I am deeply appreciative to the staff of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission for promptly responding to my office’s request for a thorough review of El Paso’s indigent defense system. The Commission’s findings support the concerns I raised over the inconsistent methods that were used to appoint defense attorneys, and the timeliness of those appointments. The report will help pave the way for historic reforms to our local criminal justice system.
The Commission’s findings provide the County with a unique opportunity to move forward by identifying solutions that will improve the level of coordination among the various offices involved in our criminal justice system. I strongly believe the findings further underscore the need for a County Pretrial Office that will improve collaboration among the Commissioners Court, the Judiciary, the District Attorney’s Office, and others to create more effective processes and procedures for individuals from the time they are booked in the jail to the time their case is disposed.
El Paso taxpayers are currently spending more per capita than all other taxpayers in the state to incarcerate individuals in our county jail. This is simply unsustainable, and we have an opportunity to implement meaningful reforms that can generate millions of dollars in annual savings.
TIDC Report Cover Letter
TIDC Final El Paso Report
After learning the results of Mr. Valenti’s recent evaluation and the Board’s approval of a $120,000 bonus, I am particularly disappointed that he received largely positive marks for his ability to establish and maintain “effective relationships with local, county, state, and federal organizations and officials which influence the District’s ability to serve its community.” I have expressed during our joint meetings with the Board, I have been deeply concerned by the erosion of trust and communication between the Commissioners Court and the County’s Hospital District.
The Hospital District has sent several mixed messages to the public and the Commissioners Court about the organization’s financial needs. This year alone, the Hospital District’s leadership informed the Board of Managers, and the public, that an 8 percent tax increase was necessary to offset a decline in revenues. Days later, that proposal was retracted and other solutions were deemed sufficient to meet the Hospital District’s needs. Weeks later, the Commissioners Court approved a $20 million tax anticipation note to meet the Hospital District’s cash flow needs, but has yet to be provided with any updates on this matter. Finally, awarding the CEO with a $120,000 bonus, particularly after more than 50 employees were laid off only a few months prior, only diminishes the public’s trust and confidence that taxpayer funds are being spent prudently during these difficult times.
Here is a video from ABC 7 Extra where I discussed my frustrations even further with host Maria Garcia.
ABC 7 Xtra: UMC and Valenti Bonus
Other News Outlets:
County Commissioners: UMC CEO Jim Valenti Should Not Have Accepted $120k Bonus (El Paso Times)
UMC Board Member: 'I Won't Step Down' (KTSM Video)
University Medical Center of El Paso Has Yet to Release Information on Bonuses (El Paso Times)
Valenti Email to El Paso County Commissioner Says He Would Not Get Bonus (El Paso Times)
UMC CEO Email 'We expect no bonuses through this year'; $300k in Bonuses Issued Months Later (KFOX Video)
Spanish Media Outlets
Controversia por Bono a Presidente de UMC (Telemundo El Paso)
Comisionados Analizan Desempeno de la Mesa Directiva de UMC (Univision El Paso)
Controversia en UMC por Aprobacion de Bonos (Univision El Paso)
Now that one of Texas' oldest communities is now its newest city, San Elizario must take the next step forward - elect leadership.
A mayor and 5 members of council will be up for grabs in the election that will be held:
***May 10th, 2014
In order to be eligible to run for one of the positions you must meet the following qualifications:
- US citizen age 18 or older
- Resident of Texas for 12 months
- AND resident of the area within the city limits of the City of San Elizario for 6 months prior to February 28th, 2014.
The filing period to run for office is:
***January 29th, 2014 - February 28th, 2014 (No application will be accepted after 5:00PM on February 28, 2014.
For more information please contact the County Judge's Office at 546-2098 or Commissioner Perez's office at 546-2144
Its something we take for granted every day. We turn on the tap in the morning to take a shower or brush our teeth and we expect two things: water to come out and for that water to be clean and drinkable.
While that is something we all expect, the reality is that for many in our community, clean potable water is not something they take for granted. And now, they are one step closer to being able to have the same expectation of clean and potable water. Watch this story for more details.
County Commissioner Vince Perez (PCT 3) was the featured speaker at a breakfast meeting for County Commissioner Patrick Abeln yesterday morning at the Denny’s Restaurant on Transmountain.
Commissioner Perez spoke about several issues relating to the County of El Paso including the budget, clinics, and mandated and non-mandated services. In addition, Commissioner Perez also gave the residents an update to the Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry project.
During his introduction Commissioner Abeln spoke of Commissioner Perez being a “cost-cutter” for the County.
Well the holiday season is upon us!
There was a delivery yesterday of about 800 toys to Alarcon Elementary in San Elizario. The toys were from the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots program that is spearheaded by the Marine Corps Reserve and other charities. This was just one of 44 deliveries going out across Precinct 3 and the County!
A big thank you to all the volunteers and people who contributed to such a worthy cause. Seeing children enjoying toys they would not otherwise have is extremely rewarding.
Here is a round-up of stories relating to the County and Precinct 3 over the month of November along with a brief description of the stories.
November 27th, 2013 KVIA
There are many challenges to managing the budget at the County. Some of the concerns of Commissioner Perez relating to the way process works under our current system are outlined in this piece.
November 26th, 2013 KVIA I-Team
The ABC 7 I-Team did a story on indigent defense in El Paso County. The story talks about who receives indigent defense services and how the attorneys are appointed.
November 25th, 2013 KFOX
The County lacks the authority to intervene in the El Paso Electric Power Plant issue in the Montana Vista community. That is among a few reasons why Commissioner’s Court will not file a lawsuit over the issue. Read more details on the issues involved in this complex topic.
November 15th, 2013 KFOX
Here’s a peek at the new Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry.
November 6th, 2013 KFOX
The process for setting up a new city government in San Elizario will take the hard work of committed community members. Here’s a story on what the incorporation of the oldest community in the County could mean for local residents.
November 5th, 2013 KFOX
San Elizario Becomes a city! Read all about it here.
It is one of the biggest annual events in El Paso and this year Commissioner Perez and team rode in the Sun Bowl Parade. The 3+ mile parade route was full of holiday revelers that make the parade part of their annual Thanksgiving tradition.
There were the usual marching bands, matachines, people riding on horseback and several colorful and unique floats in this years’ parade.
Commissioner Perez joined the County Judge and other members of Commissioners Court in the parade and rode in a pick-up truck decorated for the holiday season. Holiday music and several crowd favorites by Little Joe and Los Tigres del Norte were played by Commissioner Perez’s parade entry.
Commissioner Perez honored five veterans from San Elizario, Texas during their annual Veteran’s Day celebration. Each of the veterans, hailing from the local community and representing several branches of the military, received certificates honoring their service to their community and El Paso County.
Veterans that were honored served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Click the video below.
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