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Food trucks leverage border street food tradition into storefront businesses

Borderzine - Mon, 01/13/2020 - 5:54pm

Borderzine reporter Nicole Madrid explores how some El Paso entrepreneurs used food trucks to test and build their brick and mortar businesses.



Story Script

FROM FOOD TRUCK TO STOREFRONT
5:42
NICOLE MADRID

NATS 1: [Fade in sounds of food truck generator humming. Keep low under TRACK, fade out under “options.” ]

TRACK 1: (:28)

THE HUM OF A FOOD TRUCK HAS BECOME THE SOUNDTRACK TO MANY EL PASO MEALS IN RECENT YEARS, ATTRACTING DINERS WITH THEIR UNIQUE AND AFFORDABLE OPTIONS. NOW, FOOD TRUCK OWNERS LIKE PALOMA TREJO ARE MAKING THEIR NEXT STOP A BIT MORE PERMANENT.

ACT 1: Paloma Trejo (:07)
“We always had the idea of doing a store front, and we used the food truck as sort of like the vehicle to get us here.”

TRACK 2:
TREJO STARTED SWEET ADDICTION, EL PASO’S FIRST DESSERT TRUCK, IN 2012.

[Nats, street, bell, “good to see you”]

AFTER FOUR YEARS ON WHEELS, TREJO OPENED HER BAKERY IN A 1950’s STUCCO BUILDING ON PIEDRAS STREET IN CENTRAL EL PASO.

ACT 2: Trejo (:27)
“I honestly believe with all my heart that if I would have had the money to start a bakery, and if I would have just, you know, up and opened the bakery I would have probably been one of those people that is out of business within the first year, you know, or two. I don’t think I would have made it.”

TRACK 3:
FOR FIRST-TIME BUSINESS OWNERS LIKE TREJO, FOOD TRUCKS OFFER THE CHANCE TO EXPERIMENT AND LEARN WHAT CUSTOMERS LIKE.

ACT 3: Trejo
“it was through the food truck that we figured out that we like doing seasonal flavors and that people were kind of into that.”

TRACK 4:
THE TOP SELLERS FOR THE TRUCK ARE CUPCAKES THAT TREJO SAYS SHE’LL NEVER TAKE OFF THE MENU.

ACT 4: Trejo
“Right from the get go…our two most popular flavors are the churro and the red velvet. Those are the ones that everybody wants”

TRACK 5:
LEE ANNE VEGA AT THE EL PASO CHAPTER OF THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, SAYS TREJO IS AMONG MANY IN THE BORDERLAND TURNING TO FOOD TRUCKS TO START UP A NEW BUSINESS.

ACT 5: Lee Anne Vega (:06)
(17:19) “There is a boom right now and we see that a lot. We get a lot of traffic from people that want food trucks.”

TRACK 6: (:22)
ACCORDING TO FOOD INSPECTION DATA FROM THE CITY’S HEALTH DEPARTMENT, THERE ARE CURRENTLY MORE THAN 300 ACTIVE MOBILE FOOD VENDOR PERMITS IN EL PASO.

VEGA SAYS MANY NEW ENTREPRENEURS IN EL PASO DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO THE CAPITAL TO START A BRICK AND MORTAR BUSINESS. ACCORDING TO 2017 CENSUS DATA, THE AVERAGE ANNUAL INCOME IN EL PASO IS JUST UNDER TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, COMPARED TO A NATIONAL AVERAGE OF THIRTY ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

ACT 6: Vega (:26)
“You don’t want the majority of your- of your finances to go to overhead costs: to renting a space or all of the maintenance and upkeep that comes from that. So if you have a food truck the cost is minimal to get it going, and to move it around, and even just employee-wise you don’t need as many employees to keep a food truck running as you would for a brick and mortar location.”

ACT 7: Gabe Valencia
“It’s a much smaller risk with the bus.”

TRACK 7:
GABE VALENCIA CO-OWNS KAEDAMA, A SUCCESSFUL EL PASO RAMEN SHOP THAT STARTED IN A CONVERTED VW BUS.

