Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cedar Park's Lowell Moore: Mo Jahadi's Criminal History Should Matter to Voters UPDATED

Updated to include Press Release regarding Mo Jahadi's apparent failure to comply with Ethics Commission requirements. 

The City of Cedar Park is one of many localities holding elections this Spring, and earlier this week the Austin American-Statesman reported that one of the candidates seems to have a troubling legal history.  In addition to convictions for writing bad checks and drug-related charges, candidate "Dr. Mo" Jahadi also apparently has a warrant out for his arrest in another state.

From the Statesman article:
The lawyer Jahadi has retained said he could “neither confirm nor deny” that the speeding ticket belonged to his client, and is in the process of obtaining information from the Salome Justice Court.    “We’re still ascertaining whether the person accused of speeding is Mohammad Jahadi, who’s my client, or another Mohammad Jahadi,” lawyer James Sustaita said.

Jahadi is challenging incumbent councilman Lowell Moore, who is a pretty decent, conservative guy, and I'm not sure why Jahadi doesn't like him.

Although Jahadi seems to be downplaying the unpaid ticket and subsequent warrant as no big deal, Councilman Moore has pointed out that the City of Cedar Park itself has thousands of outstanding, unpaid tickets resulting in about $3 million in lost revenue for the city.  (Moore's press release is below.) 

Most Texas municipal elections (city councils, school districts, etc,) will take place on May 10 this year, with early voting beginning Monday, April 28.  In case you are suffering from 'election confusion,' this is not the same as the Republican Primary Run-off Election.  That election takes place on May 27, with early voting beginning on May 19.  Clear as mud?  (Why is it that some folks think presenting identification to vote is a burden but having to keep track of four or five elections a year is not?  Hey, at least it's not a Labor Day election this time.)

(CEDAR PARK, TX)  On April 24, 2014 the Austin American-Statesman published an article titled, “Attorney for Cedar Park candidate questions old warrant from 1997 ticket”.  The story detailed an outstanding arrest warrant and multiple convictions of Cedar Park city council candidate Mohammed Jihadi.  The story listed the criminal history to include:

-An outstanding arrest warrant for an unpaid speeding ticket in Arizona
-A conviction for writing a bad check
-A conviction for drug possession and failing a related drug test

In the article the interviewer wrote that Mr. Jihadi said that at the time of his convictions he was a “teenager” and was “young” and “stupid”, but his most recent conviction occurred recently when he was in his twenties.  “The detailing of Mr. Jihadi’s convictions and open arrest warrant raise serious questions about his fitness for office,“ said Cedar Park Councilmember Lowell Moore.  “Being an elected member of city council is an office of public trust.  The citizens of Cedar Park expect their elected officials to live up to the highest standards of respecting the law and taking personal responsibility for their obligations to society”.

“Mr. Jihadi’s failure to pay his speeding ticket and the related arrest
warrant is something that one may easily dismiss as not being important,” said Moore.  “However, as an experienced councilmember I know that the City of Cedar Park currently has more than 3300 outstanding tickets over 10 years old that equals nearly $3 million dollars in lost revenue to the taxpayers of Cedar Park.  Collecting money from fines not only serves the purpose of exacting justice for violating the law and hazarding public safety, but also helps pay for the critical law enforcement activities that help keep Cedar Park one of the safest cities in Texas”.

“I respect the men and women in our public safety departments and our municipal court system and I know that we as citizens must honor the laws that govern our society.  It seems clear, in view of my opponent’s criminal history, that there is a stark difference between the choices voter have in this election.  I respectfully urge the voters of Cedar Park to return me to city council where I pledge to continue to craft conservative budgets, control taxes and proudly keep the police and fire departments the number one budget priority for the continued protection of the citizens of Cedar Park,” said Moore.

About Lowell Moore: 
Councilman Lowell Moore is a former Senior Vice President with a Fortune 500 Company and if given the opportunity to serve for the next two years he will continue to focus on bringing strategic economic development to our city.  He was instrumental in the development of the Cedar Park Center that now is home to the three major sports teams, over 150 events yearly, and rings thousands of visitors to our city each year.  Moore was elected to City Council in 1998 and served for four years.  He returned to the council in 2008 and presently serves on council.

Election information:
Early Voting begins on April 28 and runs through May 6.  Election Day is Saturday, May 10, 2014.
Update:  It seems that Mr. Jahadi has not complied with Ethics Commission filing requirements as of Tuesday, May 7, 2014.  Councilman Lowell Moore released the following statement:

“The Texas Ethics Commission publishes rules and regulations regarding campaign finance.  Title 15 of the Texas election code, regulates political funds and campaigns” said Cedar Park City Council Member Lowell Moore.  “Title 15 specifies what must be reported, the format of the report, and certain dates which must be met for required reports. “ One such date is 8 days prior to an election.  Opposed candidates must file a campaign finance report with the appropriate authority.  According to the City of Cedar Park, as of Tuesday May 6, Mohammad (MO) Jahadi had not filed the report required 8 days prior to the election, which was due Friday, May 2nd.  Moore said “This is an important issue and shows continued disregard for the law”.

