Tuesday, May 22, 2012


July 2009:              Budget amendment passes council granting partner benefits to LGBT employees.  “19 people signed up, adding about $30,000 to the city's $34 million health-care budget.”
January 2010:         Domestic partner benefits went into effect.
2010:                     Tom Brown begins collecting signatures for Ballot Initiative with his group, El Paso for Traditional Family Values (herein known as EP4TFV).
June 2010:               Signatures Certified.  Ballot initiative gets on the ballot for 11/2/2010 election.
                                    Pastor Tom Brown counters the union’s claims by issuing a press statement stating that retiree’s health benefits would not be affected, as they’re not considered “city employees” in the literal sense, though the language is broad.  In the doc, Brown also claims that those retirees are covered by State mandate. 
11/02/2010:         Voters approve referendum 55-45%.  Total turnout: 88,505 out of 379,727 registered voters, 42,251 of which turned out for early voting.
11/07/2010:          Marty, I know you’re published both on the news and opinion pages, but remember which hat you’re wearing, honey.
Those potentially affected not only include 19 gay and unmarried partners of current employees, but retirees, their spouses,
Two measures are proposed: a) reversing the referendum, b) drafting a non-discrimination amendment to the city charter to go on the ballot during the May council elections.
11/13/2010:            CharlieEdgren writes a reductive Op/Ed calling council members who wish to overturn the ballot initiative, “mini-Neros” and yelling for a recall.
11/16/2010:       Council moves to vacate referendum. Susie Byrd (Dist 2) pushes for a non-discrimination amendment.  Eddie Holguin (Dist 6) wants a wholesale reversal.  Police and Firefighter’s unions will sue on behalf of retirees whose benefits will be lost.  The referendum stands. Votes are as follows:
Vacate- Ann Morgan Lilly (Dist 1), Susie Byrd, and Steve Ortega (Dist 7)
Uphold- Beto O’Rourke (D- Dist 8), Rachel Quintana (Dist 5), and Eddie Holguin (surprise, surprise)
Absent- Emma Acosta (Dist 3)
After a vote to reconsider, Lilly switched her vote to uphold.
"’I really question the values of the people who were behind this initiative,’ O'Rourke said. ‘But despite my personal objection to it, I will not vote to overturn the will of the voters of El Paso.’"
12/07/2010:            Union Reps for Police threaten to sue. Byrd tells the unions to bring it on. 
12/16/2010:            EPPDUnion President file suit on behalf of Officer Virginia Jimenez, her lesbian partner Mayela Arizpe, and retirees and their partners slated to lose benefits thanks to the referendum.  County Court at Law #5 Judge Carlos Villa orders city not to enforce ordinance until hearing is held December, 29th.
-Mayor Cook: “This is exactly what I'd hoped would happen.  Where it should be settled is in a court of law, not before the City Council."
 –Pastor Brown: "I think it's terrible.   Now it seems like the police union is going to thwart the will of the people."
12/24/2010:            Partner health benefits suit filed by EPPD/EPFD union moves to Federal Court.  US District Judge Frank Montalvo extends the temporary restraining order (TRO) placed on enforcing the ban from 10/29/2010 to 1/13/2011
1/16/2011:            Protest @ Pastor Brown’s Barnes and Noble book signing for Breaking Curses; Experiencing Healing.  Management encouraged him to bring security, anticipating protest.
1/18/2011:             Council delays drafting the ballot initiative reversing the previous one drafted by Brown.
1/19/2011:              City rejects broadly worded initiative that would restore benefits. O’Rourke wants more straightforward language.
-Susie Byrd pushes Charter Amendment that would restore benefits to employees:
“The City shall afford equal employment and benefit opportunities to all qualified individuals in compliance with all applicable laws, without regard to their race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, color, religion, ethnic background or national origin, age, disability or any characteristic or status that is protected by federal, state or local law. The benefit opportunities guaranteed under this section shall apply to city officials, employees and retirees, as well as employees of affiliated service contractors and other persons who may be eligible under state law, and their spouses, domestic partners, and dependents as defined in the city's health benefits plans and other benefits programs approved by city council."
1/28/2011:             Council decides to push ballot initiative reversing referendum to November, opting to wait until the Federal Court decides on the Union’s lawsuit.
3/8/2011;                  Associate Pastor, Sonia Brown decides to run for City Council District 5.
4/9/2011:            Pastor Brown runs a slate of candidates including his wife Sonia and Malcom McGregor whose residency is called into question during his bid for District 8.  He owns one home in the district, but it’s argued that his primary residence is in Anthony, NM.
5/24/11:              Federal Judge Frank Montalvo upholds referendum- the measure discriminates across the board and does not solely discriminate against LGBT employees.  Per the El Paso Times: Montalvo is quoted as quoting the Federalist Papers “This is an example of how direct democracy sometimes has unexpected consequences.”
6/8/2011:                Council announces plans to vote to overturn the referendum.  Cook proposed the motion to introduce.  Motion was passed 6-2: Eddie Holguin and Emma Acosta voting nay.
6/13/2011:          Brown threatens to recall petition drive if measure vacating his referendum is passed.
6/14/2011:               City Council votes to restore benefits:
                                                -Yea:            Byrd, O’Rourke, Quintana, Ortega
                                                -Nay:            Lilly, Holguin, Robinson, Acosta
                               Mayor casts tie-breaking vote for vacation.  According to the Times Lilly switched her vote to secure opponent’s endorsements during a hard fought City Council re-election bid.
6/19/2011:              Brown announces plans to launch recall against Byrd, Ortega, and Cook.
7/1/2011-                Here is a collection of Letters to the Editor
7/13/2011-            Americans United for the Separation of Church and State file a complaint against Pastor Brown with the IRS.
7/18/2011-            Brown files intent to recall.  He will have 60 days to collect 6,100 signatures.  Petitions made available at several churches including Word of Life, Jesus Chapel, and Centro Vida Life Center.
8/13/2011-             DA Esparza launches investigation into Brown and allegations that signatures were garnered illegally.
8/21/2011-                 Theresa Caballero and Stuart Leeds become Brown’s legal team.
9/09/2011-                 Nice, headline Marty: “Recall drive mounts final thrust”
9/13/2011-            Cook obtains TRO (temporary restraining order) halting collection of petition signatures from Judge Javier Alvarez, County Court #3 until hearing is held 9/26/11.
9/15/2011:                Judge Alvarez lifts TRO and orders clerk to receive signatures.
9/22/2011:                Reverend Michael Rodriguez, parish priest at San Juan Bautista Catholic Church is transferred for engaging in recall efforts by assisting with the collection of signatures and advertising the recall.   Bishop Armando X. Ochoa says his involvement is not permitted under IRS tax codes.
9/27/2011:            Cook wants to extend parts of a TRO against Brown’s group in an effort to “preserve evidence”. Cook claims State Law HB2395 prohibits corporations, non-profits, and churches from engaging in this kind of political action. .  His appeal for extension is rejected, despite his ongoing lawsuit.