ACT 8: Valencia
“If the bus had failed it would have been a small investment compared to the one that the restaurant was, so it was a nice little trial run.”

TRACK 8:
LIKE TREJO, VALENCIA FOUND THAT THE LOWER RISK OF THE FOOD TRUCK ALLOWED HIM TO EXPERIMENT WITH FOODS THAT WEREN’T COMMON TO EL PASO.

ACT 9: Valencia (:20)
“When we had just launched the bus we actually were kind of like an all-around Asian cuisine type deal. We had pho on the menu, we had banh mi sandwiches, we had steamed pork buns, …and eventually we just settled on it being a Japanese ramen bus”

(Nat sounds of outside Kaedema)
TRACK 9:
TURNS OUT, SETTLING ON RAMEN WAS A GOOD CHOICE. THE FOOD TRUCK TRANSFORMED INTO A RESTAURANT ON EL PASO’S WEST SIDE AND KEEPS SO BUSY A SIGN ON THE DOOR TELLS CUSTOMERS TO WAIT OUTSIDE UNTIL A SERVER GREETS THEM.

Ambi kitchen
THE TINY KITCHEN STAYS ACTIVE TURNING OUT BOWLS OF HOT RAMEN TO A FULL HOUSE.
(Fade out ambi)

TRACK 10: (:11)
TREJO ATTRIBUTES THE GROWING POPULARITY OF FOOD TRUCKS IN EL PASO TO A STRONG TRADITION OF STREET FOOD IN NEARBY JUAREZ, MEXICO..

ACT 12: Trejo (:10)
“A lot of us, you know, grew up in Juarez or come from Juarez where street food is sort of like a normal thing. You know we’re never scared of eating tacos on a street corner. We have that culture.”

BOTH VALENCIA AND TREJO SAY FOOD TRUCKS WERE ALSO A WAY TO SEE IF THEIR COOKING WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS.

ACT 10: Valencia
“A lot of people I think make really good food. People like their family and friends will tell them it’s good. And when they open the restaurant and it’s you know it’s the public. They don’t- they’re not forced to be nice and they might get different reactions”

ACT 11: Trejo
“it does give you that validity. It’s like ‘oh ok yeah. Here’s a total stranger and they love what I do,… and you know now they’re asking me where my location is.’ So you know you start to see sort of a demand for it.”

NATS 5: [Sounds of Trejo helping customers. ]

TRACK 11:
NOW IN HER OWN STORE, TREJO IS HAPPY TO BE WAITING ON A STEADY STREAM OF CUSTOMERS. SOME DAYS SHE HAS TO CLOSE EARLY, TELLING HER FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS SHE RAN OUT OF GOODS FOR THE DAY. THIS GIVES HER HOPE THAT SWEET ADDICTION BAKERY CAN BUILD THE KIND OF LOYAL FOLLOWING ENJOYED BY SEVERAL LONG-TIME, MOM-AND-POP FOOD SPOTS ON PIEDRAS STREET.

ACT 13: Trejo
“My hope is that the neighborhood embraces us as sort of like a neighborhood go-to place. You know like very much like Kiki’s or Gussies or like Papa Burgers, like you know those are places that have been here forever and it kind of goes through, like, generations.”

TRACK 12:
TREJO’S TRUCK IS PARKED BEHIND THE BAKERY. SHE HOPED TO USE IT FOR CATERING EVENTS, BUT IS TOO BUSY KEEPING UP WITH THE DEMAND AT THE STORE. FOR NOW, SHE’LL LET THE CUSTOMERS COME TO HER.

TRACK 13: (:03)
FROM EL PASO, I’M NICOLE MADRID.

