50.00 for the picture. I still need someone to sponsor an I-10 billboard featuring that picture and then one of Rep. Emma Acosta. I'm trying to make a point about the cycle of corruption in El Paso.
I'm also thinking a lot about why Medina would be on civil service. I think Emma Acosta is just a pawn in Medina's political network and he's out to get rid of City Manager, Joyce Wilson and replace her with one of his local cronies. He and Acosta plan on parading city employees they personally know through the civil service commission in an attempt to paint Joyce Wilson as some kind of evil boss. Their hopes are to get her fired.
Now for the blind item -
Who may have broken the law by handing out of a certain kind of invitation to city employees? Bet you can't guess who it was and what kind of party they were throwing!
It wasn't but a few months ago that Mayor Cook accompanied then candidate, Emma Acosta on Paul Strelzin's talk show. The love fest was hard to take for even the most loyal Strelzin fans.
Mayor Cook endorsed Acosta and praised her highly for her work with the city in the past. They touched lightly on her sweetheart retirement deal that most of you know little or nothing about the details. All you know is that it is fishy. The Mayor helped clear it up by saying absolutely nothing of substance on the issue. Why? Because he can't. That was the deal cut with the attorneys. Transparency in government is something we often talk about, but rarely practice.
I first found the Mayor's support for Emma a little baffling given that it was a well known fact that he did not get along at all with her when he sat on council as the northeast Rep. More than a few people pointed this fact out to me including a former councilperson and a few former 10th floor employees. I guess they found a way to get along, or he knows better than to mess with her after what she did to the City. Your guess is as good as mine.
So how does Emma Acosta thank the Mayor for his gracious endorsement? She appoints Larry Medina to the Civil Service Commission for the City of El Paso.
Larry has been very upset with the Mayor since he dissolved the Housing Authority board a few months back. Larry sat on that board. He's madder than guy who crashes a plane in the middle of the desert with no civilization in sight... oh wait - that is Larry!
Medina made the rounds on KHRO trashing the Mayor for his decision to get rid of everyone on the board. Not content with just running Cook down he decided to be an active participant in the recall effort against the Mayor. I know for a fact that the Mayor did not take that well.
I wonder what Acosta is thinking? There's no political expediency in this move. Medina has proven himself unelectable and rather unpopular with everyone but Paul Strelzin. The Mayor is at least sitting in the seat of power and can be a very good ally on council. This move will irk the Mayor and other council members, which will lead to the possibility that Emma will become yet another Smachel Ventana (you have to read the post below to get that joke).
If the Garbage Queen wants to dredge up all the has beens who are ADMITTEDLY TALKING TO THE FBI AND WHOSE CLOSE BUDDY JUST PLEAD IN THE CORRUPTION SCANDAL then so be it. Politics as usual in El Paso. Acosta does not bring "change" nor "hope" to this blogger/citizen/President of the Smachel Ventana fan club.
I lifted Larry Medina's resume off of the posted agenda. Click on the file below.
Oddly absent in this time-line of Larry Medina's greatness is the day that he and a plane full of architects crashed a plane on the way back from a fishing trip in Mexico. Wouldn't have been a big deal except for the fact that those same architects sought lucrative contracts with the City of El Paso and Larry was involved in handing those contracts out. Larry ended up paying for the trip AFTER officials started asking questions.
I'm so glad he's again involved with our tax dollars!
I made my way over to he Newspaper Tree this morning to find out what's going on in and around our region. I found that Fernie "the Attorney" Chacon wrote a rather scathing response to an opinion piece posted on Newspaper Tree a few weeks back. Read the Fernie Fit.
I don't agree with Fernie on this one. His friend, Representative Holguin got caught with shoes untied (I shy away from writing "caught with his pants down" given the rumors already running around the 10th floor about a certain person's sexual "adventures." I won't say her name here, but it rhymes with smachel ventana).
I'm not surprised Sito ran the piece. He needs the content and it legitimizes you when you publish hardcore negative characterizations of your own paper. It shows that you do not just sweep alternate opinions under the rug.
Of course, Sito wasn't going to let this go without a few words of his own. Read the Sito Counter Punch. I'm sure Sito was a little pissed when he read the accusations by Fernie. Sito and I have some pretty heated arguments over what I deemed as "bullshit writing scribbled by communists." He doesn't like to be pushed around by anyone from any political camp.
