In this episode of Niemanwatch, we examine how City Attorney Karla Nieman took 53 days to inform City Council that the City of El Paso is being sued by the United States of America.

Brianna Perez of KVIA reported on February 27 that that the federal government filed suit against the City and two local companies on February 2 for violating the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) between January 2015 and February 2020.

You see, at least 176 vehicles owned by American soldiers were impounded and sold at auction without a court order, a direct violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

The Act protects active duty military from certain civil proceedings, including enforcement of storage liens without a court order, while they serve our country.

The United States is asking a federal court to award “appropriate monetary damages to each identifiable victim of the Defendants’ violations of the SCRA; and assesses civil penalties against the Defendants in order to vindicate the public interest.”

The lawsuit was filed against the City of El Paso on February 2, which was 53 days ago.

It was revealed locally to the public by KVIA on February 27, which was 28 days ago.

Yet, to the best of my knowledge, Karla Nieman failed to inform City Council until today’s meeting, under agenda item EX5: “United States of America vs. City of El Paso, Texas; United Road Towing, Inc. D/B/A UR Vehicle Management Solutions; and Rod Robertson Enterprises, Inc. Matter No. 20-1026-10714 (551.071).”

Why was City Council kept in the dark about this scandal for so long, and what is the City going to do for the soldiers whose cars were unlawfully seized from them and sold at auction?

Have a great evening.

Photo credit: Aaron Montes, Twitter, December 11, 2018.