This came in from Xavier Miranda:
The following link is an invitation to our community forum on the 17th of February. For your consideration.
I hope to see you at the forum.
It is with deep regret that we announce the cancellation of our Community Congressional Candidate Forum due to the Escobar and Fenenbock campaigns reneging on commitments made in November of 2017.
A public apology is extended to the other candidates of whom accepted and confirmed our invitation.
Acknowledging that the two front-runners, Escobar and Fenenbock, would be absent, our moderators reached consensus in cancelling the forum, citing the lack of fairness to the other candidates in terms of accountability.
However, these are questions I personally crafted of Ms. Escobar and Ms. Fenenbock. These questions DO NOT reflect the views of the moderators or their organizations.
Questions and Concerns of Candidate Escobar:
The financial developments at University Medical Center (UMC) and Childrens’ Hospital reflect poor fiscal management during the long tenure of Veronica Escobar on the County Commissioners Court. Recent Freedom of Information Requests have been conspicuously delayed. Will you elaborate on the negative balance currently facing these two entities?
Acknowledging that your husband, Michael Pieters was appointed as an immigration judge under the Obama Administration, yet being seated under the Trump Administration, the issue of immigration detention at our County facilities raises concerns. The commodification of immigrants perpetuates the notion of cronyism. Realizing the difference between your executive experience and lack of legislative experience, will you provide a tangible solution to this matter?
The manner in which you were able to increase the County Commissioners Court salaries was perceived as self-serving by many El Pasoans. It is acknowledged that tax increases were not implemented, yet the reduction-in-force (RIFs) of county employees was dramatic. Individuals with vast experience and corresponding salaries were pushed out; services and programs that serve our community were scaled back (austerity); and unqualified/non-certified personnel replaced those who departed in order to reduce payroll. Salary increases resulted, performance bonuses were awarded, and golden parachutes were issued. Federal funding was appropriated for contractors, rather than to citizens. This is a reflection of neoliberal economic tactics, in which austerity, de-regulation, and tax reduction for the affluent is common practice. How do you reconcile your actions with those of the Trump Administration, of which is following the same template?
A review of your campaign donations, demonstrates you are receiving funds from prominent individuals who seek to privatize our education system. You have also received donations from individuals associated with the BorderPlex Alliance, formerly known as the Paso Del Norte Group. This organization is directly involved with the razing of our City Hall and the Durangito Neighborhood in favor of stadiums and sports arenas, of which the latter has been reported as costing our city millions of dollars in financing and operation; and who is dictating economic development to our city council, making it difficult for development of solar and geothermal energy in our community. Once again, this mirrors the actions of the Trump Administration at the Federal level. How can you reassure us that you will consider community before affluent donors? What is your specific plan to address these issues?
Questions and Concerns of Dori Fenenbock
Your voting history and campaign donations have indicated a long-held support for Republican candidates. Citing an example with local implications, you donated to then-candidate Dee Margo when he ran as the Republican opponent to Texas State Representative Elliot Shapliegh. You have also been conspicuously absent at El Paso Democrat functions throughout the past 15 years. What commitment are you willing to make which reflects authentic representation of our community, i.e., family leave, single-payer health care, a livable wage, financial sector regulation, ending “endless” wars, and removing military-grade assault weapons from our society?
As an EPISD Trustee, you were made aware of community concerns regarding the toxic environmental air quality of the Bowie/Chamizal Neighborhood. Their concerns regarding emissions of toxins from idling commercial traffic at the Bridge of the Americas, as well as your family member’s metal recycling plant located adjacent to Douglass Elementary, have been disregarded. You were also involved in discussions pertaining to the re-location of the EPISD Bus Maintenance and Operation facility to the Bowie campus, thus further exacerbating the toxic air quality in the Chamizal area. Given the Federal government’s role in addressing these issues, what steps would you promote in addressing these issues? What commitment are you willing to make?
