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Next Monday, September 12, county commissioners are set to vote on issuing about $346 million in non-voter approved certificates of obligation. After factoring the anticipated interest on the debt, the total of the new debt would be over half-a-billion dollars. The University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC) elected to bypass the voters and demand that the five elected officials on county commissioners court vote to issue the debt bypassing El Paso’s voters. The five – Iliana Holguin, Carlos Leon, Carl Robinson, Ricardo Samaniego and David Stout are expected to vote on the matter. Two of the five, Holguin and Stout are likely to vote against the issuance of the certificates of obligation. While two others, Leon and Robinson are expected to vote in favor. By all indications, Ricardo Samaniego will be voting to issue the debt for UMC saddling El Paso voters with another half-a-billion dollars in public debt. Samaniego rounds out the three votes UMC needs to issue the non-voter approved debt.

It should be noted that although Stout is “angry” with UMC officials and likely to vote against the UMC debt, Sito Negron has been acting as a gatekeeper, keeping people from speaking to Stout directly about the debt. Negron may have enough sway to have Stout vote in favor of the debt, although unlikely.

Nonetheless, Ricardo Samaniego is the key to forcing UMC to go to the voters for the funds it is requesting. If Samaniego votes against the measure it will fail.

UMC officials know that voters are unlikely to approve another half-a-billion dollars in public debt and thus they are banking on Samaniego to vote in favor of their request. So much so that there is intense pressure on organizations and others to keep Samaniego believing that El Paso’s voters are supportive of the UMC debt. Samaniego is susceptible to being persuaded not to vote in favor of UMC’s request if he sees enough voters opposed to it. Samaniego wants to run for office again and understands that if he angers enough voters he will not win another election.

Therein lies the key to defeating UMC’s measure on Monday.

If between today and Monday before the vote, Ricardo Samaniego hears from enough El Paso voters that they oppose UMC’s request for another half-a-billion dollars in public debt he will vote no on the debt.

Although there are two petitions gathering signatures to stop the debt before the expected vote it does not matter. It is unknown how many signatures have been gathered by both efforts, but regardless of the signatures if the vote takes place to approve the UMC debt, the only way to stop it would be through expensive litigation, regardless of the signatures that have been collected.

Whether the litigation is successful or not it will result in an additional expense for El Paso’s taxpayers. El Paso taxpayers’ can stop UMC’s attempt to bypass the voters by letting Samaniego know that his reelection chances are tied directly to his vote on Monday. If voters want the right to vote on UMC’s request, then they should let Samaniego know.

There is little time for El Paso’s voters to force the postponement of the debt vote but if enough voters rally publicly, they would force Samaniego to reconsider supporting UMC’s debt. El Paso voters wanting to stop the non-voter approved debt next Monday have only six days to organize and let Samaniego know that he should vote against the non-voter approved debt and let voters vote in the measure by forcing UMC to take their request to the voters.

Email and call Samaniego’s office to let him know you oppose voting in favor of the UMC debt each day this week. And, on Monday, show up at the county commissioners meeting and voice your demand that the county commissioners let the voters decide on how they want to be taxed. If enough voters let Samaniego know they want to vote, Samaniego, out of political necessity, will vote no on issuing the debt.

Ricardo Samaniego’s contact information is:

Telephone number: +1 915 546 2098
Email address: countyjudge@epcounty.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EPCountyJudge/ or https://www.facebook.com/JudgeSamaniego
Twitter channel: https://twitter.com/EPCountyJudge

Call, email and contact Ricardo Samaniego enough times this week to let him know how you feel about the right to vote on UMC’s taxpayer funds request.

Martin Paredes

Reporting on public corruption, border politics, immigration and public policy in El Paso since 2000.

One reply on “Editorial: In Seven Days Ricardo Samaniego Will Vote For Over $500 Million In New County Debt”

  1. I do not oppose spending money to help improve health care in El Paso. We are very behind the rest of the state and country in providing most medical services. However, I do not trust the leadership either at UMC or at EPCH with this amount of money. Too bad the commissioners can’t place a condition that both CEO’s be replaced by competent leaders before getting the money.

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