By JULIE DAFFERN
LAREDO MORNING TIMES
Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 1:45 AM CST
A local businessman and Laredo City Council candidate’s delinquent tax case was delayed for two years in the district court where his brother-in-law presides.
49th District Court Judge Joe Lopez said he didn’t realize that his brother-in law, Alejandro Perez Jr., had a case in his court until three months ago.
I don't know what irks me more: a candidate that doesn't show up for debates or a judge that pleads ignorance.
This election season didn't bring us much in terms of controversy. Oh sure, we had Mayor Salinas being criticized for his response to the flooding in Los Martinez Dr. We had Gene Belmares being accused of using his influence to control traffic around San Agustin Plaza. We had Gene Belmares being accused of spending money too hastily in developing his crown jewel, North Central Park. We had Gene Belmares get defensive when questioned about his education background and El Portal. But all that didn't rise to the level of corruption; all we found out is that we have some poor choices for mayor.
However, here we have a new development that reeks of favoritism. We have a city council candidate that has fallen behind on rental property taxes. Not earth-shattering news since this is something that happens all the time. What is interesting is that this goes back a couple of years and the person responsible for overseeing the case is related to him.
A petition was originally filed by the City of Laredo on July 30, 2008.Eventually it was set to be settled in court.
The case was set for trial several times in 2009, according to court documents, but wasn't called.
Enter a different judge.
The case wasn't heard until Sept. 9, 2009, when Judge Elma Teresa Salinas Ender sat in for Lopez.A motion was filed by the plaintiffs to set a new trial date. From that time to the present, the Perezes paid their overdue taxes. Their final payment was just received by one of the local taxing entities recently.
It's not what one would call flattering news for somebody who is running for office.
Judge Lopez helps to explain his side of the story by saying that he couldn't have known about this case, and his relation to it, since hundreds of cases are filed on a regular basis. And he sets cases aside sometimes without knowing who, or what, it involves; he's just signing papers at will. Reassuring.
This might not mean a whole lot in the end but it is way too convenient how everything came to be resolved.