Monday was the first day back to work for Congress and what did several Republicans do behind closed doors?
They planned to strip the Office of Congressional Ethics of it’s powers so they can basically indulge in corruption and law-breaking without threat of ethical oversight.
They want to do what they want, when they want, how they want without the knowledge of those they have been elected to serve...with impunity and an arrogant lack of respect for the laws.
On December 19, I filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Leeser and City Council Reps Niland, Svarzbein, Límon and Tolbert.
The El Paso Times had gotten wind that they were secretly meeting behind closed doors with local historians and activists without having given us public notice.
The paper had reported on potential violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act in how these five individuals conducted their meetings with the possible intention to circumvent laws in place. Laws that prohibit city leaders from meeting privately in numbers more than four at a time in order to achieve a majority consensus.
This I believe they did, as these five were the ones who voted against placing the arena in Duranguito (a good outcome by the way, but inexcusable that they broke the law to achieve it).
When I read the column, I was angered by the audacity of our local leaders to blatantly thumb their noses at the law assuming that they can get away with it because nobody noticed or cared.
I for one, had reached my limit and spent a couple of days considering the potential collateral damage of filing the complaint.
Taking on the mayor and half of City Council publicly...well that’s just not something people do. Especially a week before Christmas.
After having discussed things with my wife Laurie and receiving counsel from knowledgeable people I trust, I went ahead and filed the paperwork and sent out some quick emails to contacts in the broadcast media. I was interviewed by local news teams throughout the day and it became the leading story on all the local television networks later that night.
Several people have told me that my complaint will likely be ignored by City Attorney Sylvia Borunda-Firth and won’t make it to D.A. Jaime Esparzas’ desk because of her sympathetic ties to the people I filed against. Others believe that there is a protected class of local people in power that get passes by other local people of influence with the power to make “things disappear or die of neglect.”
Elida Perez of the El Paso Times is updating us regularly as to what the outcome will be regarding my complaint and I should be hearing directly from City Attorney Borunda-Firth later this month as to what she determines the next course of action on her part will be.
We shall see.
So, back to the Day 1 Republican-led Congress ethics fiasco...
It immediately blew up in their faces.
Because Americans across the country decided to take matters into their own hands.
People called our Representatives in Congress by the thousands and bitched about this bald-faced attempt by our elected leaders at dodging ethical oversight.
It moved the needle and the GOP hit the panic button, reversing course.
That my friends is what it’s going to take on a local level if we want to hold our leaders accountable and see real progress that benefits all El Pasoans.
We witnessed it firsthand with the various groups that joined forces and fought against the unpopular placement of the arena in Duranguito.
Inertia and apathy have been the standard response for too long.
Let’s keep shaking the branches El Paso.
Thanks for your support.