By Juan Montoya
Isn't it funny how some people seem to lead a charmed existence?
Take for example, the case of Willy Gonzalez, the city animal control officer who shot two people at the Toucan Lounge and then turned himself in to the cops. There was no question that he had taken a gun to a place where alcoholic beverages were sold, that he knew who was there, and that he was involved in an altercation that spilled out into the parking lot where he shot the two people.
Even after that, it was days before there were any charges filed against him. In fact, the police did not release his name until days later when his identity had been common knowledge in the streets of Brownsville.
More recently, we have seen the case of firefighter EMS guy Plinio Rojas who on was accused of keying a private ambulance at Valley Baptist Hospital June 5 and later charged with criminal mischief after he said he could not, or would not, pay the victim an estimated $2,494 in damages for the vandalism.
At first Rojas denied responsibility for the vandalism, but surveillance cameras at the hospital shows that he was the only one around who was at the scene when the damage was done on the ambulance.
The victim has been willing to forgo filing criminal charges against Rojas in return for the restitution, but after consulting with his wife and a relative who was an attorney, said he could not.
Not long ago, in response to the arrest and the filing of charges against Rojas, Fire Department Chief Lenny Perez suspended him from his duties and ordered an investigation into the matter for the alleged "misconduct."
Perez acted against Rojas in response to the misconduct which resulted in some $2,500 in damages.
Now Perez finds himself in a similar situation. He personally recommended that the city hire Pan American Institute Emergency Medical Sciences at a cost of $67,500 to to train 15 firefighters on a basic paramedic course.
The only glitch was that the state shut down the program (ordered a "pause" in bureaucratise) after it determined that the newly-formed company submitted its application under the course number of a legitimate University of Texas listing even though the company had no affiliation with UTB or authority to do so.
The students, who had been in training since May, are out of three months of time, the city will not get its certified paramedics, and the $67,000 seems to have gone out the window.
Now, on the weight of Lenny's recommendations, City Manager Charlie Cabler presented the proposal for the city commission's approval, and commissioner Rose Gowen made the motion seconded by commissioner Rick Longoria to approve it.
As the state continues its probe of the apparent fraud perpetrated upon the Texas Department of State Health Services, city employees are wondering whether Lenny will continue to lead a charmed existence as he compiles a sorry record as fire chief. If Rojas got suspended for $2,000 in damages to private company, will Lenny skip away free after wasting three months of 15 firefighters and $67,000 in city money?