It is likely that many of you, if not all of you reading this today, knows that the El Paso Independent School District Board voted yesterday to initiate an audit of Susie Byrd’s political activities. Byrd, and her cohort, Veronica Escobar have taken a page out of Donald Trump’s many scandals and have labelled the corruption concerns as fake news. Unfortunately for both Susie Byrd and Veronica Escobar, their ample history gives voters a reason to be concerned.

As you likely know, Susie Byrd and Veronica Escobar have a long record working together in politics. Their political history goes back to Ray Caballero, when both worked for Caballero starting in 2001. The school district was mired in political and corruption scandals starting in 2011 with a few cases closing out the corruption scandal as late as last year.

It started with the arrest, and subsequent incarceration of Lorenzo Garcia, the then-superintendent. Garcia pleaded guilty to public corruption charges. By the time the dust had settled, almost 20 EPISD officials were implicated in the cheating scandal that was exposed upon Garcia’s arrest. In 2012, the Texas Commissioner of Education removed the entire EPISD board and appointed a Board of Managers.

Although Garcia’s arrest stemmed from a no-bid $450,000 contract to his mistress, it expanded into a fraud case of widespread accountability testing cheating at the school district. To say that the community had lost trust in the school district is an understatement.

In 2015, the state-appointed board was replaced with a local board elected by El Paso voters. Their task was to rebuild trust in the school district. Dori Fenenbock was elected and was appointed the board president. Fenenbock is now running for the Congressional seat being vacated by Beto O’Rourke. Veronica Escobar is also running for O’Rourke’s seat. Susie Byrd was also elected to the reconstituted EPISD board.

Byrd and Escobar were instrumental in helping Ray Caballero impose an 11.8% tax increase on El Paso homeowners in 2001. Paul Strelzin, notwithstanding that Strelzin was in arrears on his own property taxes at the time, advocated for the tax increase via his radio program. Some of you may remember that in 2003, Paul Strelzin sent a letter to EPISD vendors demanding campaign contributions to get-out-the-vote for the 2003 EPISD bond election. Strelzin had received a list of all EPISD vendors, including how much each was paid by EPISD, and sent them a letter asking for money for the bond election. The letter, which included the amount of money the vendor was paid, can only be characterized as an extortion letter – give us money or see your EPISD contract disappear.

Notice the resemblance between the Strelzin letter and the allegations against Susie Byrd?

It’s not as if Susie Byrd and Veronica Escobar haven’t played the gaming the voters game before. Consider that both worked to build incubators for future El Paso leaders. Think Community Scholars. The way the scam worked – funded by taxpayer monies – was to give a token job to someone that could be placed to run for office at a future date. It basically kept a paycheck, from tax monies, flowing to someone until they could be put into office. Both Vince Perez and Jose Landeros are alumni of this scam. Veronica Escobar, herself, used a paycheck from Community Scholars to keep her financially afloat, after she lost her job at the city because of Caballero’s ouster from office. As soon as the opportunity to run for office materialized, Escobar jumped off Community Scholars right into a taxpayer-funded office at the County.

You’ll remember that in midst of bankruptcy, the El Paso Children’s had money to pay Susie Byrd an untold amount of money to provide “communications” consulting services. We don’t know how much Susie Byrd was paid because, although tax funded, the El Paso Children’s Hospital was a “private” entity, immune from public information requests.

But you see, how it works, Susie Byrd needs money, so she finds a taxpayer-funded job providing “consulting” services. Ask yourself, when was the last time Susie Byrd held a private sector job that did not include taxpayer funds to pay her? You should ask the same questions about Veronica Escobar.

As a matter of fact, it is a family affair for the Escobars, both get paid by taxpayer monies. Veronica Escobar pretends to care about immigrants, while she jailed them, while her husband is paid to deport them.

Now, Susie Byrd is being paid by Veronica Escobar for her campaign “expertise.”

Last night, the El Paso Independent School District voted 4-2 to have an audit conducted on one of their own; Susie Byrd.

As much as Byrd and cohorts pretend that it is political, ala Donald Trump, the fact remains that the first board, after the public corruption scandal at EPISD removed the last board, voted 4-2 to investigate a fellow board member.

There is no doubt that there exists animosity between Byrd and Juan Cabrera, the EPISD superintendent, but it was not Cabrera who voted for the audit of Byrd’s activities.

Tied together with Strelzin’s previous misuse of the EPISD vendor data, Byrd and Escobar’s continued political shenanigans and the culture of corruption that EPISD cannot seem to shake, Byrd’s activities must be questioned. More importantly, the idea that Susie Byrd will interfere with an elected office has been conclusively demonstrated by Jim Tolbert.

You’ll note that Jim Tolbert has told anyone that will listen that Byrd orchestrated Tolbert’s election by organizing an ethics complaint against Larry Romero to make room for Tolbert. When Tolbert refused to follow the directives issued to him by Veronica Escobar and Susie Byrd, Tolbert was unceremoniously dropped by both Byrd and Escobar.

In other words, when Tolbert wasn’t playing ball, Veronica Escobar and Susie Byrd made sure he was out office so that they could put someone else in. At best, that is the very definition of political corruption.

But the most important question voters should be asking themselves today, can you really trust Veronica Escobar to represent them, ethically and effectively, or is the congressional seat just another paycheck for Escobar, and her friend, Susie Byrd?

Can the voters of El Paso really afford not to wonder?

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...

6 replies on “Susie Byrd and the Stench of Corruption”

  1. These two plus others are office doing whatever because of you. Some of you will not vote, some will vote as told, some will vote along party lines without knowing why, some of you will go into a hypnotic trance induced by party leaders, some will vote as a family member tells you. I’m surprised that some of you will go to vote without knowing who’s on the ballot.

    So don’t sit there placing all the blame on them. You know their records and still vote for them. Then fanatics are so closed minded that they will terminate a lifelong friendship over politics. Funny his some even get into fist fights. You get a criminal record, pay a fine and sit in jail. For what ?! Once the election is over, the candidates will have no idea you even exist.

    FBI, are you taking notes. Never fails every election they squeal on each other. Remember there is or was 30 officials that are or were doing time.

    Want people and Corp to come? Good luck people can read and know we are in the same spot as before. Still electing unsavory characters.

  2. Sadly Vero will get elected most likely by 5% or less of the voters in El Paso. Nope she will not go in to office on a voter mandate as some will try and claim! Vero will get the office through voter apathy in El Paso like most do who get elected to office in El Paso and El Paso County! The majority of people of El Paso and the county will once again allow a very small group of voters to decide the future of El Paso! This is what has been wrong in El Paso for decades!

  3. The tragedy here is that EPISD has become a launching pad for the political ambitions of its board members, not to mention the bond money orgy for favored vendors and a bidding contest to see who can pay the Supt even more than he makes now, when he’s actually in the office.

    No one is paying attention to the education of students.

  4. Veronica Escober should rethink running. Her interest are only in making more money and making more stories about all the good things she claims she brought to El Paso. She should be known for the large debt she has brought to El Paso. On another note, Sam Morgan on the northeast already starting not the wrong lane with wanting a damn water surfing activity at cohen. I guess so that he can fit in and have something to put on his resume. He needs to think twice because we are getting tired of not being heard. I do know that we have a problem with apathy here but there will be change.

    On another note: paul sverzbian needs to be checked out. he reminds me of an octopus with tentacles in all agencies.

  5. The Bar is nothing more than a club for individuals that game the system for themselves.

    In response to your previous post. In my opinion, the bar is the biggest cartel around. but even locally how they operate. the children hospital was as a result of legal propulsion and the bankruptcy will benefit the bars scholars.

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