Monday, April 29, 2013

Is Tania Chozet Just Steve Ortega in a Skirt?

Is Tania Chozet Just Steve Ortega in a Skirt?
District 7 Candidate Strangely Resembles Steve Ortega; Comparisons Frightening
by Ben and Jerry
Chozet claims as the Precinct 3 County Commissioner, she devoted herself self full-time to her constituents and served with honesty and integrity
In the entire 9 months that Tania Chozet occupied Precinct 3 she never once initiated a community meeting with “her constituents.”  According to constituents who addressed her at Commissioners Court, she was rude, denigrating, and refused to listen. Sound familiar?
No honesty there
In true Ortega style Chozet appears to have struck a quid pro quo deal in exchange for support from the former Yucca Neighborhood Association President who is also supporting Ortega?
On her website, she states she will work hard to ensure the new recreation center near Yucca Park is delivered on-time and within budget.
Chozet is ignoring residents before she’s even elected.
Many more residents want the recreation center on North Loop around Lomaland Park because it serves more people who do not have a center.
Carolina Recreation Center is within walking distance of Yucca Park, actually on the same street. Why build something so close?
Furthermore, Yucca Park already has another bond project.
No integrity or community inclusion there
Chozet claimed as Precinct 3 County Commissioner she was the driving force behind a collaboration with the City of El Paso for Mission Trail planning.
Truth is there are multiple Mission Trail Plans – none of them generated by Chozet.
Apparently “The Plan” was to decide on one of multiple existing Mission Trail Plans. 
She circumvented Representative Eddie Holguin who actually represents part of the area and made a joint announcement with Steve Ortega who represents no one.
Nothing happened beyond that announcement.
Chucoleaks email shows no one else seemed to be aware of a “collaboration.”
No honesty, integrity or community inclusion there
More than half of Chozet’s campaign contributors are the same special interests that fund Ortega. For an attorney that worked for the ACLU, this is a 180. Her funders are heavily Republican and heavily Paso del Norte Group(PDNG)/Borderplex Alliance members (see financial report on file with Municipal Clerk, City of El Paso). What a disappointment!
The Sheriff claims she was better than the previous commissioner.
How high is that standard? The previous commissioner was convicted of drug dealing!
The County Judge claims she has the heart of a public servant. No surprise there, since Chozet rubber stamped the County Judge’s raise.
Like Ortega, apparently Chozet is an unemployed lawyer still living with her parents (see address listed on financial report and Central Appraisal District)(Ortega lived with his parents when he first ran). Now like Ortega, she has decided to become a career politician. Now, it's no sin to live with your parents, but at this stage no incumbent city council member lives with their parents -- even Ortega. She has no financial investment in District 7: does not own a home and does not rent a home or apartment.
Chozet with Rep. Suzie Byrd (right) at Steve Ortega for Mayor Rally. County Judge Veronica Escobar on stage.
Can District 7 really afford 4 more years of arrogance with no representation, no honesty, and no integrity from someone with no financial investment in District 7?

The majority of Tania Chozet's campaign donations came from15 PDNG members:*

PDNG $13,700

PSB Board Members $800

Ortegas family $400



Bill Sanders $2,000 – co-founder

JA Cardwell $2,000

J Robert Brown $2,000

Kirk Robison $2,000

Bob Hoy $1,000

Steve Fox $1,000

Ginger Francis $1,000

Rick Francis $1,000

Steve Hoy  $500

J.O. Stewart $500

Gary Hedrick $250  -

Myrna Deckert $250 – co-founder and former executive director

Jody Casey Feinberg $100

Deborah Kastrin E100  (Sister is one of primary people pushing for lower valley port of entry)


PDNG $13,700


PSB Board Members

Maria Teran $500

Ed Escudero $300

PSB Board Members $800


Ortegas Family

Marc Cioc Ortega $100

Lina Ortega $150

Roberto & Sylvia Ortega $150


Ortegas family $400


Anna Aleman $100 – executive director of FEMAP the Guadalupe de La Vega

Jessica Anna Cabot $300

Anna Cabot $100

Tracey Yellen $250 – associate of Myrna Deckert in MJD & Associates and Veronica Escobar and Suzie Byrd

Rosemary Neill $100

Eddie Sosa $100

Gloria and Charles Ambler $100

Katherine Brennand $100

Sofia Appleby $100  - executive director of Community Scholars

Veronica Escobar $100 (Ortega Friend)