10/04/11:             Per the Times: “The Eighth District Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected Mayor John Cook's request to force County Court at Law 3 Judge Javier Alvarez to consider whether recall petitions were gathered illegally.”
                                         Mayor Cook still pursuing lawsuit against Pastor Brown and EP4TFV.

10/13/2011:         The Times reports that attorney for EP4TFV, Joel Oster of the Alliance Defense Fund admitted that petitions were being circulated in churches, possibly in violation of State elections law.[http://www.elpasotimes.com/nt/ci_19098571?source=pkg]

10/24/11:                   Hearings begin in Cook lawsuit.  Cooks attorneys subpoenae Pastor Tom Brown as a witness as well as several members if EP4TFV.  A protective motion is filed to quash subpoenaes. [see doc]

                                    - EP4TFV is a “specific use PAC”, meaning it can raise and spend money only for one stated purpose.  The PAC was filed specifically to campaign for the ballot initiative and appeared to not have been refilled under its new use: supporting the recall initiative, which could mean the PAC is operating illegally. 

11/14/2011:                Councilagenda delayed as hearings continue.
-"’This hearing should have lasted about four hours and now it's into four days,’ Cook said on Friday.”

11/23/2011-                Final arguments.  Judge Alvares likely to rule that recall can proceed.
-Joel Oster with ADF argues that corporations can circulate recall petitions and that this is protected by Citizen’s United.  Mayor’s request to halt recall is ultimately denied. 

12/13/2011-              “Smokinggun” document provides evidence that Pastor Brown and Word of Life Church were circulating petitions in violation of Texas State Law (HB 2359).  The document released by Cook’s attorney Mark Walker is minutes from a board meeting entitiled: “Plan to Recall”.