Instead of scoring this bout, I'd like find out from you what you think of the whole situation. Should the fight have been made public in the first place? Should Sito have rebutted the piece with his own piece? How does Smachel Ventana fit into this whole scenario?
Please let me know by commenting below.
I was reading some of the comments on a Newspaper Tree story that posted yesterday and it got me to thinking and then it got me mad. You can find that story HERE.
We have this whole idea that we need to "brand" El Paso like we are some kind of idea or product instead of a city containing lots of different ideas and products. Part of our need to brand ourselves is a need to somehow brand and incorporate our lovely neighbors to the south. Why? What have they done for us lately?
I'm sure Juarez was once a wonderful place where movie stars and chart-topping singers went to hide out and do things that weren't (and still aren't) legal in the United States. Prostitution, drugs, gambling and booze drew in all kinds of folks. You could get 16 year-old girl, some cocaine, a poker game and bottle of whiskey for next to nothing and people loved it. It's not that way anymore.
Our "bi-national" focus is something we might want to drop. We can't ignore our neighbors, but we sure as hell don't have to promote them. What have they done for us lately? They've definitely put our names in the news. The international news articles always mention that Juarez is right next to El Paso in the opening paragraph. The articles go on to describe scenes that make the results Vietnamization look like a tea party.
Why are we even spending money on a "brand" when our sister city is giving us one for free - That City Next to the One Where they are Killing Everyone.
Frankly, they do not deserve our help. We can not sell our location as it pertains to the border. We can say, "We're in the Southwest where it's warm," but we can not say, "We're right next to Mexico!" Do you see how that works?
I would rather we not be in this situation, but we are and our politicians need to stop calling for us to prop up that city. They have shit the bed. It is not our mess to clean up.
Their behavior scares people. It scares new businesses, new retirees and new residents away. They don't understand what all of us who have lived with this for years understand. As far as they know, Baghdad is statistically safer than Juarez. Nobody wants to live next door to Baghdad.
I no longer want to hear about trolleys or trains to Juarez. I no longer want to hear about bi-national "art walks." Like a family member who steals too often from your grandparents, they must be shunned.
We can talk again in the future with Juarez when their people decide that "narco-trafficking" isn't cool anymore. I might even consider opening back up to them if they can reduce their murders to around 800 or so in 2009. Until then, we should forget their name and move on.
Besides, who doesn't want to partner up with Tornillo? Come to El Paso! Get Diabetes and see Screw, Texas!
El Paso is known for its citizens who demand everything from government, but have no desire to pay for any of it. El Paso is also known as the "Capital of the Border." Granted not many people know that we are the "Capital of the Border." That shall soon change... maybe.
The City of El Paso has shortlisted two firms in the hunt for the next agency to "brand" El Paso. The news that came along with that announcement was that the City of El Paso wants to budget about $330,000 for this project. You can get the details HERE.
Why are we spending $330,000 on this? That idiot Kathy Dodson really thinks that people started traveling to San Antonio because they named it "Gateway to Mexico." That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my entire life.
White people from Dallas, Austin and Houston would drive to San Antonio to experience a little Hispanic culture. They eat the food, like the weather and visit the Alamo. It's within driving distance for the folks from East Texas. El Paso isn't.
How do I know all this? Because my in-laws are from Houston and they've been going to San Antonio for the last 25 years just for the reasons I mentioned above. I've asked them ten times what the city slogan for San Antonio is and they've never once got it near right. They even said "the sun city" several times.
You can call us whatever you'd like and spend however much money you have, but people aren't going to come here because you have a catchy slogan. With all the financial problems our city is having, I think it's more than a slap in the face to spend yet another few hundred thousand dollars on something we don't need.
A little birdie told me that the members of the Commissioner Court have been questioning potential vendors about their involvement in the FBI corruption scandal.
From what I hear at least one Commissioner claims that they ask this question of all vendors seeking to provide goods or services to the County.
Here's the hitch - they can't take the answer to that question into consideration when choosing vendors. They could get themselves (us the taxpayer) sued up the ying yang for asking that question!
When a company wants to do business with the County of El Paso there are a series of documents that you sign indicating that you are above board and a legal business. For the Commissioners to ask this question of vendors in an open forum is very questionable. The process of selection for vendors that do business with counties in the state of Texas is a very detailed. Breaking from that process can mean that the state will withhold future dollars ear-marked for El Paso.
Somebody needs to get a hold of these commissioners and let them know that while their heart is in the right place, their head is up their ass.