Michael Wyatt $100 (Ortega friend)

Selena Solis $100 (married to Joel Guzman who is employee of Hunt and Ortega friend)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vote “AGAINST” Proposition 4: Council wants you to pay them 2 salaries for arrogance and a part-time effort

Vote “AGAINST” Proposition 4: Council wants you to pay them 2 salaries for arrogance and a part-time effort
City Uses Faulty and Deceptive Logic for Justifying Raises

Currently, the City Charter states Council’s “base salaries are increased by a percentage equal to the percent increase of the general salary adjustment, if any, given to the classified employees in the general services effective as of the date designated in the budget resolution.” This means that base salaries are increased by the same percentage the classified employees receive.

Council just received a 5% raise:

  • Representatives to $30,450 and the
  • Mayor to $47,250.

If this proposition passes, beginning in 2015, the annual salary of the city representatives would be increased to the H.U.D. median income for a family of 4 for El Paso County which is $50,500 and the Mayor’s salary would be 150% of that.

The Actual Numbers based on the 2013 HUD rate

The Mayor’s salary would increase 59% from $47,250 to $75,000 -- a $28,500 raise!

A Representative’s salary would increase 66% from $30,450 to $50,500 -- a $20,050 raise!

In 2015, the HUD rate will likely increase, so salaries will be higher.

Faulty Logic

The City says the idea behind the proposition is to pay the mayor and representatives enough while they are in office so that they can support a family without having another job.

The H.U.D. median income for a family of 4 is an inappropriate salary rate because it is for 2 earner households (for example 2 people, not individuals). Also, it is for a 40-hour work week, not a part-time, if I feel like working, mentality that plagues City Council. 

It is an absolute falsehood to portray the Mayor and the individual representatives as the sole supporters of their families.

Two income households are the norm for most families across the United States. As you will see below -- the majority of council are not the primary providers in their households -- and most are well above the median income level.

Based on the City’s logic, if married, a council member’s spouse would need to make at least $20,050 per year. If single, then they are already above the median for a single individual at $30,450.

So what are their household incomes? Do They Really Need a Raise??

Steve Ortega’s spouse is COO of Del Sol Hospital and is the primary provider of the household with a combined household income well above $100,000

Susie Byrd’s spouse is an ESL teacher and is the primary provider of the household with a combined household income at or above $60,000
Cortney Niland’s spouse is a business owner and is the primary provider of the household with a combined household income at or above $60,000.  

Ann Morgan Lilly’s spouse is a businessman and is the main provider of the household with a combined household income at or above $60,000

Eddie Holguin’s spouse is an attorney with a combined household income at or above $60,000.

Emma Acosta and Carl Robinson are single to our knowledge and both above the median income at $30,450.

Not sure what Dr Noe’s spouse does and who cares. Dr Noe maintains his private practice and reportedly puts in about 15 hours a week for the Tuesday meeting and the occasional special meeting. His City Representative salary is supplemental income and his household income is at or above $60,000.

Do they deserve a raise?

Dr Noe is the best example of why salaries should not be raised. There is no prohibition of private sector employment.

The current Charter already prohibits public employment and holding another public office. Steve Ortega thumbed his nose at the Charter and worked as an instructor (public employment) at EPCC anyway. The administration and City did not enforce their own Charter.

Mayor and Council will continue to treat the position as part-time no matter what they are paid because there is no enforceable provision or accountability measure to require they work full-time and actually earn the salary.


Unlike the private-sector, the public is very limited in its ability to fire them for poor performance short of recall, filing a court complaint, or pray someone better runs in 4 years.

Think about it, there is NO time clock for city representatives. They cannot get fired if they work less than 40 hours a week, or in Dr. Noe’s case 15.

Higher salaries do not attract more qualified candidates.  We are not speaking about all current city council members, but this  city council attracted people with higher education but very limited earning potential in the private sector, weak work ethic-seeking status, power and influence with little if any respect for the public.

Protect the Integrity of El Paso’s City Charter. Vote AGAINST ALL 9 Propositions.


Vote “AGAINST” Proposition 3: Bars in your neighborhood - Bar Patrons parked on your street

Vote “AGAINST” Proposition 3: Bars in your
neighborhood - Bar Patrons parked on your
Is the San Francisco Historical District the Target for Prop. 3
This proposition is very deceptive because it requires voters to be familiar with future zoning changes. For that reason alone, voters should shoot this one down.

