I wasn't expecting to watch last night's debate that featured the candidates vying for Jerry Garza's commissioners spot, but the Keyrose household set up the DVR anyway. My indifference arose from hearing the same old campaign slogans and recycled refrains coming from different political camps. It would be the same thing we've seen before, but with different actors, I thought. But instead, the showing last night was intriguing on several levels.
Several days ago the LMT ran a story on the candidates' fundraising. John Galo, we learned, was the leader in campaign cash up to this point. For that reason, and because of his relatively recent political work, he became the target in the field of five.
The first question out of the gate dealt with his involvement in the El Portal project as councilman. According to him, the city did not lose out financially in awarding the lease to the Khaledis. Take a look.
The city may be getting paid $45,000 a month in rent by the Khaledis -- which I find amazing since the property is practically empty -- but what wasn't mentioned in detail was the fact that the city already had a contract with another group and the deadline for bids had already passed. Nevertheless, the Khaledis made a higher offer to lease El Portal and the city, including Mr. Galo, drooled. They took the bait, and then the Khaledis adjusted the actual square footage they would pay for.
Mr. Galo only saw more money; little did he know that he and the city were getting played. And the city showed that proper procedures didn't matter when higher bidders were concerned. Deadlines be damned when more shekels are offered.
The fact that the El Portal is half empty may have more to do with the economy tanking than with the misguided efforts of those involved. But the project is an example of how city leaders blindly bow to those with deep pockets and big promises.
Mr. Galo may have a bigger war chest than the others in this campaign, but he's also carrying around a bit of political baggage, baggage that some in the community are wary of. It may not be Frank Sciaraffa kind of baggage but it's enough to repel the finicky Laredo public. The mere fact that he's played the game before puts him at a disadvantage. And giving disingenuous answers in debates doesn't bode well for him too.