|City Attorney Mark Sossi Caricature by Nena Barton|
When this obviously compounded conflict of interest was later mentioned during the Public Comment section of a subsequent City Commission meeting, Sossi had heard enough and issued the ludicrous legal opinion to Mayor Pat Ahumada and the City Commission that the continued broadcast of public comments on City of Brownville's Channel 12 would make the city vulnerable to lawsuits.
Sossi knows a thing or two about lawsuits, being on the receiving end of, not only the Willette & Guerra judgement, but a $20,711.66 judgement from the Texas Workforce for stealing monies, a $100,000 lien from the Internal Revenue Service and two malpractice lawsuits from locals who wrongfully assumed a City Attorney might be someone to engage for personal legal matters. In hindsight, perhaps the City of Brownsville should have considered a banishing of the City Attorney instead of banning the broadcast of public comment. But, no, Sossi hangs on as a Tony Martinez lap dog, facilitating the mayor's backdoor deals on a $10,000 per month contract basis, also netting $5,000 per month from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation for a net of $180,000 annually.(Ironically, the payee for Sossi's payroll checks is The Good Government Firm. Lol!)
The former commissioner was set to introduce the agenda item to restore the broadcast, but behind the scenes Mayor Martinez and City Attorney had worked up a little surprise for Lindin. Sossi, who could never seem to find 15 minutes to work on an ethics code, something this city of 200,000 doesn't have, had spent all week working up his infamous pie chart to demonstrate to the City Commission audience how pulling the switch on the broadcast of public comment had actually enhanced representative democracy, not stifled and choked the life out of it. Here is our reporting of the incident from 2011:
"Melissa Hernandez-Zamora seemed dumbstruck when City Attorney Sossi stood up to give opposition testimony concerning the broadcast of public comment item she had placed on the agenda. It was obvious that Commissioner Zamora had not been advised of the behind-the-scenes manipulation by Mayor Martinez and his eager cohort Sossi. Sossi, afterall, had the most to lose from public comment broadcast since it was comments about his questionable ethics that triggered the ban in the first place. As Zamora got her bearings, Martinez waved Sossi the "go ahead". Sossi made no attempt in his feeble, highschoolish power point to express a legal opinion. There was no mention of free speech, the first amendment, the constitution or even the phony liability issues he has pretended previously. Those might have been worthy legal issues. Instead he expressed only viewpoints, unscientific at best, but most likely simply wrong. With a straight face he used a pie chart to illustrate the greater "diversity" of commenters since the ban, not even having the honesty to acknowledge that many of those new participants were speaking out against the anti-democratic ban. He also railed against grandstanding as he grandstanded."
Tony Martinez was once heard bragging to a commissioner after a City Commission meeting: "I told you I could get this thing done in 45 minutes." That is not what conducting the city's business should be all about, rushing things through without discussion. Agenda items that involve the hard-earned tax dollars of Brownsville's citizens should be carefully, judiciously considered. Commissioners need to come to City Commission meetings prepared to discuss each agenda point intelligently, articulately.
In a city where 10% of registered voters actually vote, our city needs more participatory democracy, not less. The broadcast of public comment should not only be restored, but enlarged. Our city needs, not only Robert Uresti and Letty Perez-Garzoria speaking up with ideas, but also Teresa Saldivar, Trey Mendez, Dennis Sanchez, Daniel Lenz, Abraham Galonsky, Larry Jokl, Craig Grove, Peter Zavaleta, Tony Zavaleta, Dino Chavez, Laura Miniel and others. Expand the session to 30 minutes. Martinez can TIVO Boston Legal. Hopefully, someone who actually "believes in Brownsville" will have the intestinal fortitude to introduce this matter. Cesar??????