Currently the Charter prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages in residential sections of the city.

What this Proposition Does?

It clarifies that the prohibition against the sale of alcoholic beverages in “residential districts” does not apply to mixed use areas

What and Where are mixed use areas?

There is no mixed use zoning per se, there is General Mixed Use (GMU) which serves the community and typically found on larger corridors like Mesa, Montana, and Hawkins and Residential Mixed Use (RMU) which is considered neighborhood serving, is in or adjacent to neighborhoods, and allows reduced parking because they use off street parking.

Sale of alcoholic beverages would be allowed in both the RMU and GMU.

RMU zoning would have bars in or directly adjacent to established neighborhoods as well as bar patrons parking on neighborhood streets.

GMU would allow bars along corridors like Hawkins.

Isn’t this one of the problems Cielo Vista residents had with a bar on a major corridor and intersection at Montana and Hawkins?

This proposition would have horrible impact on established neighborhoods because most homeowners do not want bars in close proximity to their homes and they have made this clear more than once.

What is the City’s “Storyline”?

The City claims it is for “SmartCode” like the Montecello which may be ok because it is new and can be designed appropriately. Plus potential homeowners know before they buy there will be bars in their neighborhoods.

Unfortunately for those areas being rezoned “SmartCode,” some unfortunate resident could end up with an RMU and a bar next to their home if the owner rezones.

Since RMU and GMU are not specific to “SmartCode” it will effect all neighborhoods across the City where RMU is allowed, which is all neighborhoods.

El Paso is already among the cities in the U.S. with the highest density of bars per capita (Source).

Where do the powers that be really want to put a bars?

I looked at various places around El Paso and one stood out: The San Francisco Historical District.

Why? Currently everything around the stadium to be is not zoned so that you can serve alcohol. The nearest bar going east is SOHO. Going east is the Camino Real. And west is the Union Depot District. That may be a long walk for some to get a drink. Being a historical district, the city cannot tear it down, but they can do the next best thing – turn the neighborhood into bars.

Protect the integrity of El Paso’s Charter – Vote “AGAINST” All 9 Propositions

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Comadres at the Wall: Chisme and Rumors - PDNG Source Talks of Ortega Campaign's Black Cloud Campaign

Comadres at the Wall: Chisme and Rumors

1. A Paso del Norte Group (aka Borderplex Alliance, PDNG) source told us last week that the Ortega campaign was sweating because Oscar Leeser had taken the lead, so the Ortega campaign was starting a "black cloud" campaign.

We don't know of any polls out there, but apparently the Ortega campaign and their PR group, the El Paso Times does. However, what happened in the past week was an attack against candidate Robert Cormell.

In yet another inaccurate story by Cindy Ramirez in the El Paso Times, she accuses Cormell of owing taxes. The truth is Cormell does not owe back taxes. In 2012 Cormell and his wife bought a craftsman home built in 1910 that was condemned by the City in 2007, invested $20,000 in a 6-month restoration, and tripled the home’s value on the tax roles. As part of the purchase agreement, he agreed to pay off the previous owner’s tax debt, which is how tax sales work.


FYI to Ramirez -- a purchase agreement is like a mortgage – very few people pay cash for a house. So thanks to the Cormells, an original El Paso home is restored (remember the McFall Mansion), the City gets someone to pay the previous owner’s debt, and a home is on the tax roles at triple the original value.


And the El Paso Times wants to vilify the Cormell’s?

No wonder El Paso has a hard time getting good people to run for office. You can check out the amazing before and after pictures here

The only thing we can suffice is that Leeser and Cormell are running first and second and the Ortega camp is feeling the heat that their candidate will not make the run off. For that reason, they are attacking Cormell. Now we don't know for sure who is 1 or 2, but go figure.


You would think El Paso Times would be more concerned with Union Pacific’s timely campaign donation to Ortega and his vote to close railroad crossings. 


2. Some have reported to us that at the El Paso High School debate of El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) trustee candidates, Bob Geske derogatorily referred to Native Americans as "Indian Chiefs." If anyone has video of this, please post to Facebook.


Also of interest was that Geske does not speak Spanish, yet he wants to represent EPISD District 1 which is highly Spanish speaking. It's interesting that Geske spoke of transparency and is running on the same slate as Susie Byrd. Scary!