Click hear to read Food trucks leverage border street food tradition into storefront businesses

Categories: Local Blogs

Calling It Now

Max Powers - Mon, 01/13/2020 - 2:26pm
Based on absolutely nothing, I am calling the race in Perez v Holguin for Perez. Vince will get 60+. No run-off. In the race between Tomatillo vs Ordaz Perez, I am calling it for Tomatillo. She is going to win. It is only the xenophobes who do not like Tomatillo.... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

Danger at night

ElPasoSpeak - Mon, 01/13/2020 - 6:00am

This came in from Helen Marshall:

I am increasingly reluctant to drive at night, and one reason is the growing number of bicycle riders, joggers and walkers who are out after dark in all-black gear, no lights on their bikes or helmets, not even a white sock or scarf.  Do they think that because they can see my car I can see them?  Last night someone in all black clothing ran across Mesa, not far from the Brentwood intersection where he or she would have been able to cross with a traffic signal.  If I had hit that person it presumably would not be my fault…I was traveling under the speed limit…but I’d have nightmares about it for the rest of my life. If you are one of these invisible persons, or know someone who is, PLEASE tell them to carry something bright, put a light on their bicycle, SOMETHING! Maybe the bicycle riders groups could discuss this…. *********************************** We deserve better Brutus
Categories: Local Blogs

Immigrant Nation

EPN - Border Analysis - Sun, 01/12/2020 - 11:00pm
The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. Unless a U.S. citizen can trace their lineage […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Hurry up and wait.

ElPasoSpeak - Sun, 01/12/2020 - 6:00am

I went to pick up someone from the airport around 8 PM the other night.

The lighting and holiday decorations were beyond nice–they were impressive.

Unfortunately my passenger and his fellow travelers had to wait 55 minutes to receive their luggage.  When he asked why he was told that the airport had only one baggage crew on duty that night.

There was a time when your bags would be on the conveyor before you could walk from the gate to the luggage area.

That left a favorable impression on people about El Paso.

I don’t know who the baggage handlers work for.  If they work for the airlines the airport should require them to staff adequately.  If they work for the airport then the airport managers should see to it that passengers get their bags quickly.

Airplanes arrive on a schedule.  This should not be hard to figure out.

It is hard enough for us to get out of town business people to come to El Paso.

This would be a step that would help.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

RumpToons No: 167

EPN - Border Analysis - Sat, 01/11/2020 - 11:00pm
I hope you enjoy RumpToons No: 167!
Categories: Local Blogs

Open line Saturday

ElPasoSpeak - Sat, 01/11/2020 - 6:00am

What’s on your mind?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Children of color already make up the majority of kids in many US states

Borderzine - Fri, 01/10/2020 - 10:16pm

By Rogelio Sáenz, The University of Texas at San Antonio and Dudley L. Poston, Jr., Texas A&M University

Demographers project that whites will become a minority in the U.S. in around 2045, dropping below 50% of the population.

That’s a quarter-century from now – still a long way away, right?

Not if you focus on children. White children right now are on the eve of becoming a numerical minority.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that, by the middle of 2020, nonwhites will account for the majority of the nation’s 74 million children.

Children in 2018

The share of the U.S. non-Hispanic white population has fallen since the mid-20th century.

Between 2010 and 2018, the number of white children fell by 2.8 million, or 7.1%. In contrast, nonwhite children grew by 6.1%.

In 2018, the last year for which data are currently available, the proportion of people in the U.S. under 18 years of age was just barely more white than nonwhite.

However, children under 11 were more nonwhite than white.

In almost one-third of U.S. states, nonwhite children outnumber all white children under 18 in 14 states – including Nevada, Hawaii, Georgia and Maryland – plus the District of Columbia.

Nonwhite children currently outnumber white children ages 0 to 4 in these 15 states and in Louisiana. In the next few years, the same will be true in North Carolina, Illinois and Virginia, followed a little later by Connecticut and Oklahoma.

In the coming decades, the percentage of all white children will drop – from 49.8% in 2020 to 36.4% in 2060.

A growing trend

Why will white children become the numerical minority?

We draw on the insights of demographer Kenneth Johnson and his colleagues to understand this trend.

First, the declining number of white children reflects the significant aging of the white population.

Whites in the U.S. have a median age of 43.6, much higher than those of all other racial or ethnic groups. Latinos, in particular, are much younger, with a median age of 29.5.

Slightly more than one-fifth of whites are age 65 and older, while elders account for only about one-tenth of nonwhites. Indeed, today in the U.S. there are more white elders than white children.

