Last week some local media ran a story on homosexual protestors gathered at city hall urging people not to sign petitions recalling Mayor Cook. The organizer, Mr. Skip Rosenthal, said the petition was about hatred, bigotry and vindictiveness. Since none of the reporting media provided an opposing view, I will. President John Adams once said; "facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”Here are the facts. I am the one who initiated this latest recall effort and here are my reasons. In 2009 the city was 14 million dollars in debt. The mayor and city council were instituting austerity measures such as eliminating pay raises for city workers for a second year in a row, opening city hall four days instead of five and not hiring to fill vacancies. The mayor and city council also planned to furlough police officers if their union did not agree to delay, for almost a year, the cost of living raise guaranteed in their contract. In the middle of this fiscal crisis, the mayor and city council decided to extend taxpayer benefits to the homosexual and unmarried partners of city employees. At that time the mayor and city council had no idea how much the benefits would cost, but estimates were around $395,000. At a time when the city was implementing austerity measures and preparing to furlough police officers, the mayor and city council were giving a taxpayer supported blank check for benefits to support the lifestyle choices of unmarried city employees. The citizens stood together and initiated a referendum to repeal this action. One of the largest percentages of registered voters to vote in a nonpresidential election voted 55 percent to 45 percent to repeal the benefits. While the referendum could have been worded better, the intent was unmistakable, the repeal of taxpayer benefits to the homosexual and unmarried partners of city employees. Unhappy with the election results, the mayor and city council chose an interpretation of the referendum that would strip benefits from some retirees, spouses and foster children of city employees. This was not the intent of the referendum and they knew it. The mayor and city council threw these people under the bus in an effort to gain support for overturning the referendum. The referendum was challenged and upheld by a federal judge. The city council voted on whether to challenge the referendum and decided 4-3 not to. In the last legislative session before newly elected council members took office, the mayor introduced another ordinance to overturn the referendum and this time the vote was 4-4. The mayor cast the tiebreaking vote to overturn the ordinance so the legal vote of the citizens was nullified and thrown out. I served over thirty years of my life, my entire youth, in the Army. I served in Germany during the Cold War, along the DMZ in Korea, in Panama, Kosovo, Djibouti Africa and I have combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the rest of my life I will carry the painful physical and emotional scars of my military service. I did this (and would do it again) not for hatred, bigotry and vindictiveness, but to support and defend our Constitution, the cornerstone of which is our right to vote and to have our vote count. So while Mr. Rosenthal and many in the media desire to spin this recall in another direction, these are the facts of why I initiated the recall. As for Mr. Rosenthal and his statement about hatred, bigotry and vindictiveness, he must have been remembering his actions from two days earlier. On Monday, 14 May, my wife was gathering signatures at the Regency Assisted living Center when she politely asked Mr. Rosenthal if he would like to sign a petition to recall Mayor Cook for throwing out the votes of the people. He rudely said no and kept walking. A few moments later he returned to where my wife was and began verbally assaulting her. His language was so loud and abusive it caught the attention of several individuals that were campaigning for local candidates. He also went inside the facility where it was reported he went on a profanity laced tirade demanding that my wife be thrown off the premises (she was on a public sidewalk.) He then returned and resumed his belligerent behavior towards my wife. Failing to elicit any response from my wife he left. This episode was witnessed by numerous individuals and can be easily verified. Now I ask you, who in this situation is acting out of hatred, bigotry and vindictiveness. This type of a bully attitude goes to the very heart of why I initiated this recall effort and underscores just how important it is to recall the mayor. The mayor and four city council members decided they were going to force their values upon the citizens of El Paso and anyone who disagreed with them would be bullied into submission. If anyone disagrees with this assessment I would only ask that they look at things as they are and not as they would like them to be.
1. As I stated earlier, in the middle of a fiscal crisis for El Paso, the mayor and city council decided on their own to extend taxpayer funded benefits to the homosexual and unmarried partners of city employees.
2. The citizens of El Paso voted overwhelmingly for a referendum to repeal the taxpayer funded benefits.
3. The City chose a narrow interpretation of the referendum and was willing to strip the benefits from 32 adult dependants of city employees, 84 retirees, 42 dependants of retirees, and 40 children and grandchildren just to get support for overturning the referendum.
4. The referendum was challenged in court and upheld by a federal Judge.
5. Mayor Cook and several city council members, most notably Suzy Byrd and Steve Ortega declare that those who voted for the referendum did so out of hatred and bigotry. The city government that was elected to serve ALL the people repeatedly calls a latge majority of those people bigots.6. The city council voted 4-3 not to challenge the referendum
7. In the last legislative session before newly elected council members took office, the mayor introduced another ordinance to overturn the referendum and throw out the vote of the people of El Paso. The vote was 5-4 with the mayor casting the tiebreaking vote.
8. Several people of high moral character, who are active in their churches and their communities and who exercised their constitutional right to petition their government did so and are now being sued by the Mayor.
9. A local pastor who has done more for the poor and needy in his local community is called a hate monger and a bigot and has his ministry labeled as a hate group because he said unmarried people who cohabitate and homosexuals are immoral, fornicators and sinners. The dictionary lists as a definition for fornicate “to have sex outside of marriage.” The bible says in 1 Timothy 1:8-10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:18-32 and other verses in both the old and new testaments that homosexuality and fornication is sin and immoral behavior. So A Pastor reads from the bible and for this he is labeled a hate Group?Lastly, I would like to remind El Pasoans that despite the voters passing a referendum to repeal taxpayer funded benefits for the homosexual and unmarried partners of city workers and a group of clergy and civic leaders getting enough signatures to force the recall of mayor John Cook and city council members Suzy Byrd and Steve Ortega, at the end of the day, the homosexual and unmarried partners of city workers still have taxpayer funded benefits, John Cook is still mayor, Suzy Byrd and Steve Ortega are still city council members, Father Michael Rodriguez was reassigned somewhere in south Texas and Pastor Tom Brown has had his ministry labeled a hate group because he quoted from the Bible. I would just ask the citizens of El Paso if this sounds right to you. Is this the kind of city you want to raise your family in. If the answer is no then I beg you to please come out and sign a petition so we can force a recall of the mayor and remove him from office before he can something like this again, because if the people don't stand up together and send a message to all our elected officials that they were elected to their offices to serve the people of El Paso and not their own personal agendas this type of conduct will continue.