3. A comadre at City Hall, oh wait, El Paso Times Building/City Hall told us (wait for it), the stadium is actually too big for the site. Duh!


4. Although the Texas Education Agency investigated EPISD Lorenzo Garcia twice and cleared him twice, it seems they want to shift the blame to the EPISD trustees.


Even the commissioner Williams misrepresented the EPISD board saying that it was made up of 4 Mexican Americans and 3 Whites. It actually has 5 Mexican Americans.


This is very different from the Texas State Board of Trustees. It is made up of 15 members, 5 being Democrat and 10 being Republicans. Of those 5 Democrats, 3 are Mexican American, and 2 are African American. All the Republicans on the board -- the other 10 -- are White. Hey, that's the color they want to paint the EPISD board -- again.


5. We thought that Dr. Judy Castleberry, the TEA-appointed "conservator" was part of the daily goings on at EPISD. We were way off on that one.


She only comes to El Paso for EPISD board meetings. What is she conserving?


6. Blanca Enriquez, who is one of the appointed "managers" does not live in EPISD. She lives the Socorro Independent School District, from what we hear.


7. One White Westsider commented that Castleberry is even more out-of-touch than White Westsiders. Now, don't get on us westsiders -- we are just delivering the message.


8. Back to Judy Castleberry, we hear that big meeting where the hundreds and hundreds of people showed up, she wanted them to pick a representative to talk instead of them going to the mic one-by-one. She was steadfast. The board told her it was their policy to let everyone speak, even if it took hours. Castleberry finally relented when the board told her that they would announce her decision on the mic for the multitude to hear. She changed her mind fast.

Did anyone get this on camera?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Equality Advocates in a Catch-22: City Charter Propositions 7 - Non-Discrimination Amendment or Anti-Municipal Employee Amendments

Equality Advocates in a Catch-22: City Charter Propositions 6, 7, and 8 - Non-Discrimination Amendment or Anti-Municipal Employee Amendments
 Domestic partner benefits are not in jeopardy -- but workers rights are

by Ike and Ben
Recently a “newspaper reporter” tried to scuttle the campaigns of some mayoral candidates by misrepresenting their position on 1 of 7 amendments in Proposition 7 on behalf of Steve Ortega and some financial interests who are funding him allegedly.
The “reporter” then attempted to portray Steve Ortega as the lone ranger of civil rights riding in on his Glass Beach horse (Bill Sanders) to save benefits for domestic partners in El Paso.
Fortunately these mayoral candidates have previously stated publicly they are against all 9 Propositions because of the questionable ballot format.
  1. The ballot language does not reflect the actual language of the Charter changes so voters do not know what changes they are actually voting on or the resulting Charter language and
  1. The voters should have been given the ability to approve or disapprove each amendment without having to approve or disapprove all amendments.
Currently there is no organize effort against benefits for domestic partners and what effort there is, it is severely demoralized and in debt. What the “reporter” failed to report is that domestic partner benefits are not in jeopardy -- but workers rights are.
There is an organize effort by the City Manger Joyce Wilson and the cabal to take rights away from municipal employees. Several of the proposed amendments are very anti-worker.

Propositions 6, 7, and 8 are Anti-Municipal  Employee Propositions
Proposition 7 reduces civil services jobs. The amendment greatly increases who City Manager Joyce Wilson hires without having applicants go through a competitive process.
The amendment allows for the privatization of city jobs by allowing the City Manager to replace certain civil service positions with outside contractors.
Worker advocates have seen this privatization tactic being implemented all over the city. Proposition 7 along with Propositions 6 and 8 look like minor changes -- but they are not.
All three have a significant impact on city employees. They shift more power to the City Manager with regard to city employees especially in regard to discipline and termination.
Machiavellian Tactic
Proposition 7 may be a “red herring”. If it fails it seems Proposition 8 makes the desired changes with regard to disciplinary action and termination of city employees.
Proposition 6 changes Civil Service Commission powers to reduce disciplinary action and re-hear cases.
The city manager and he cronies are hoping people are focused on LGBT rights -- and not changes that impact all employees.
The city is very sly. They slip in a non-discrimination clause hoping that will get voters attention while at the same time voters ignore the anti-municipal workers clauses within these three propositions.

Equality Advocates in a Catch-22 
This all leaves equality and human rights advocates in a Catch-22. Support non-discrimination, but screw workers over,  or advocate for workers and not support non-discrimination. 