The older age of whites is mainly due to fewer white births than white deaths.
Between July 2017 and July 2018, there were 0.88 white births in the U.S. for every 1 white death. In the case of Latinos, the ratio was 5 births for every 1 death.

Whites also have lower fertility rates than most other racial and ethnic groups.

Even if white women increased their fertility levels, their actual numbers of births would not go up that much, because there is a shrinking number of white women of childbearing age.

Only 41% of white women aged 15 and older are in the childbearing ages of 15 to 44, when most births occur, compared to 57% of nonwhite women.

What the future holds

In the coming decades, people of color will have an increasing presence in all U.S. institutions, in higher education, the workforce and the electorate.

Americans are already seeing the consequences of these demographic shifts in higher education. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of white undergraduate students in the U.S. dropped by 1.7 million, while the number of Latino undergraduates rose by 1.1 million.

In addition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections show that, between 2014 and 2024, the white share of the civilian labor force is declining, while the share of nonwhites is estimated to rise.

Furthermore, people of color will increasingly be part of the voter rolls and slates of political office seekers in the coming decades.

Despite these expected changes, one thing is certain. The white population is not going to disappear. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that whites will still be the largest racial or ethnic group, accounting for 44.3% of the nation’s population in 2060 and outnumbering Latinos, the second largest group, by 67.9 million.

The reality is that whites will not dominate demographically as they have throughout most of U.S. history, when they accounted for as much as 90% of the country’s population. Roughly speaking, the share of the U.S. white population in 2060 will be the same as it is now in Las Vegas, about 44%.

Rogelio Sáenz, Professor of Demography, The University of Texas at San Antonio and Dudley L. Poston, Jr., Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Categories: Local Blogs

Entrepreneurial spirit flourishes at El Paso’s farmers markets

Borderzine - Fri, 01/10/2020 - 9:48pm

Farmers markets in El Paso provide not only local produce, arts and entertainment, they also bring entrepreneurial opportunities.

Mother and daughter, Mary Maskill and Arianna Romero, operate Pretty in Lemon, a lemonade stand that can be seen at nearly every farmer and artist market location.

“I’ve always wanted to open a business. It’s been a dream of mine to open my own business. It’s awesome to be your own boss,” said Romero, whose parents helped her open the lemonade and simple syrup stand.

Maskill shares her daughter’s space with her own business called Pretty in Paper. She says her husband hopes to one day open a hot dog or bratwurst stand.

“He said ‘maybe we can be right next to each other and you can sell the drinks and I sell the food,’ she said. “Hopefully one day that will happen.”

There are farmers markets on Fridays at Fountains at Farrah, Saturdays at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing, Saturdays Downtown, and Sundays at the Hobby Lobby in the Upper Valley.

Romero said the hardest part of selling at markets throughout the weekend is getting the booth set up.

“You can show how proud you are of your business by how it looks and how you present yourself. But we move our store everywhere, so we pick up everything. We pick up the tables, the water, everything. Hauling it back and forth is heavy work,” she said.

Harold Shumate is a honey producer with New Mexico Desert Farm who sells honey made by local bees.

“The honey comes from different flowers. I have my bees where I have at least 100 acres of just those flowers, so the bees will only go to those flowers. That’s the way I can control what kind of honey I get. I have mesquite honey from mesquite bushes, Palo Verde, alfalfa, catclaw, cotton, rose,” Shumate said.

He cautions shoppers to know how to tell they’re getting the real thing.

“If the honey doesn’t taste like the flower it comes from, it’s not real. All honey comes from a flower, so it must taste like the flower it comes from. If it’s only sweet, you just bought corn syrup,” he said.

He also touts the benefits of honey.

“The honey itself has lots of good properties. Honey will heal a cut faster than anything you can buy in stores. Honey has natural antibiotics, enzymes, folic acid, tremendous amount of benefits raw honey has.”

Two years ago, Shumate began selling CBD oil in addition to honey.

“A lot of people are buying CBD oil as a way to manage pain,” he said.

He isn’t a reseller of the CBD oil, but makes his own.