Click here to read the full press release from Lowell Moore.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Know Carlos Salinas by the Company He Keeps

One way in which Democrats often attempt to gain a foothold in Republican areas is through so-called 'non-partisan' offices.  We've seen this repeatedly through the local school board in Round Rock, but highly partisan 'non-partisans' are also a problem on the City Council.

Round Rock City Councilman Carlos Salinas has tried to reassure the city's Republicans that he is really not that partisan, but his recent re-election campaign efforts are telling a different story.

Salinas kicked off his campaign (at his possibly illegal  downtown headquarters,) with a whole slew of Democrats from out-of-town.  Until last weekend, his Facebook page proudly displayed photos of himself with some rather surprising characters.  Most notably, former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin,) Democrat candidate for State Senator Joel Shapiro, and Democrat Congressional Candidate Louie Minor have all journeyed to Round Rock to help re-elect their Democrat comrade. 

Former State Senator and staunch Democrat Gonzalo
Barrientos drove up from Austin to attend Salinas'
campaign kick-off.

Now retired from the legislature, Senator Gonazalo Barrientos is well-known not only for being allowed to stay in office after his DWI arrest and conviction, but for his 100% Pro-Abortion voting record from the National Abortion Rights Association (NARAL).  He also stinks on 2nd Amendment Rights and received an overall "D" rating from both the TSRA and NRA.  Barrientos' ratings on Budget, Spending, and Tax issues ranges from a low of 5% to a high of 25%.  I'd say he is pretty darn partisan, but gosh he sure seems to like Carlos Salinas.

 Democrat Congressional Candidate Louie Minor
 drove down from Bell County to help Salinas.  This
photo has now disappeared from Salinas' page.

Also helping out with the Carlos Salinas campaign is Democrat Congressional Candidate Louie Minor.  Mr. Minor joined the demonstrations in Austin last year in support of late-term abortions, and favors expanding the government takeover of healthcare.  He is running against Round Rock's Congressman John Carter on the November 2014 ballot.  These aren't exactly moderates showing up here to help Salinas.

Interestingly enough, shortly after my post last week on how Salinas is benefiting from the $400,000, 5-year, interest-free loan he voted to give to a local developer, someone has 'scrubbed' Salinas' re-election page removing embarrassing photos like the one above of Louie Minor.  The only photos available from last Saturday's fundraiser are of...the food.  Now why wouldn't Salinas want everyone to know who his powerful friends are?

Salinas is also a member of the Democrat Municipal Officials association, a national group whose stated goals include building a "Democratic future," and "capitalizing on America's cities and towns as laboratories for policy innovation."  (emphasis added.)   The group also provides members with sample press releases and statements that will make them sound reassuringly conservative to those pesky Republicans in their respective districts.  According to the Democrat Municipal Officials' promotional video, as a member Salinas gets to network with other municipal Democrats from 'successful' cities like Newark and Chicago


The problem with these hardcore Democrats holding local 'non-partisan' seats is that local offices are the launching pad for higher office.  In fact, the above-mentioned Democrat Municipal Officials video specifically states that they are teaching folks like Salinas to "run for other offices."  You would think Round Rock residents would have learned their lesson after the Diana Maldonado disaster of 2008-09.  Serving on the 'non-partisan' school board led to her election to the State House, where her pro-abortion, anti-business, pro-tax partisan stripes became painfully apparent.

Democrat Carlos Salinas will face local businessman Will Peckham in the May 10 Election.  A Round Rock native, Peckham has been active in the community and unlike Salinas, isn't trying to fool anyone into thinking he's something he's not.  He has served in many non-partisan and partisan roles on behalf of the Republican party.  (Disclosure-He and I have been fellow delegates to the State GOP convention on several occasions.)  Most recently, Will Peckham served as chairman of the Organization Committee at the Williamson County Republican Party Convention.  

Early Voting begins Monday, April 28 and concludes on Tuesday, May 6.  Election Day is Saturday, May 10.  The Williamson County Elections website has a full list of times and locations.  

Update:  Apparently Democrat candidate for Williamson County Commissioner Tom Mowdy is assisting Salinas too:  According to his campaign finance reports Mowdy donated $200 to the campaign.  Another former Democrat candidate, Brig Mireles donated $300.  Again folks, don't let Salinas fool you- he is a committed Democrat. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Round Rock Councilman Salinas Violating Law With Sweetheart Deal? Updated

Salinas Campaign Headquarters in the Historic Nelson Hardware Building
whose owner received an interest-free loan from the city to purchase and
 is now leasing the space back to Salinas at an estimated 80% reduction from market value.

