Most of you look at corruption as a trade of money for favors. However, it is much more than that. Legally, corruption can be prosecuted even if no money was exchanged or lost by a government entity. Consider the digitizing contract that resulted in jail terms for Luther Jones and Gilbert Sanchez. The County never issued the contract and neither Jones nor Sanchez received any money from the County as a result of the contract being issued. As you can see by that case, corruption can be prosecuted even it is only an attempt to corrupt a process.
The problem with El Paso is that corruption is so engrained into the culture of the city that corruption isn’t even noticed when it is very evident in almost all government entities.
Consider the issue of the “selective enforcement” of the laws. I can offer you many examples of how certain individuals are prosecuted for minor violations while others, that are connected to powerful individuals, are seemingly immune to prosecution. As you know, Ann Morgan Lilly has been accused of assault twice. The documentation has been provided and yet, both times her case vanishes into thin air.
The thing about corruption is that the warning signals are all over the place but are missed by the general population because either the news media doesn’t spend the time to investigate it, or they part of the corruption in the community.
When Bob Jones was the darling of the news media, the chambers of commerce, the nonprofits and the government officials and even the local newspaper didn’t want to look too deeply into his businesses. If anyone asked a simple question, they were ignored, silenced or criticized for asking the question. Bob Jones was not the darling of the community because of his business astuteness but because he gave money to all those with their hands out. Of course, the money had strings attached to it.
I never met Bob Jones personally, however I was approached by others asking me to meet with him because he was the person to know if you were in business. By no means am I an astute businessman, but being in business since 1991 means that I have had some success, however small.
Like many others, I questioned Bob Jones’ business model just by superficially looking at it. It just did not make any sense to me. I had no direct knowledge, I just knew that the amount of money did not justify the business model being used to create the money. I had one individual that lobbied me to go talk to Bob Jones because Jones was looking to get into the technology sector and my business might benefit from that.
The individual told me stories about flying up to Washington with Bob Jones on a jet, being wined and dined, and returned to El Paso, all just to see if a business relationship could be developed. I asked the individual a simple question; “how does he make his money?”
“Through set-aside government contracts” that only he can get because of how he set up his business. “Only he can get” was a serious red flag for me. However, the individual was insistent and so I Googled Bob Jones. The results were clear; Bob Jones had left creditors in Houston holding the bag on millions of dollars. The business environment is difficult in a litigious society, like the United States, so being sued is something almost all businessmen go through. The more successful the more lawsuits that are likely filed against you. However, in the case of Bob Jones, it looked like he skipped out on his creditors.
The next time I met with the insistent individual he told me something that immediately made me decide never to do business with Bob Jones. The individual told me how proudly Bob Jones told him that he was “only paid a dollar a year” for his work at NCED. Incredulous, I asked well, how does he pay for his jets and the money he hands out. The individual responded that Bob Jones told him that “set up a trust fund” that gets paid for his work. As a matter of fact, Jones set up various trust funds.
That told me everything I needed to know and I refused to have any more conversations about meeting Bob Jones to see if we could be in business together. The rest, as they say, is history.
For many years there were various individuals asking the same question about Bob Jones and they were ostracized, ridiculed or just marginalized as a “crazy.” The problem is that no one wanted to seriously look at Bob Jones because it meant they might lose the money he was giving out.
I was a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as the El Paso Chamber of Commerce for many years, I was under the illusion that you needed to be active in the community in order to grow your business. I soon learned that the Hispanic Chamber, like all other chambers, do not bestow “best of” awards on individuals because they are the “best” at what they do but because it is assumed that the awardee’s name will generate much needed donations to the organization.
As a member of Digital El Paso, the initiative to offer free Internet in El Paso, my ideas to offer certain services or deploy certain WiFi hot spots were routinely rebuffed because my suggestions did not make anyone money. I once offered to give every resident in El Paso a free email account. This was during the time when companies, like Walmart, were converting to electronic job application submissions and many in El Paso did not have an email account.
I offered my company’s resources to host the email accounts, free of charge. My proposal was heard and then quietly shelved with any explanation. I believe it was shelved because no one was making money from it.
I can give you many more examples but I believe you get the gist of the problem. It relates to the seemingly lackluster response to the political shenanigans between Tommy Gonzalez and Larry Romero and the street repair controversies.
Consider for a moment that if the various examples were about Cd. Juárez government officials, then the general outcry in El Paso would be – it’s corrupt! The El Paso news media would be gleefully posting editorials about the corruptness of Juárez as a result of the examples.
Not in El Paso.
The problem is that corruption has become such a way of life that either people shrug it off as something they have no control over, or they simply do not understand it is corrupt.
Like Bob Jones, there are numerous examples of things that just do not fit in a society governed by laws. They range from the Gonzalez-Romero and Ann Morgan Lilly examples I shared above, to ongoing events that are happening under the radar with certain individuals in El Paso.
The problem is that when someone attempts to point it out by asking a simple question, the usual retort is “prove it or shut up.” As many of you know, I was sued by Larry Medina because some individuals were calling him corrupt on one of my websites. Many argued that he wasn’t and so several individuals celebrated when he sued me.
Because the corruption is so engrained, most are unwilling to consider that corruption exists in their midst.
So when I point out that the El Paso Children’s Hospital was created on a dubious business model from the onset, individuals, like Veronica Escobar, are allowed to continue to tell you that “this time it will be different” with few individuals questioning how is that even possible.
The ballpark stadium process was tainted from day one. The only conversation most want to have about the ballpark is that people are going to the games.
Whether that is true or not does not negate that the process was tainted and as such it was likely corrupt. Yet, the news media retorts with “but there are not smoking gun” emails in the thousands of emails that were forced to be released under various open records requests.
Again, I can go on and on offering you lots of other examples but most of you have already read them on my blog.
I realize that this post is rather long, but with my two previous posts and this one, I wanted to set the ground work for something I have been working on that has implications for an El Paso governmental body, one, or more politicians as well as global implications involving international political intrigue and even death threats.
Because of the length of this post, tomorrow’s post will be a quick synopsis tying the broad strokes together as well as letting you know what politician and governmental entity is connected to allegations of corruption, death threats and even Mexican political intrigue.
On Monday, I will tie everything together for you in a detailed post.