“I have a lab report from a third-party so you know exactly what you are getting. There are so many people out here selling CBD oil, it’s unbelievable. All they do is buy it, resell it, or put a different label on it and resell it. They don’t know what’s in it, they don’t know their quality, they don’t know how much is really there or not,” he said.

Max Rapaport sells melons, chilis, and other produce at farmers markets for Grow Wild at Sierra Vista Growers.

“I used to be a chef for many years in Colorado where the market culture was very strong, the farm-to-table movement. In my background, I worked in a lot of restaurants where all of the food that we use, as far as produce, was grown within 100 miles of our restaurant. When I moved here, I was hard pressed to find a good market culture with fresh vegetables fresh produce, organically grown and responsibly harvested,” he said.

Rappaport started gardening in his back yard, then “I found Sierra Vista Growers where I started selling house plants, trees, everything that we have there, flowers. From there it kind of grew organically to what you see here.”

In addition to sales, the farmers market culture appeals to vendors.

“I enjoy making the drinks,” Romero said. “I enjoy making the lemonade, but my favorite part is the people. Oh my goodness, so many sweet people and so many friends that we make by doing this. It’s awesome how this community supports each other.”

Maskill agreed.

“My nephew told me one time, ‘You guys are lucky because you guys are actually doing what you’ve always wanted to do’ so it’s a privilege to be able to, maybe not become rich but be happy. We love meeting people, we have made a lot of friendships.”

Click hear to read Entrepreneurial spirit flourishes at El Paso’s farmers markets

Categories: Local Blogs

Ex-convicts use Real Talk program to put El Paso youth on better path

Borderzine - Fri, 01/10/2020 - 9:17pm

A motivation program for children and teens called Real Talk that features conversations with felons and individuals convicted of crimes recently launched in El Paso. The project goal is to steer borderland children and teens away from dangerous lifestyles by getting them to engage in honest and open conversations with former convicts about the dangers of drug abuse, gang life, and crime.

“The ultimate goal is to try and save as many kids as we can,” said Real Talk founder Sheree D. Corniel who launched the first project in Las Vegas in 2013.

Corniel, who has 20 years of experience working in law enforcement as a U.S. probation officer and juvenile parole officer, said she hopes to launch additional branches of Real Talk at cities across the U.S. El Paso is the second Real Talk location.

Even before the program’s official launch next month, Julian Morales, whose hard work and perseverance helped bring the non-profit program to the Sun City, and other Real Talk presenters have visited local middle and high schools to promote the program to students and parents. They also held a special event at Cesar Chavez Academy, a local school for at-risk students.

Presentations with ex felons are a a major feature of Real Talk. Former felons share their life stories, talk about how they became involved in a gang or in crime and urge youth to stay on the right path. The former felons’ crimes vary from murder, robbery, driving while intoxicated and other brushes with the law.

“We want to be a beacon of hope for the felons that are coming out, raising their hand, wanting to do something positive,” said Morales, who spent more than a decade in prison for a drug crime and other felonies.

He added that believes bringing the program to his home city will help save the youth who are on the same destructive path that he went down and provide them positive alternatives such as after school activities to keep them busy and off the streets.

Born and raised in El Paso, Morales said he learned about the Las Vegas program and after numerous calls to Corniel she agreed to allow him to open a branch in his home city if he first obtained permission to open a non profit. Morales received the legal permission last January.

Real Talk EP is open to children ages 8 to 18 and consists of three initial classes at the Southwest University Auditorium, on the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.

Parents attend the first class with their children and participate in discussions with a parenting group, while the youth attend their first Real Talk session.

Although parents are not required to attend every time, the children and teens who join the program must be accompanied by an adult every time.

Real Talk sessions consist of a female and two males offenders. During the sessions, they share their stories with youth in hope that their personal examples will keep them from making the same mistakes. Individuals who have been charged with any kind of sexual assault or child endangerment are excluded from participating.

Real Talk EP presenters and volunteers during a presentation at Cesar Chavez Academy in El Paso, Texas on October 9th, 2019.

