The gift that keeps on stealing from us

The truth about the ballpark financing is finally coming out and the picture is not a pretty one.

Even though city council authorized incurring the debt,  a decision was made to not do so until after the May 2013 city elections.

The delay ended up costing the taxpayers about $22 million.

Our former chief financial officer and city manager must have been right in the middle of the mess.

The former city representative that was running for mayor in that election indicates that he did not try to delay the issuance of the bonds.

It is possible that some of the city council members wanted the issuance delayed but none of them had the authority to delay them.

As it worked out city council created the Downtown Development Corporation and gave them the authority to manage the bonds.  Our former city manager, the city clerk and our infamous former chief financial officer were designated as pricing officers and were the ones that had the authority to sell the bonds.

We should make an extra effort to tell each of these individuals how we feel about their failure.

We deserve better

Brutus

16 Responses to The gift that keeps on stealing from us

  1. good governance oxymoron says:

    Although buried at the end of the story at least KVIA seems to be trying to present the whole picture, unlike Bob Moore and the Times who refuse.

    I am glad Dr Noe finally spoke up. It seems to support Mr Gonzalez statements that other City Council representatives were upset with First Southwest’s “supposed advice” re: ballpark bonds.

    The City Council needs to remove Wilson from all boards immediately and initiate a criminal investigation into Wilson’s actions, as well as Ortega’s.

    http://www.kvia.com/news/city-council-does-not-take-action-on-city-manager-tommy-gonzalez-investigation-continues/36962632

    According to the Fulbright report, Wilson purposely delayed the issuance of the bonds until after the May 2013 mayoral election between ballpark supporter and former City Rep. Steve Ortega and then political newcomer Oscar Leeser.

    An examination of the timeline demonstrates Wilson’s decision ultimately cost the City $22 million because the market crashed soon after the city tried to sell the bonds after the delay. Wilson has tried to say “several factors” led to the delay but the report shows the City would have had plenty of leeway to deal with concerns over costs from the ballpark contractor had it authorized the bond resolution on April 30th rather than May 28th. The report states Wilson deleted the item from the April 30th meeting agenda because of the ongoing controversy over the ballpark so close to the May 11th election.

    The report also states First Southwest warned the City’s then CFO that the delay was too risky. Despite knowing of those warnings, Wilson chose to delay for the election believing there would be no harm if the city halted the process for “no more than 30 days.”

    Gonzalez has said he would not have authorized the search had he known the information in the Fulbright report because it proved First Southwest had not given the city bad advice, as was initially alleged by city representatives.

    Noe said he and other council members believed First Southwest was at fault for the botched ballpark financial deal until ABC-7 requested the Fulbright report and the council discussed it. “We were all under the impression it was the advice from First Southwest. There were rumors Wilson had delayed for the election but we didn’t know for sure,” Noe said Sunday night.

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  2. Fed Up says:

    ManintheMoon has it right – it is time to take action not only on this issue but the UMC/Children’s and the the Romero/Gonzalez fiascos and hold these city/county officials elected, appointed or hired accountable for the huge waste of our tax dollars!

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    • ManintheMoon says:

      Fed up
      The D.A. is going to try and refuse the complaints so have a video camera when filing. The D.A. cannot refuse the complaint. Next his office will try and force you to take the complaint to El Paso PD. Refuse and file the same complaint with the El Paso Sheriff’s office.
      The point off doing it this is to publicly lay this at the door of D.A. Esparza. Esparza will be forced to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor, if he does not he need to have a ethics violation brought against him at the county and state level and a complaint to the Texas Bar. Also it needs to be started now because of the election for his position in March which will cause more pressure on him to act.

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  3. ManintheMoon says:

    Please note 2 in abuse of Official Capacity and some one go file a criminal complaint with the D.A.’s office and make sure when they receive your complaint they time stamp a copy of the complaint in addition give the local media notice of filing of the complaint.
    People no one at the City is going to do this .
    This complaint is real easy to write.
    Also more than one of you as citizens file the same complaint with the D.A.’s office.
    Time to get some guts and a spine and go toe to toe with these morons if you real want to change thing in El Paso.

    Sec. 39.02. ABUSE OF OFFICIAL CAPACITY. (a) A public servant commits an offense if, with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he intentionally or knowingly:
    (1) violates a law relating to the public servant’s office or employment; or
    (2) misuses government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant’s custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.
    (b) An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor.
    (c) An offense under Subsection (a)(2) is:
    (1) a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the use of the thing misused is less than $20;
    (2) a Class B misdemeanor if the value of the use of the thing misused is $20 or more but less than $500;
    (3) a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the use of the thing misused is $500 or more but less than $1,500;
    (4) a state jail felony if the value of the use of the thing misused is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000;
    (5) a felony of the third degree if the value of the use of the thing misused is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000;
    (6) a felony of the second degree if the value of the use of the thing misused is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000; or
    (7) a felony of the first degree if the value of the use of the thing misused is $200,000 or more.
    (d) A discount or award given for travel, such as frequent flyer miles, rental car or hotel discounts, or food coupons, are not things of value belonging to the government for purposes of this section due to the administrative difficulty and cost involved in recapturing the discount or award for a governmental entity.

    Sec. 39.06. MISUSE OF OFFICIAL INFORMATION. (a) A public servant commits an offense if, in reliance on information to which he has access by virtue of his office or employment and that has not been made public, he:
    (1) acquires or aids another to acquire a pecuniary interest in any property, transaction, or enterprise that may be affected by the information;
    (2) speculates or aids another to speculate on the basis of the information; or
    (3) as a public servant, including as a principal of a school, coerces another into suppressing or failing to report that information to a law enforcement agency.
    (b) A public servant commits an offense if with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he discloses or uses information for a nongovernmental purpose that:
    (1) he has access to by means of his office or employment; and
    (2) has not been made public.
    (c) A person commits an offense if, with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he solicits or receives from a public servant information that:
    (1) the public servant has access to by means of his office or employment; and
    (2) has not been made public.
    (d) In this section, “information that has not been made public” means any information to which the public does not generally have access, and that is prohibited from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code.
    (e) Except as provided by Subsection (f), an offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.
    (f) An offense under Subsection (a)(3) is a Class C misdemeanor.

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  4. El Paso doesn't learn says:

    In the meantime, cook operates under the radar to continue tracking in bucks. He is pushing hard for a Sunland Park crossing which would be a failure because of its proximity to the NM crossing.

    He “graciously offered” his services as a consultant for the project ! I’m sure he will forget to mention that consultants get paid.

    So we have two policy screwups still expecting to continue to screwup and rake in the bucks.

    Like

  5. Helen Marshall says:

    Did they fail? What was the purpose of the delay? It didn’t help Ortega…but what else was intended? In any case Wilson is still here running large chunks of public policy…

    Like

    • Reality Checker says:

      Just because Ortega didn’t win the mayoral race doesn’t mean that the delay in the sale of the bonds wasn’t intended to help him. At the time this decision was made, the powers that be were doing everything possible to put Ortega in office. The truth of the matter is that they spent an extra $22 million to try to get him elected.

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  6. Deputy is right, but there appears to be no real accountability for those elected officials, either. We are not well served, nor have we been for too many years, by our City Council.

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  7. Deputy Dawg says:

    Unelected = no accountability. Both the manager and the financial officer positions were unelected ones. They knew that if the going got tough, they had jobs on the outside waiting for them.

    Like

    • Reality Checker says:

      Some would say that big jobs and appointments awarded to people after they leave government, partly through the influence of powerful people they helped while in government, are deferred compensation or rewards for helping those powerful people at the expense of taxpayers.

      Like

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