As many of you already know, I filed ethics complaints against mayor Dee Margo and outgoing city attorney Sylvia Borunda-Firth on the heels of her retirement/resignation/firing fiasco. We’ve come to expect an episode of amateur hour every time the City mishandles these situations.
With news reports revealing low marks on Firth’s most recent evaluation by city leaders, it is more than obvious she was likely fired.
For appearances sake, mayor Margo felt it was his mayorly duty to privately meet with Firth without City Councils’ counsel, and work out the departure details on her contract in such a way that she leaves with her reputation intact and without threat of publicly dumping loads of dirty City laundry that can sink the political careers of several people currently in leadership positions at City Hall.
No matter how Margo handles the situation, he cannot get away with rewarding her for substandard services by finagling a taxpayer subsidized parting gift of $125,000 to sugarcoat her exit.
This just adds insult to injury as city leaders continue their financial onslaught of El Pasoans with their recent approval of an additional tax burden of $80,000,000 in certificates of obligation, their continual wasting our tax dollars litigating the sure-to-fail arena and the citywide average 7% property tax hike that is slamming almost every homeowner as I write.
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But getting back to my ethics complaints…
Remember the El Paso Inc. story titled “Mayor Margo Sitting on Ethics Revisions” dated March 19, 2018?
It refers to the appearance that the mayor is stalling on making long awaited changes to the El Paso Ethics Code that would allow the El Paso Ethics Commission to review ethics complaints that are filed against City leaders, among several other desperately needed revisions.
Many of these changes were called for following the unethical and complete mishandling of ethics complaints I filed against Mayor Leeser and 4 council members back in December of 2016 for an obvious walking quorum.
Potential ethics violations committed by Firth such as:
1) Firth made sure that the El Paso Ethics Commission was not able to review my complaints which IS THEIR JOB and the reason for their existence. The El Paso Ethics Commission is tasked to review and render decisions on local ethics complaints such as mine, without the need to waste taxpayer dollars seeking outside counsel.
2) Firth engaged in an unethical conflict of interest by ruling on my complaints, even though she represents city leaders, rather than referring my complaints to the El Paso Ethics Commission or to “unbiased” outside counsel. I awarded her with an ethics complaint for that unethical maneuver.
3) Firth twisted and manipulated legal language to her own ends which earned her another ethical complaint filed.
What we are seeing now as she quickly makes her way to the exit door at City hall is a continuation of her systematic pattern of abusing legal contracts and language to suit her and the City’s agenda, with mayor Margo’s helping hand.
They have worked and re-worked her contract in real time right before our very eyes in a vain attempt to give her a taxpayer funded severance payout of $125,000 when the contract plainly stated that she can ONLY receive the severance money in the event she is FIRED (many are saying that the payout amounts to “hush money” and that is not entirely out of the realm of possibility).
So if the past is any indication of how the present may unfold, here is what I believe will happen to my valid ethics complaints against Margo and Firth:
The interim attorney will make every effort to steer my ethics complaints away from the El Paso Ethics Commission that should be reviewing them as their job description states.
They will also handle my complaints the way Firth did by personally making a ruling on my complaints rather than sending them to the EP Ethics Commission or to outside counsel which is an unethical conflict of interest. Who knows, maybe he/she will have learned by Firth’s incompetent decision and do it right this time around. If not, the interim city attorney can expect me to file an ethics complaint against them for the unethical mishandling of my complaints…as I’ve been known to do.
If they do manage to circumvent the El Paso Ethics Commission and send it to outside counsel, it will more than likely go to the Bojorquez Law Firm in Austin which essentially protected Firth and city leaders when I filed my ethics complaints in Dec. 2016. My complaints were tossed out even though most El Pasoans knew it was a clear violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act based on public evidence seen through various news media channels.
This is why mayor Margo is in no hurry to improve the ethics code. He, along with our biased city attorneys have plenty of loopholes to exploit as they did with me, in a continuing effort to evade punishment for unethical behavior.
And this latest episode of city government at its worst just proves my point. They continue to make every effort to torch our tax dollars in unethical, if not downright corrupt ways.
Once again, city leaders have attempted to slip this abuse of power past apathetic El Pasoans.
Those days are coming to an end and city leaders who continually abuse the public trust will be held accountable.
Take a deep breath, something’s rotting in City Hall.
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