In 2017 there were 400 reported felonies committed by juveniles from the ages of 10 to 16 in El Paso County. The number increased to 465 in 2018, according to the website epcounty.com. Over 100 of the felonies committed by juveniles in 2018 were for burglary and 58 were categorized as drug offenses.

In addition to participating in the conversations and receiving guidance, students and parents who meet the requirements can apply for a monthly stipend of $150 to use for after school programs or STEM projects, sports equipment, or time in a recording studio.

To qualify for the stipend a participant must have at least a 2.0 grade point average, the parent has to volunteer a minimum of 20 hours a year, and the youth has to volunteer a minimum of two hours a month by helping out at Real Talk events.

All young people ages 8 to 18 are eligible to participate in the Real Talk program, not just those considered at risk. The program is also open to students who excel in school but may not have funds to participate in extracurricular activities.

For more information contact Real Talk EP at (915) 253-9865 or by email at info@realtalkep.org. You can also follow them on Facebook by searching for Real Talk EP or visiting the website at www.realtalkep.org

 

 

 

Click hear to read Ex-convicts use Real Talk program to put El Paso youth on better path

Categories: Local Blogs

Growing up along with the rise of emojis and gifs

Borderzine - Fri, 01/10/2020 - 9:13pm

If there is one thing that I have noticed about my life, it is that language has been changing.

Being part of a generation practically obsessed with social media has made me and millions of others aware that these platforms are no longer just about posting that perfect selfie or unfriending that one person because you feel petty. It has made me realize that online culture has influenced the way I, and most millennials, write.

We are hooked on the screens of our computers, tablets and phones, which makes it inevitable that formal writing is just not a common thing anymore. There are new words and new meanings of old words – not to mention several ways to respond to someone online.

What started out as a handful of simple acronyms like LOL (laughing out loud) or BRB (be right back) has now turned into an alphabet soup of words and letters that can seem more like Morse Code than conversation.

“This new variant of written English strives to convey what body language, and tone and volume of voice can achieve in spoken English,” Dr Lauren Fonteyn, English Linguistics lecturer at the University of Manchester told Mashable.

Back in my early days it seemed like sparking up a conversation was as simple as “Hi, how are you.” Language was more simple, formal, and understandable. When I look back and compare to how conversations went, it feels language lacked emotion. Nowadays, writing in all caps exudes more emotion than the simple exclamation mark that was used before.

Over time, it seemed all the cool kids and trendy people came up with unique ways to create a spunkier way of talking, whether that be through a note being passed to a friend in class, or an AOL dial-up chatroom.

Keeping up with all these changes takes a lot of work. I clearly remember scavenging through the web trying to figure out what on earth “being skinny” meant, only to find out it didn’t only mean being physically slim, but also meant being iconic. Or, the first time my friends asked me to spill the tea. No, they weren’t asking me to spill actual tea made out of actual tea leaves, but to spill any good gossip I had.

 

Another trend that has slowly taken over is meme and gif responses. Sometimes, it isn’t right to just respond with, “omg I am speechless.” Instead use a meme.

The uses of memes and gifs, even emojis, have made the language we use through technology quicker, funnier, and more modern.

At the first international workshop on Emoji Understanding and Applications in Social Media, known as Emoji2018, researchers gathered to show how emoji and other forms of modern communication are changing the way we communicate online. According to Instagram, “by 2015, more than half of all comments on Instagram posts included at least one emoji.”

Although there is a right time and place to use this informal medium, using too much of this internet language and conversation can lead to having a casual attitude toward grammar.

The language on social media can hinder your way of having a decent and normal conversation. Join a spelling bee or read the dictionary once in a while, you’ll find that most internet slang and conversations lack punctuality, correct syntax, and other communication tragedies.

If you feel you’re left out of this bubble, don’t fret, Urbandictionary.com is your friend. If there’s anything you want to know that just has you in complete confusion, there are plenty of online dictionaries that can help you stay trendy and be one of “those” people.

Click hear to read Growing up along with the rise of emojis and gifs

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–no limits to their spending

ElPasoSpeak - Fri, 01/10/2020 - 7:57am

Take a look at this EPISD report:

The voters authorized bond sales of $452 million.

