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Monday, June 17, 2013

It was Just supposed to be a routine election

I’ve been noticing that it’s hard to find good people to run for national office anymore because it takes a lot of money, and the likelihood of getting anything done is darn near impossible. I don’t know whether it starts at the local level or vice versa.

Our mayor ran for reelection and then withdrew after coming in second in the voting which called for a runoff. Right away, the mayor’s opponents smelled a conspiracy, and they posted their feeling on our online forum and on local Facebook pages. I certainly don’t know the reason for Mayor’s Armstrong’s withdrawal, but if I was the incumbent, after serving three terms as mayor and I was getting along in age. I would give withdrawal a serious thought after coming in second place. It’s all about that “fire in the belly.”

I’m not a lawyer, election official or one who’s the least bit interested in local politics but I do like a “whodunit story.”

In what should have been a routine canvassing of the votes and the swearing-in of the new mayor turned in an illegal vote for a forced runoff. It was withdrawn after the third-place candidate refused to participate.

It must’ve looked like a coordinated effort by David Hagen, Emmett Alvarez Josephine Soliz and Joe Truman to the Victoria Advocate because they admonished them for their illegal action in an editorial. However, that was not enough for the newspaper because they thought that the public should know more, causing them to file two open records requests. They asked for the city-owned iPads, emails, other devices and phone records of all council members from May 13 to midnight May 14 to be turned over.

I’m not sure of the official status of compliance of each council member, but I believe three members are not completely complying. This prompted the Victoria Advocate to file a letter of complaint with the Victoria County, criminal district attorney against the city council and a duplicate complaint with the Texas attorney general. That’s enough for any reasonable person to take these charges seriously.
I can’t imagine what’s going through the minds of those going through the investigation and how it’s affecting their family life and business. If the four are exonerated, then I think the paper should put the same amount of effort in printing that portion of the story.

I know that most people think that “pleading the fifth” or taking your time to explore all of your options before turning in a personal correspondence is an act of guilt, but nothing could be further from the truth. I wouldn’t turn over my personal emails or phone calls unless my attorney could get the assurances that it was an absolute must and that the scope of the search would be limited to the details of the investigation. Then there are the moments of arrogance we might experience from time to time. For example, I’m an old dude who doesn’t have the energy to pull off a robbery, so if I was pulled over and asked to pop open my trunk, I just might tell the officer(s) “sure, after I see your warrant.”

From what I’ve seen, some people are using this situation to exploit their agenda. I’ve seen the talk of racism come to the surface and that same old “I pay your salary, so I own you” mentality. Others have conceded that the four might be guilty, so they want to bring up past “open meeting” violations that have been ignored as some sort of restitution. Then there are those who think that the Victoria Advocate is being selective in their outrage. That’s why I think that we need a quick resolution before the insane take over the asylum.

There’s no doubt that the media and politicians are at an all- time low in popularity but that’s why we need to stick to facts and do less assuming. Newspapers (freedom of the press) are known as the fourth estate because it’s supposed to bring about the transparency we want from government. Politicians are our elected representatives who give us our voice in government. This incident can start to restore our faith in those entities (at the local level) if we let the facts take us to the eventual outcome.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Council members David Hagan, Josephine Soliz and Joe Truman have also not released their phone records, which could shed light on a possible Open Meetings Act violation that occurred before the May 14 city council meeting.

Alvarez is waiting on phone company to mail his phone records....I can get mine on line