But again, by voting against Prop. 7, it does not endanger the fact that domestic partners already have benefits by vote of the city council. The real danger is to municipal workers.

The city manager and her cohorts should be ashamed of themselves for putting these together in one proposition.
Protect the integrity of El Paso’s City Charter VOTE AGAINST all 9 Propositions.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Proposition 2 of the Proposed City Charter Amendments Deserves a "Against" Vote

Proposition 2 of the Proposed City Charter Amendments Deserves a "Against" Vote
From giving the Fad Five Control of Who Sits on Boards and Commission to Allowing 5 City Reps at a Time to Travel on the City's Dime to Restricting Public Notice, Prop. 2 is Bad News

Proposition 2


Don't let the words in capitals scare you.


Clearly an intent to further dilute the power of the mayor and rest in the hands of City Manager Joyce Wilson. This amendment assures the cabal of continued control in the event someone from their faction does not win the mayoral position or any of the city representative slots. As long as they have majority (Noe, Niland, Lilly and whoever can replace Sucia and/or Silly Socks), they can continue to impose their agenda.

What this amendment does:

1. Allows City Council to approve leases of city property by resolution rather than ordinance. This in effect removes the 2 (or 3 ?) week public notice and hearing requirement. This was a nuisance to City Manager Joyce Wilson when she wanted to push through the property lease quickly for the Downtown stadium and could not because it had to be done by ordinance. It's away of circumventing the public by use of short (i.e 72 hour) notice.
Remember city council has council meetings other than on Tuesdays where they are voting on stuff.

2. Currently, each city council rep can appoint a of his or her choice to boards and commission. This is not ideal as we have noted (Hispanics Not Wanted on City of El Paso Boards and Commissions), most appointment are White, live north of the freeway or on the Westside, and furthermore, don't live in the district the representative represents.
This amendment makes it even worse.
Appointments to city boards and commissions by entire council circumvents single-member district representation.
The charter allows each rep to appoint to boards which is then approved on the consent agenda. If the rep is respectful of representative government then they appoint residents from their district. Anyway that is the current intent and purpose of single-member district so you don't have boards comprised of only Kern residents making decisions on recommendations for everyone else.

This amendment purposely introduces ambiguity and essentially allows a voting block to control who gets to sit on boards like the CPC and Civil Service Commission.

It is about control of representation. Some think they deserve more than others.

3. This amendment lets City Council cancel up to 7 meetings because the council has had trouble making quorum. Apparently, they want to travel on the taxpayers dime 5 at time so they cannot always make a quorum for a council meetings. Also they want to be able to cancel the council meetings during the summer when they have budget meetings. In other words -- these people do not want to work full time -- not one of them puts in close to 40 hours as it is.

Is Steve Ortega a Bigot hiding behind Gay Rights?

Is Steve Ortega a Bigot hiding behind Gay Rights?
By Ike
“A community that doesn't fight against discrimination tolerates it, and I never want El Paso to be in that category." – Steve Ortega
But wait -- Is Steve Ortega’s legacy to El Paso the legitimization of openly bigoted, hateful, divisive discrimination against El Pasoans whom he finds undesirable?
In 2005 City Council approved 2 contracts one for $250,000 and another for $50,000 of CDBG i.e. federal money to help fund the Paso Del Norte Group downtown plan. The contract specifically forbid subjecting anyone to discrimination. One of the “work products” of the plan was an immersion audit called Glass Beach. It was presented at a public meeting. Here is a slide from the immersion presentation. See

So why did Steve Ortega not “fight” against subjecting the man in the image to blatant public discrimination?
Steve Ortega’s response
“The question that I was never asked during the interview was whether the juxtaposition of the adjectives lazy and dirty with the photo of the old Mexican was offensive” (See response to Burton, Jenni. “Those Who Live in Grass Beaches,” The Newspaper Tree, posted October 2, 2006).
Does this sound like the response of anyone opposed to discrimination or with even a limited understanding of Civil Rights much less discrimination?
Instead Steve Ortega seems to provide tacit approval of invidious discrimination against those El Pasoans he considers undesirable.
“I’d rather be associated with – you know, if I’m talking about a city – Salma Hayek than with my grandfather, you know what I’m saying? I mean who are you trying to attract? From a business perspective, from an investment perspective you want the Salma Hayeks, the Antonio Banderas, the Ricky Martins, that’s what people like. That’s what people find attractive, sexy, cool.” – Steve Ortega