umc-taxes-15jan15When the El Paso Children’s Hospital debacle first surfaced, I wrote a blog post letting you know that the end result would be higher taxes for you. Even though I already knew a tax hike was being secretly planned by Veronica Escobar and cohorts the fact is that I did not know the full extent, and sadly, I still do not know. Unfortunately, except for the politicians working behind closed doors secretly plotting a tax increase, neither does the community really know the full extent of the tax damage that is around the corner.

Aileen Flores at the local paper has been keeping us informed about the seriousness of the issues with the University Medical Center. In an article she wrote that was published on January 12, 2015, the community got a better picture of the financial issues involving UMC. The politicians, as usual, placed the blame on the El Paso Children’s Hospital for the financial problems. They do this because it is how the upcoming tax increase will be presented to the community. It will be “about the children” in an attempt to make it more palatable. When that fails, it will become an issue about how El Paso deserves a “world-class” children’s hospital. “How can a city the size of El Paso not have its own children’s hospital” will be the rallying cry. Sound familiar? It is because it was the rallying cry behind the children’s hospital when the community was first conned into it.

Unfortunately, the tax hike conspiracy has more tools at its disposal. When the taxpayers ignore the “city deserves” a children’s hospital bluff the tax conspirators will then rely on the true-and-tried but “you voted for it” mantra.

Let me lay it out for you.

As you know, I have been trying to prove that the El Paso Children’s Hospital is subject to the Texas Public Information Act by filing a request for Susie Byrd’s public relations contract. The children’s hospital is hiding behind the fact that it is a non-profit organization and as such is not subject to open records, even though the public record has clearly shown that the children’s hospital used tax monies for its operations and launch.

This is the nexus for the conspiracy to work.

By delaying and impeding our ability to see their finances they are successfully keeping the full extent of the impending financial disaster from the taxpayers. The Veronica Escobar and cohorts’ public agenda apologists will probably argue that the Children’s Hospital is not subject to open records requests further betraying the tax-hike conspiracy.

Here is why it is important.

From Flores’ article we know that UMC “lost $60 million in revenue” in the most recent fiscal period. As expected the blame was laid on the El Paso Children’s Hospital by William Hanson, one of the individuals who needs a tax increase to remain relevant. Conveniently, we aren’t allowed to look at the finances of the El Paso Children’s Hospital. However, it is important to remember that William Hanson told the taxpayers back in November that Jim Valenti deserved the $120,000 bonus even after he laid off 56 employees for financial reasons.

Now we know that during Valenti’s bonus window, his organization lost $60 million. How is it possible that William Hanson did not know this when he, and the rest of his board authorized the bonuses? If they did not know then they are beyond incompetent. They likely knew. As a matter of fact the board authorized Valenti to ask county commissioners for permission to take out a “payday loan” to help pay bills last year for this fiscal period. Everyone knew of the shortfalls, including Veronica Escobar and cohorts.

It is your typical wink-wink arrangement made in a corrupt community. Valenti is given his bonus while the community is kept in the dark about the extent of the financial problems at UMC. When news finally comes out, because UMC is a government institution subject to open records requests, the controversy of the bonuses is history and the blame is placed back on the children’s hospital.

Let’s discuss revenues for a moment. As you well know revenues are monies you take in from the services you provide. UMC, as a public entity, is paid by the taxpayers. As a matter of fact, the auditors reinforce this when they point out that the shortfall was caused by the children’s hospital’s inability to pay UMC and the delays in payments from the Texas’ Medicaid 1115 Waiver and the Federal Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital allotments. I know a mouth full. What in reality it is are payments from you the taxpayers. As you digest this, remember that UMC is currently being penalized by these same revenue sources for making patients sicker at the hospital.

Now, let us discuss the El Paso Children’s Hospital. They pretend to be a distinct and private entity not subject to open records requests yet they use taxpayer monies to build the hospital and operate. The conspirators are distracting you with the children’s hospital when in reality the problem is that UMC is being affected by ObamaCare because the bucket-full of monies Veronica Escobar and cohorts were banking on did not materialized.

They made all sorts of promises all of these years relying on Medicare and Medicaid monies to build palaces. Now they are faced with having to pay the bills while pretending your taxes are not going up. How it that a taxpayer funded organization is billing another taxpayer-funded organization for a building that was paid for by the taxpayers? They have the gall to blame the shortfalls on them not paying their bills. How this is not double dipping is beyond me.

Of course it is double dipping but the conspirators knew that from day one and that is why they created the children’s hospital as a stand-alone nonprofit; to give them the ability to double tax you and call it a community service.

First, they need to keep everyone in line. They need to keep their secrets. They give certain administrators bonuses to keep them quiet hoping no one notices. However, they know that sometimes the news gets out so they are prepared with mock outrage and timed information releases to keep the full-scope of the problem a secret. Everyone knew there are serious financial problems at UMC as evidenced by the layoffs and payday loan authorization. When news of the bonuses leaked out everyone played their part in the mock outrage while keeping the secrets.

The most insidious part is that the negotiations about what they are going to do about the El Paso Children’s Hospital continues in secret. The taxpayers do not know the full-extend of the financial problems because it was orchestrated like this from the onset – all designed to be secret. By the time, the dust settles it is the taxpayers that will pay to keep the children’s hospital operating in secret while allowing Veronica Escobar a ready host for manipulating taxpayer funds.

The only thing we know for sure is that your taxes will be going up as a result of all of the secrecy. How many of you still think the El Paso Children’s Hospital shouldn’t be subject to open records requests?

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

3 replies on “The UMC Tax Hike Conspiracy”

  1. But it is the taxpayers’ fault, even with this information, they would vote for these politicians AGAIN or just stay home during the election days.

  2. I don’t see where Escobar created this problem. She inherited it. If there is blame to go around, it is the UMC board and Valenti and the commissioners appointed the board.

    Otherwise I agree with you.

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