The Politics of Corruption and Open Records Rhetoric
Typical El Paso politicians, the discussion item posted by Emma Acosta asking to limit access to open records requests turned into a comedy of backtracking and cover your behind for a politician looking to run for the mayoralship soon. In a professional environment, Acosta’s item would never had made it onto the agenda. Even if it had, it would simply have been deleted with a simple statement of a misunderstanding or even no statement at all. Agenda items are routinely dismissed by the city council during the mayor pro-tempore’s last minute adjustments to the agenda. Any professional would have simply argued that she made a mistake and moved on. But not in El Paso.
Emma Acosta defiantly tried to make herself out to be the guardian of the people’s telephone numbers and the expert on laws that are not keeping up with technology. Acosta’s item clearly asked for a discussion and action on limiting access to public information under the Texas Open Records Act to individuals with criminal cases involving moral turpitude. Under pressure, Acosta pointed out that moral turpitude includes computer hacking.
Anyone that has followed El Paso politics clearly understands that there is only one El Paso political blogger that has pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges. It was also acknowledged that Jaime Abeytia recently filed open records requests with Acosta’s office. I have been clear in my writings that Jaime Abeytia is a hired political gun. Even then, I have never advocated that his criminal past prevent him from the rights afforded to everyone in El Paso.
Limiting the public’s right to access public information should never be an item on the city’s agenda, especially for corrupt-infested El Paso.
Unfortunately, that was clearly lost in Emma Acosta. Acosta argued that her item was never about limiting anyone to public information. She argued that it was about hackers receiving the telephone numbers of constituents and officials through the public information law. Acosta tried to underscore the dangers, she herself had identified, by posting publicly the private telephone numbers of Jaime Abeytia, David Crowder, Veronica Escobar, Eliot Shapleigh among others.
The point Acosta was trying to make is that releasing the phone numbers endangers the people who hold those numbers because smartphones are “small computers” that can be hacked.
In other words, Emma Acosta claimed that releasing telephone numbers publicly puts individuals at risk. She attempted to show this by her releasing the telephone numbers of government officials and private citizens.
Kind of like, a thief showing how easy it is to steal a car by actually stealing the car.
Unfortunately, Acosta just wasn’t done. Acosta made the bizarre argument that a hacker could get the information off of a smartphone and walk into a medical facility and force the phone owner to pay for the medical care the hacker receives. Yes, that’s right, Emma Acosta argued that the telephone owner would have to deal with a hacker getting medical care if the city did not take care of the problem, she had identified.
With the help of the city attorney, there was an attempt to save Emma Acosta of her own ineptitude by suggesting that what she really wanted was to have the state legislature update the public information act to allow cities to redact telephone numbers from open records requests.
The suggestion was for the city attorney to bring back a re-worded discussion and action item for city council to direct that the state legislation look into making the necessary changes to the law.
Fortunately, one city representative looked right through the nonsense. Lily Limon moved that the item be deleted and council voted unanimously to delete the item.
This was after almost an hour’s worth of public discussion on an item that should never have seen the light of day.
What is most poignant about this issue is that the City of El Paso has no business contemplating withholding public records because of its strong history of public corruption and public open records shenanigans.
Now you should be able to clearly see another driving factor to the corruption infestation in El Paso.