At the beginning of 2019 they had issued $200 million and had spent $42 million.  That left $158 million unspent.

In 2019 they spent another $72 million leaving $86 million unspent  going into 2020.

Why then did they sell another $252 million in 2019 when they had $86 million sitting around?

Interest

When they sold the $252 million of bonds they were able to put the money into interest bearing accounts.  So far they have generated almost $12 million from  interest.  The taxpayers are paying interest on bonds that have not been spent on construction.  The district is getting interest on our unspent money.

The net effect is that they have been able to add $12 million to their budgets.

Unfortunately that is not enough to cover their planned spending.

The report shows that even after getting the extra $12 million from us they are still $13 million short.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso Desperate For Money

EPN - Border Analysis - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 11:00pm
For most El Paso readers it should come as no surprise that the city’s water utility is looking […]
Categories: Local Blogs

How border journalism learned the value of Spanish and local reporters

Borderzine - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 11:20am

A conversation with father and son journalists in El Paso. Aaron Bracamontes, digital content director for KTSM 9 News, interviews his father, Ramon, former El Paso Times managing editor, about the not-too-distant past when Hispanics and the Spanish language weren’t reflected in the makeup of the city’s largest newsroom.

Transcript

Aaron Bracamontes:  Me and you have kind of talked about it in the past. The El Paso Times I started at and the El Paso Times I left wasn’t the same El Paso Times that you start at. What was newspaper like here in El Paso when you started ,or just journalism in El Paso at the time?

Ramon Bracamontes:  Journalism in El Paso, a long time ago, was an amazing, an amazing competitive career. There were two newspapers in El Paso. The El Paso Herald Post, which published every afternoon, published every day except Sundays. And then the El Paso Times, who I worked for, was the competition.

And it was, we were housed in the same building with only a hallway dividing us. And it was competition to beat them in the stories. It was competition to get the story first, competition to get the investigation first. And it was a badge of honor every day if you could scoop your fellow police reporter. And it was great.

The other big difference now that, from back then to now, is that the El Paso Times was considered a major newspaper in Texas, in the United States. It’s still a major newspaper, but the difference is we used to cover the Olympics, we used to go cover the Super Bowl. We used to go cover national events. If there was an earthquake in Mexico City, we would get eight reporters, put them in an airplane and send them down to Mexico City to cover the earthquake. We did what big newspapers do now.

Because of the El Paso Times I’ve been able to see the world. I went, I was sent to Cuba to interview Fidel Castro, when he was in his prime in the ‘80s. I was sent to Europe to do stories out of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. I’ve been all over the country and all over the world because of my journalism and because the El Paso Times wanted to cover national and worldwide events, not just local, local, local.

Aaron Bracamontes: And it was Gannett back then, right?

Ramon Bracamontes: It was owned by Gannett. Yes

Aaron Bracamontes:  So speaking Spanish was a huge advantage for going down to Cuba and southern countries south of us, right?

Ramon Bracamontes:  Yes. The big advantage back then was Gannett was tied to the starting and the formation of USA Today and USA Today wanted to compete with the national newspapers. But, instead of hiring a staff of 500 people, they would rely on local reporters. And for a while for Gannett and for USA Today I was the unofficial, central South America correspondent for USA Today. It means anything that happened from south of El Paso all the way to Argentina, I would be sent to help with the news.

Aaron Bracamontes:  I think you’ve kind of one time mentioned, I mean, when I was at El Paso Times a year ago, there was Bracamontes, there was Martinez, there was Gonzalez, there was Borunda, there were a lot of, you know, a lot of Hispanic surnames. Was it like that back when you started? Or was it, I guess, did it represent El Paso as much?

Ramon Bracamontes:  When I started at the El Paso Times, it was 1984. The majority of the editors and the majority of the reporters did not speak Spanish. They didn’t think there was much of a need or value in somebody being able to speak Spanish. It has totally changed now. Everybody speaks Spanish.  Even the editors now, who didn’t use to speak Spanish, learned it, appreciated it and are moving now.

