It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
The El Paso Commissioners Court was poised to rubber-stamp $346 million in certificates of obligation to fund the UMC hospital expansion, but Jacob Cintron and his colleagues at UMC botched the rollout so badly that they are facing a political and media backlash as well as two citizen petitions aimed at killing the CO issuance.
Here comes US Congresswoman Veronica Escobar to the rescue.
Five days ago she published a lengthy column in the El Paso Times attacking opponents of the proposed $346 million UMC bond.
Like a true politician, she focuses on the need to fund the hospital expansion while completely evading the issue at hand: the proposed use of certificates of obligation to pay for it.
Escobar knows perfectly well that the use of COs for non-emergency purposes is controversial, especially since our City Council has issued more CO debt than the five largest Texas cities combined and has used COs to fund everything from street repair to entertainment projects; and now UMC wants a piece of the action.
In her column, Escobar demonizes the Libre Initiative, a conservative organization backed by the Koch Brothers, whom she claims “have used their immense wealth to try to dismantle the health care safety net in our country.” She states that the “ultimate goal” of Libre “is to gain political traction in El Paso, using dark money that doesn’t have our best interests in mind.”
CONGRESSWOMAN ESCOBAR IS SUPPORTED BY MAJOR REPUBLICANS
Uhmmm, the last I checked, five of the ten largest individual contributors to Escobar are strong supporters of Republicans: Ted Houghton, Paul Foster, Ginger Francis, Rick Francis, and Woody Hunt. Three of these–Paul Foster, Rick Francis, and Ted Houghton–are among the largest individual El Paso donors to Governor Greg Abbott, with Foster donating $641,864.50 from January 1, 2019 through the end of 2021.
Escobar’s political posturing against Republicans is the epitome of hypocrisy.
But then there is her dishonesty about Libre. The petition the group is circulating explicitly opposes using certificates of obligation to fund the UMC hospital expansion. But the petition does not oppose funding the expansion of the hospital. It only opposes using COs for that expansion.
Escobar writes that “El Pasoans deserve the facts,” and she is correct, but we are certainly not going to get them from a partisan politician, especially on an initiative that threatens to raise our property tax by issuing $346 million of new debt without voter authorization.
If the proposed investment would be as “wise” as Escobar contends, then let us rely upon our own wisdom at the ballot box. Stop telling us what we “deserve” and stop suggesting that you know how to spend our money better than we do.