Border Interfaith, the sister organization of TEPISO (I step on you), held its "accountability session" in the Upper Valley today at St.Jude's that included City Representatives from districts 1 & 8. Now just like I said in my blog about TE PISO, these "accountability sessions" are a little more tame from two years ago but still not kosher.
Now I have to admit that the "accountability session" in the east side was a tad more militant than the one in the Upper Valley. But this one still provided several memorable infractions, I mean moments. I'll start off with the blatant disrespect for campaign laws then I will go into the breakdown of the actual forum.
Below are pictures of two signs that clearly state the rules. We are in El Paso so they posted them both in English and in Spanish. So I'm thinking, the only way you could not understand the rules is if you spoke German or French. Last time I checked the German and French population was not very big so chances are most people would understand these signs. Or at least you would think they would.
We were told that no signs of any kind would be allowed inside the building. But lo and behold inside was one of the handlers waving a sign. I jumped like any paranoid blogger would and grabbed my voice recorder and video camera. Funny thing is that I pointed the video camera at the persons mouth and the voice recorder at the sign. Hey, I never said I was perfect. So I play off my blunder and get a little footage and an impromptu interview. Below you will see the handler waving the sign that says "We Want Early Mobile Voting Back".This is referring to the voting booths that were removed from churches after the city voted to remove them because the city thought that the booths gave an unfair advantage to certain groups. It is still debatable to who this is beneficial to but I'll talk about that in another mindless rant.
I asked the handler who did not identify himself if I could run to my car real quick and grab my sign. You know me, I can play dumb to prove a point. The handler tells me that I can't because campaign signs for candidates are not allowed inside the church. I told him, oh don't worry its not a campaign sign. Its a sign with an issue, just like yours. The unidentified man told me no again and then called an older lady for back up. I started my little game all over again and asked her, remember I am recording this, if anyone could hold an issues sign. She said no because the forum was a forum for their issues and that they had worked so hard to get approved in their meetings. I told her my issue dealt with immigration and I would like to wave it so everyone could see. I took a step back to make it seem like I was going to my car. She quickly told me no. I asked her why? You guys have a sign. She told me that it was their event and that they called the shots. Wow, I wonder if she would talk like that to the IRS when they are questioned about campaigning inside of a church? She said that if I had gone to any of their meeting I could have presented an idea for a sign. But since I didn't I couldn't bring in my sign. I then referred to the signs outside that said that there was no campaigning allowed on congregation property. I asked her if the signs applied to everyone or just people who did not belong to Border Interfaith? She then repeated her answer. I pointed to the voice recorder and told her she was being recorded. She said it didn't matter. So long story short. Border Interfaith is waving political signs and campaigning for an issue inside of a church. I said it before and I'll say it again. How is it that groups like Border Interfaith and TEPISO get away with breaking tax exemption laws? This has to stop! People are too scared to stand up to these groups and allow them to do as they want because they are religious groups and they do some good for the community. But just like I said before. Just because they do some good does not give them the right to break the law. Let's put a stop to the hypocrisy now.
Now let's talk about the candidates and their performance. This forum was worse than the one by TEPISO. Most of the candidates just answered what Border Interfaith wanted to hear. Then there was the candidates that didn't show up. I thought Tim Besco, Abe Peinado, Richard Jay Schecter and Lisa Elena Turner did the best thing they could have done by not showing up. But then came a certain candidate to steal the show. I'll get to that in a bit.
District one was a clean sweep so I won't break it down individually. The candidates were asked questions dealing with supporting mobile voting booths in churches, supporting police officers not enforcing laws and funding Project Arriba $300,000 even though the city has huge funding problems. Manny Hinojosa, Ann Morgan-Lilly, Lyda Ness-Garcia and Dr.Theresa Anne Ware-Asbury just laid down for Border Interfaith and answered yes to every question. Not one conservative vote in the bunch.To make things worse, Ann Morgan Lilly actually voted against the funding in a City Council vote yet said she would support it in front of the congregation. There is something wrong with that if you ask me.
Now lets talk about District 8. I'll start from the bottom up this time.
Ernesto Villanueva: He was another lay down.
Courtney Niland: I have to admit. There are candidates who are definitely varsity material and then there are some in this race that are Junior Varsity or even some in little league. Niland answered yes to the first two questions and said she would support Project Arriba and all it did but could not vote to fund it. WOW! Somebody actually said no. And she said it in a very nice and polite way that I think some people missed it. Maybe its me, or maybe its that she does so well compared to the others but I honestly have to say that she is definitely Varsity............. Cheerleader material. Sorry, I still get that from her. I don't mean that in a bad way. Its just that every time I hear her talk I want to jump up and say OMG.....GO TEAM!!!
Malcolm McGregor: I wasn't surprised to hear his answer on voting booths at church since he is affiliated with a religious group. But I was surprised at his answer about police not enforcing (federal) laws. Once again, laws are laws and we pay law enforcement agents to enforce them. He did stand up against the funding for Project Arriba so he had at least one conservative answer.
Sergio Contreras: He was another clean sweep inside the forum but he was quite different when I talked to him outside after the forum. The guy sounds half descent on issues, fiscally conservative and he has a huge entrepreneurial spirit. He seems to have a plan to help break the poverty cycle in El Paso that makes a lot of sense. Not some new off the wall idea. A simple fix for a problem that has lingered in El Paso for too long. He just has to work on taming his "Gangster Swagger". Sunset Heights in the house baby baaaaby! I gave him a couple tips on how to focus while he speaks to a crowd. Let's see if he takes my advice at the next forum. He's has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to dethrone the homecoming queen.
Jorge Artalejo: Artalejo stole the show a couple weeks ago at the GEPRW forum and he did it again tonight. A friend of mine told me to give Artalejo a chance. That I might be surprised at some of the gems this guy had to offer. I thought that was crazy at first. But tonight he had some semi-precious stones in his pockets. Many people might disagree with me on this but I don't really care. I gave the guy a hard time last go around for the now infamous chocolate bar speech. But this time I have to give the guy some credit. Artalejo, even though it was tough to understand him, was the only candidate to stand up for what he believed in and said no to all of Border Interfaith's answers. Every single answer. Even the one about meeting with Border Interfaith 60 days after if he was elected. I spoke to him afterwards and asked him if his performance was an act of defiance. He said no.He said that he answered each question individually and he answered them honestly like he was asked to do. I may not agree with the guy consistently wearing shorts to forums but I have to give credit where credit is due. I still don't think this will help him win the race or even get him into a run-off. But I think this was one of his best performances. Some of the other candidates should learn from him. STICK TO YOUR VALUES!!!!!!!