As if the Larry Romero scandal wasn’t enough to end the year with, there is another issue that has taken the back burner of public scrutiny. It is the UMC-El Paso Children’s Hospital merger that not only has already cost you money, but will likely cost you more well into the future. On one thing everyone agrees is, is that it was the board of the children’s that drove the children’s hospital into bankruptcy. I also believe we can all agree that the boards of University Medical Center (UMC) and the children’s hospital are the mechanism by which you are excessively taxed, as they are the gatekeepers to the decisions that end up costing you more money in the long run.
Since we can agree on that, then we should all be able to agree that those who serve on the boards should be the best the community has to offer. Then why is that Miguel Fernandez has been deemed the best that El Paso has to serve on both the UMC and children’s boards?
Public scrutiny requires that all aspects of an individual be identified and quantified to select the best from the best. Although, in the United States, the notion is that all are presumed innocent, the reality is that an arrest is an important aspect to keep in mind when selecting individuals to represent the interests of the taxpayers.
As you know, Miguel Fernandez was arrested on a driving while intoxicated charge on September 17, 2015. At the time of the incident, Fernandez was already a member of the UMC board. Subsequently to his arrest he was appointed to the children’s hospital transitionary board.
Although presumed innocent, the fact remains that Miguel Fernandez is currently under criminal indictment. Is this really the best time to make this appointment?
I realize that many of you equate a DWI arrest as nothing more than a traffic violation. It is unfortunate that this mind set exists but it is what it is. Like all alleged crimes, there are degrees of severity. Even in speeding violations there are instances that speeding can result in a simple ticket to an actual arrest just based on the speed the driver was driving. Driving while intoxicated also has levels of severity.
In the State of Texas, driving while intoxicated is a crime when the blood alcohol content of the driver is 0.08% or above. When the blood alcohol content is greater than 0.15%, the offense becomes a “High-Bac aggravated DWI” even for a first-time offender. This level of blood alcohol makes a Class B misdemeanor into a Class A for a first time offender.
It is also very important to note that although the presumption of innocence is assumed, in the prosecution of driving while intoxicated, there are sobriety tests that are administered that makes the presumption of innocence almost moot, except for lawyerly manipulations. Scientific chemical analysis for blood concentration are proof that is factually correct and difficult to ignore.
In the case of Miguel Fernandez, the court record shows that Fernandez was arrested by an El Paso police officer, after the officer saw Fernandez speeding (48 on a 35) on North Mesa. After pulling over the 2015 BMW X5, the police officer noticed the “strong odor” of alcohol on Miguel Fernandez and performed a Standardized Field Sobriety test on him.
After failing the field sobriety test, the officer placed Fernandez under arrest and requested that he take a breathalyzer test. According to the criminal complaint, Fernandez refused to provide a breathalyzer and thus the officer requested a warrant for a blood alcohol test. The warrant was issued and Fernandez’ blood was tested.
As a result, Miguel Fernandez was charged with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.15%. In other words, aggravated DWI, under the State of Texas laws. Keep in mind that the blood alcohol content was determined by a chemical analysis that is normally hard to dispute on court, making the presumption of innocence highly suspect at best.
Although presumed innocent, is this really the type of individual that should making decisions on your behalf on how to spend your tax dollars at both UMC and the El Paso Children’s Hospital?
Or is this indicative of how corrupt the community is that this simple question isn’t even asked anymore?