UPDATED:  This post has been updated to include "Exhibit A."  See bottom of page. 

Although the City of Round Rock is notorious for canceling elections due to a literal lack of interest, this year there are actually two contested seats on the city council.  This is a good thing in that it invites citizens to scrutinize the activity of the council and its respective incumbents.  It may, however, be a really, really bad thing for incumbent Councilman Carlos Salinas.

Salinas has sat on the Round Rock City Council for some 9 years unchallenged and appears to be benefiting from his position in a way that violates both city and state codes.
According to official City Council Meeting Minutes from October 25, 2012, Councilman Salinas (and other council members,) voted to approve a development agreement [Resolution Number R-12-10-25-H3] for the City of Round Rock to provide a $400,000, 5-year, interest-free loan to a local developer in order to complete the purchase of the historic Nelson Hardware Building.  Supposedly this transaction was to further the City Council’s goal of making the “Main Street area an authentic dining, entertainment and retail shopping destination for local citizens and tourists alike.”  While we can certainly argue the merits of government choosing economic winners and losers in this way, there is an even more disturbing aspect to this story.

Rather than an attractive new restaurant or shop, now it appears that the Nelson Building's main tenant is...Councilman Carlos Salinas.  During the first week of March 2014, Councilman Salinas' re-election campaign began occupying ground floor space at 201 East Main Street.  Since then, Salinas has held numerous campaign meetings and fundraisers with his out of town Democrat allies (like Travis County's Gonzalo Barrientos and Democrat congressional candidate Louie Minor of Bell County, who is running against Round Rock's John Carter.)

Is this the dynamic downtown development Round Rock taxpayers are supposed to be subsidizing?

Photo posted on Salinas' website of Austin Democrat former State Senator
Gonzalo Barrientos
with Councilman and Mrs. Salinas in Round Rock.

The real kicker is that, according to Salinas' financial reports, he is 'renting' the Nelson Building space for a mere $1,000 per month.  Based on the advertised price of the lease space and estimates by local brokers, the market value for this location is estimated to be approximately $5,500 a month, making this a sweet $4,500 monthly financial benefit for Salinas.

Not only does this apparent 'gift' seem unethical, it is also clearly illegal. 

Such a gift would be in violation of Section 2-118(a)(2) of the City of Round Rock Code of Ordinances, which states:
Gifts. No city official shall intentionally or knowingly solicit or accept any contribution, gift or economic benefit with actual or constructive knowledge that is given in consideration of the favorable exercise of such official’s judgment or discretion in the past.
Even more serious than the city ordinance is Councilman Salinas' possible violation of state statutes, specifically Section 39.02(7) of the Texas Penal Code, which states:
An a felony of the first degree if the value of the use of the thing misused is $200,000.00 or more.  
Salinas voted for the $400,000 interest-free loan, and therefore cannot claim he did not know about the agreement with the city.  Since a campaign office is clearly not a part of the original development agreement, Salinas could be guilty of official misuse of city subsidized property.  Legally speaking, some $400,000 of that building is government property, which would make abuse of the building a first degree felony

Councilman Salinas’s use of the Nelson Building does suggest an abuse of the city development agreement’s intent and stated purpose, which violates both City Ethics and State Abuse of Official Capacity laws.  Furthermore, Councilman Salinas’s below market lease rate could constitute an illegal gift, which violates both City Ethics and State Abuse of Official Capacity laws.

If you’d like to go see the Nelson building and the benefits of incumbency for yourself, Mr. Salinas is holding a fundraiser in his totally awesome taxpayer-subsidized digs this Saturday, April 12 from 11:30-3:00pm.  (201 East Main Street)  Admission is only $10, unless of course you're counting your taxpayer-funded loan to the owner.

This entire situation demonstrates the importance of holding elections, vetting candidates, and electing individuals who aren’t afraid to ask questions.  Our local leaders manage huge amounts of money and wield tremendous power over the community.  The last thing we need are a bunch of officials sitting around a dais holding hands and singing Kumbaya instead of delving into the implications of their decisions.  As the recent arrests of Leland Yee, Patrick Cannon, and Ron Calderon demonstrate, corruption is rife in politics.   It’s time to start paying attention to your local government and local elections.  Now.

This year Salinas has a worthy challenger in Will Peckham.  A local small business owner, Peckham has long been active in the community and has served in a variety of volunteer and leadership roles.  His campaign website is here

Early Voting begins Monday, April 28 and concludes on Tuesday, May 6.  Election Day is Saturday, May 10.  The Williamson County Elections website has a full list of times and locations. 

Update:  In my original posting, I left off the below document:  "Exhibit A,"  which details the problematic agreement between the City of Round Rock and"Lewis".  I do not know if other developers were invited to apply for this 'super special' loan.