1/4/2012:                    MayorCook motions to sanction Pastor Brown
-sanctions also sought against EP4TFV treasurer Ronald Webster and Brown’s attorneys.
-sanctions could include fines and  an order to pay Cook’s legal expenses.
-time lost from failure to comply with subpoena in a timely manner
-Brown turned over docs after Judge Alvarez denied Cook’s request to temporarily halt recall.

1/24/2012:                 Deliberation at 8th District Court of Appeals
- Joel Oster (attorney for Brown with Alliance Defense Fund) doesn’t shy away from use of church resources to obtain signatures.
-per the Times: “Joel Oster, the lawyer representing Pastor Tom Brown, Word of Life Church and others, did not dispute Cook's contention that church resources were used to organize and carry out the petition drive. But if the appellate court finds that his clients broke the law in doing so, it would be the same as saying newspapers can't legally cover political news and endorse candidates,

1/25/2012:                  8th District Court of Appeals arguments:
                                    -Cook arguing against County Court at Law #3 Judge Alvarez’s decision to deny a request for temporary injunction
                                    -Oster argues that collecting the petitions is free speech whether or not it occurred within the Church.
-Joel Oster, via the Times: “’What you see is a group of concerned citizens who wanted to be involved in a local political matter,’ Oster said. ‘What they did is free speech. That is what they are being attacked for.’”
-Walker argues that Texas State law clearly defines boundaries of political speech with regards to corporations, non-profit or otherwise.
-Mark Walker via the Times: “If Oster's interpretation of the law is correct, Walker said, a corporation could tell the City Council, ‘Give us a tax abatement or we'll recall you.’"
-Walker insists the law is in line with Citizen’s United and stands as constitutional.
-“Justice Guadalupe Rivera, a member of the court of appeals, seemed skeptical of Oster's claim that enforcing the law against corporate churches making political contributions would stifle Brown's free speech. ‘When was he ever stopped from expressing his opinions?’ Rivera asked.”
-EP4TFV never officially declared it’s purpose to recall Cook.  It was originally formed as a specific use PAC to push the ballot initiative. 
-This puts EP4TFV’s petitions into question as to whether they are valid or not.
-Oster claimed precident that recall groups aren’t subject to the same disclosure laws.
-Walker argues that Texas law specifically addresses recall elections and corporate involvement.

-Lawsuit filed by Jesus Chapel pastor John Hoyt seeks to overturn HB2359 stating that it’s unconstitutional
                                    -Suit is filed in US District Court
-Via Times: “The church and Hoyt have claimed that the law  their rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, due process, equal protection and their right to petition the government for the redress of grievances, according to the lawsuit.
-… “The church and Hoyt have claimed that the law violates their rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, due process, equal protection and their right to petition the government for the redress of grievances, according to the lawsuit.”

2/01/2012-                   Recall set for 4/14 tentatively.
2/18/2012-                   8th Court of Appeals rules against recall:
                                    -HB 2359 violated
-Brown and his attorneys vow to take appeal decision to Texas Supreme Court.
2/24/2012-                  “GrandJury Subpoenas Recall Petitions”
-via the Times: “Grand juries, as a general rule, subpoena evidence when they are looking into possible criminal prosecution.
-“The subpoena comes after the state 8th District Court of Appeals last week ruled that a group trying to recall Cook, Byrd and Ortega broke the law in their effort.
-“Esparza has said he is considering whether to charge a leader of the recall group, Pastor Tom Brown, with breaking a law prohibiting corporations from making political contributions to a recall effort. The appellate court said that Word of Life Church, a nonprofit corporation of which Brown is president, made such contributions to the recall.
-“The Texas Election Code says that violations of that law are punishable as a third-degree felony.”

3/23/2012-                   Motions denied by Texas Supreme Court
-via the Times: “The high court denied motions to stay a ruling last month by the 8th Court of Appeals and to order Municipal Clerk Richarda Momsen to reclaim recall petitions while the state Supreme Court considered arguments that the lower court was wrong in its ruling and that parts of Texas election law are unconstitutional…
-“The appellate court sided with the mayor, but recall lawyers say the parts of the law the court says were violated are unconstitutional. Some in the recall camp have vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.”           

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