Additionally, you were instrumental in passing the $668.7 million school bond which entailed the closing of community schools such as Beall Elementary and/or Douglass Elementary; herding our kids to “mega-schools” wherein kindergartners attend with 8th graders at schools with over 1100 students; and awarding the superintendent a $45,000 raise. The dissemination of funds for the various projects have come under scrutiny, and have yet to launch. For example, making schools a Wi-Fi hub for a six-block radius, and granting internet access to families that cannot afford it. Additionally, your stated affinity for organizations such as KIPP and IDEA is of significant concern for educators, parents, and unions. Such organizations have demonstrated a propensity for diverting federal funds from school districts into the coffers of organizations seeking to profit from our children. Please outline your education platform, with direct correlation to the policies of US Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, in terms of vouchers, charter schools, civil rights processes, education funding, and education loans.
As president of the school board, you led the way in establishing the concept of “District of Innovation.” Reports and records indicate an active collaboration and negotiation with companies associated with privatizing our education system; as well as diminishing student attendance requirements; pushing for models of instruction that minimize teacher-student interaction, opting for more laptop/technology-centered instruction. Aside from the stock answer that education should prepare our children to function in a business-centered society, what is your vision for the role of education?
Your affiliation with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is obviously your prerogative, but being accompanied to their conference by EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera, while utilizing school district funds, angered many employees and parents. What is your view on a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine? Considering their border security, how do you view their model in relation to the Mexican and US Border?
Your campaign commercials quote you as a proponent of increased border security, which echoes the Trump Administration’s call for the same. Many El Pasoans still nurture familial connections that transcend borders, and endure the already highly militarized crossings. Acknowledging the drug and human trafficking that is so prevalent, what are your explicit solutions to humanely address these concerns?
Their responses will be forwarded to the public upon receipt.
Damn ‘Xavier Miranda’: those are some really good tough, up front, straight on questions for both Veronica and Dori.
So here’s a ‘question’ to add to your Children’s Hospital list. If voters had initially known at the time of the bond vote, that Children’s Hospital trustees and senior management, were going to be ‘so secretive’ about their operations’ and finances by hiding behind that organization’s ‘non profit status,’ would voters have really approved that bond?
Because Commissioners Court approved University Medical Center’s yearly budget, plus appoints UMC’s board of managers; that elected entity certainly should have been able to help guide that new Children’s organization towards an attitude of greater ‘public openness’ and ‘transparency.’
By canceling your event instead of going ahead without Escobar and Fenenbock, you did a disservice to the other candidates and the community. You are suggesting that those two candidates are more important than the others and that the other candidates alone, those willing to accept your invitation, are not worthy of your platform. So your invite to the others wasn’t really an invite. You should have let their absence of DF and VE speak for itself and put the spotlight on the candidates who were willing to appear, even if it was only one. You and the media are helping to make this race all about VE and DF.
“…Considering their border security, how do you view their model in relation to the Mexican and US Border?”
I’ve been to Israel and their border wall is very effective at keeping undesirables out. It was explained to me that their wall(s) reduced in-person terror attacks from over 1,000 per year to just a few. Really, we could outsource our border wall to the Israelis and get a product that actually works!
If they KNEW these were the QUESTIONS . . of course, they are not going to: Step Into The Lions Den.
Only simple minded people are allowed to ask simple questions that they can bluff their way thru with a double ended / ambitious answers.
All they need is for people to show up to vote that know. . . Almost Nothing . . .and just vote for the one who’s name they have seen the most on posters, billboards and yard signs.
Or recognize one of the last names as relatives or friends last names they used to go to school with.
Those with “Famous” El Paso last names will do better:
Flores, Borrego, Chavez, Martinez, Cortez, etc.
Just to provide a bit more insight, with the exception of DF , JT, and VE, I spoke personally to all the other candidates and conveyed my questions of them. These included their lack of direct community advocacy in terms of education, immigration policy, displacement, homophobic remarks, abrasive behavior which may deter effective legislation, and touting Fortune 500 experience. Unfortunately, our community did not have an opportunity for these questions to be addressed.
If concerns arise regarding this disclosure, please inquire directly of these candidates.
Additionally, the DF campaign did agree to send Chris Hernandez as their surrogate, but obviously the forum was cancelled.
The reason I had posted questions to VE and DF was that they are public figures, of whom their actions are publicly documented.
One might also wonder how much influence Ms Escobar’s spouse Michael Pleters, a former DHS prosecutor and current adminstrative immigration judge who denies virtually all requests for refugee/asylum status, will have on her immigration policy, regardless of what she says in order to be elected. Maybe not surprising that she ducked.