It’s in the news that District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez needs to pay his property taxes. No one disputes that.
What is up in the air right now is what can, should, and will happen next. Will the City Council try to remove District 1’s elected representative in the middle of his term?
Let’s look at a little background information. I find two things interesting about this affair:
1) The timing, and
2) The source.
First, the source.
This has, from the beginning, been a KFYO story. KFYO is the most far-right radio station in town. (Don’t agree? Name me one that is farther to the right.) As a station, they have a long history of antagonizing Lubbock City District 1 and its representatives. Last weekend, someone fed them the idea to run a story about Councilman Hernandez’s property taxes. They started running the story right away on Monday.
Interestingly enough, KCBD Channel 11, our local NBC affiliate and also the most right-leaning TV station in town, was fed the same story from (presumably) the same source at the same time, but did not run the story until later in the week when they could verify the details themselves.
Or, to put it another way: KBCD, being a news station first and a right-leaning source of opinion second, sat on the story until they could do their due diligence. KFYO, being a right-wing propaganda outlet first and a news station second, ran with the story immediately.
So, given the initial coverage of this story, who is the source? Who created a story when there was none?
Now, to the timing.
The A-J’s Elliott Blackburn has the best coverage of this story. A careful reading of that article is rewarded with many details not brought to light anywhere else. Chief among them:
1) Both Hernandez and his runoff opponent Glen Robertson had tax issues in their campaign that were known at the time and not seen as a barrier to the job of Councilman. If they were not barriers to service then, why are they now?
2) Both Hernandez and Robertson question the timing of this attempt to remove Councilman Hernandez. Here is the money shot from Blackburn’s article:
Hernandez intended to seek changes in March to city rules to require high-level board members disclose conflicts of interest.
He raised other issues in a late January memo sent to council members and legal staff.
Hernandez questioned possible conflicts of interest between High Plains Diversified Energy Corp. Chairman Scott Collier, who was seeking to purchase power plants and sell electricity in the region, and his father, the chairman of Lubbock Power & Light.
Hernandez also questioned whether the project’s bank was the same bank run by the utility board chairman, W.R. Collier, and challenged participation by Texas Tech and, potentially, advice given to the project by city staff.
Robertson, who lost by just a 10-vote margin last spring and now serves as a council appointee to a volunteer position on two city electric utility boards, said he was “trying to stay as far away as possible” from the matter but questioned its timing.
There was nothing new about the facts of his former opponent’s candidacy, he said. Both of them faced tax questions during the spring campaign, he said.
“I hope I’m wrong, but it just doesn’t pass the smell test,” Robertson said. “I don’t think the motives are pure. I think it’s politics at its worst.”
So, right after District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez began formally pushing for financial disclosure and prevention of conflicts of interest on city boards and appointments that can act as “Officers of the City,” (i.e. commit the City financially), he is on the receiving end of the political equivalent of a knife to the jugular. I don’t think this passes the smell test either.
For background about what is inspiring possible Council action regarding financial disclosures and conflict of interest ordinances, check out LubbockPowerGrab.com, which features research done by local attorney Charles Dunn regarding a pending electric power deal for our region. The information from LubbockPowerGrab.com was made public on the Wade Wilkes morning show at KRFE AM580 two weeks ago. Elliot Blackburn also has good coverage of that issue from last Sunday’s A-J.
One other thing to consider: redistricting is coming up right over the horizon, and here we see the City Council perhaps removing District 1’s elected representative in the middle of his term. District 1 has always been under attack from those who preferred the (illegal) at-large system of representation that Lubbock used to have. A councilman-less district does not bode well for the redistricting future of District 1.
With these circumstances, it seems that certain members of the Southwest Lubbock power elite and Lubbock’s most far-right media mouthpieces have decided that attacking District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez is a natural fit.