In this case, Jim Valenti, when confronted with an email he sent the county commissioners on August 15, 2014, he relies on technical jargon to obfuscate the truth. Valenti uses “fiscal year” as a red herring to hide his duplicity knowing that technical jargon loses most people.
Fiscal years are nothing more than starting and ending the year on different months for accounting purposes. Instead of a year starting on January and ending on December, like a calendar year, a fiscal year may start in October and end in September.
That is precisely how the University Medical Center’s fiscal years are reported; they start in October and end in September. In other words fiscal year 2013 ended on September 30, 2013.  Fiscal year 2014 started on October 1, 2013 and ended on September 30, 2014.
Understandably the taxpayers of the community are angry that Jim Valenti accepted a $120,000 bonus after the county hospital asked for and received permission to borrow money from future tax revenues to remain solvent and laid off employees recently.
The initial reaction from the hospital board of directors was that the bonuses were a contractual obligation. They then masked the issue on a comparison between the private sector and the public sector with the need to keep qualified people in positions of authority. However, when Carlos Leon released the email by Jim Valenti where Valenti writes that “there were no bonuses paid in 2014 and expect no bonuses through this year,” his own words came back to haunt him and he, and his board needed to distract with technicalities to diffuse the outrage.
Let’s take a close look at the words written by Jim Valenti.
We know that a bonus was issued to him by the board of the hospital last week and we also know that Jim Valenti authorized bonuses to his top lieutenants.
Yet he wrote that as of August 15, 2014, “no bonuses” were paid and none were expected to be paid “in 2014.”
Valenti told the El Paso Times that it was all a “misunderstanding.”
Valenti argued that his email was referring to the “fiscal year and not the calendar year.” Valenti told the local paper that the bonuses were issued in November, meaning that they were paid with monies from fiscal year 2015. What Jim Valenti chose to conveniently ignore is that the bonuses are paid based on performance and because of this it is impossible that the bonuses he and his lieutenants accepted were for fiscal year 2015 as it was only a month old meaning that either they gave themselves bonuses in violation of their contracts or their bonuses were for fiscal year 2014.
This is where the “expect no bonuses through this year” clearly demonstrates that Jim Valenti tried to deceive the county commissioners and as a result the taxpayers. Because no matter how Valenti tries to distract with technical jargon about calendar vs. fiscal years the fact is that he lied. Employees that lie to their superiors are normally terminated from their employment.
Keep in mind that not only did Jim Valenti terminate employees but he also asked to borrow money from future taxes in order to keep the hospital solvent so no matter how you look at it, the ability to earn bonuses by top executives is nonexistent in any private or public sector setting for that matter.
The fact that Jim Valenti materially lied to the taxpayers, who foot the bill from where he draws his bonus from, is more than ample reason for his immediate termination.
This is clear and for the politicians pontificating about the bonuses it is an opportunity to prove me wrong and actually do something concrete for the taxpayers by calling for the immediate termination of Jim Valenti. The commissioners control the budget and thus they are ultimately responsible to the taxpayers.
However, don’t hold your breath because there is some political gamesmanship going on behind the scenes and this controversy is only one of the chess pieces. Don’t forget that one of Veronica Escobar’s closest confidants is working closely with the Children’s Hospital, Susie Byrd and Escobar needs the viability of the children’s hospital resolved for her political future. Valenti is just one piece of an elaborate chess game being played with the taxpayers’ monies.
1. El Paso County Hospital District d/b/a University Medical Center of El Paso A Component Unit of El Paso County, Texas Auditor’s Report and Financial Statements September 30, 2013 and 2012.