But the biggest misconception back then was that the reporters the El Paso Times hired to cover Juarez, were people that learned Spanish and learned about the Mexican culture and about the Hispanics, they learned it in universities away from the border. It was never a reporter who was born and raised in El Paso who knew Juarez like the back of their hand, just like they knew El Paso, like the back of their hand.

And that was the thing that I, and other editors as we moved up and got older. moved to change. We wanted natives from Juarez covering Juarez, we wanted natives from El Paso and Juarez covering both cities. And because of a lot of great editors the Times has had, starting with Paula Moore and Tom Fenton and Don Flores and Bob Moore. The culture there at the Times now is a lot of Spanish speaking and Spanish speaking is very much valued. It wasn’t in 1984.

It’s just amazing how life has changed. Back then speaking Spanish, being Hispanic was considered a negative and you had to work twice as hard to move up. Now if you speak Spanish, if you’re a minority, it’s seen as a positive and it’s, it’s a good thing to be able to speak both languages.

Aaron Bracamontes:  As you saw that change, what was it like? Did it feel like it was always heading in that direction or did it feel like it was a fight to get to that direction? Or did it feel like it was just a slow change?

Ramon Bracamontes:    It was a very slow change too, because it wasn’t just in the newsroom. It was happening throughout El Paso in the leadership. I remember that when I started in 1984, all the superintendents as a school district were Anglo – didn’t speak Spanish. Most of the elected officials except for maybe one in city council, were Anglo, not Hispanic. And most of the elected officials, the county attorney, the district attorney, were all Anglo – didn’t speak Spanish.

And I don’t know what year it was, but it was before 1990, it changed. All of a sudden, Jose Rodriguez became the county attorney and he spoke Spanish. Jaime Esparza became the district attorney, he spoke Spanish. A gentleman named Trujillo was named the superintendent in Ysleta School District and he spoke Spanish. Stan Paz was named the superintendent in the El Paso School District, and he spoke Spanish. So it took a long time, but in retrospect, it happened over night. All of a sudden you woke up and almost every other elected official was Hispanic. Almost every elected official spoke Spanish regardless of what their heritage was. And then the school districts were led by Hispanic speaking people, Hispanic people who spoke Spanish.

It hasn’t happened anywhere as fast as in El Paso, but in El Paso, it was a twofold. Because, and I don’t remember the years, it must’ve been the late eighties, early nineties, when we at the Times were experimenting about using Spanish words, maybe having a Spanish section, throwing in a Spanish word in the headline, throwing in a quote in Spanish. People were mad in El Paso at the El Paso Times for doing that. And we stopped.

But the reason we stopped and what really surprised me and others was that the people who got the most upset about seeing Spanish in the newspaper were Spanish speakers or Hispanics. And they said “I came here to learn English. I came here to become a part of the United States. I came here to acclimate myself. I want to read in English, I want to speak in English. I don’t need you putting Spanish in my daily newspaper in El Paso.” And I think that was why we pulled the plug on that experiment in the- I don’t know if it was the late eighties, early nineties, but we stopped putting Spanish in the El Paso Times. Instead, we went to a section by itself, delivered to certain neighborhoods.

Aaron Bracamontes:  One of the things that you always kinda told me that I still say today to reporters and editors is the reminder that as journalists, as much as we want to say we rough it sometimes, we still do live in the ivory tower because we have direct access to elected officials. We have direct access to CEOs.

But a big part of that, what you always tried to instill me, was know what the neighborhood says. And El Paso it was always kind of knowing the neighborhoods in El Paso, knowing the regular people who take their kids to games who, you know, go eat at the hole in the wall Mexican joints and knowing what they feel is the pulse of the city is a huge part of covering this town. How important was that? Or was bringing El Paso to El Paso through news. How important was that for you?

Ramon Bracamontes: That was always very important. Always very important. And I’ve been lucky that the editors that I worked for, gave me a seat at the table and they at least heard me when I said crazy things or things that I thought made sense. And one of the things I always pushed for was that we need, the El Paso Times and all the journalists, all the TV stations here, needed more Spanish speakers. More Spanish speakers, more Spanish speakers. And native El Pasoans are the way to go because El Paso is a different city.

I spent some time in Reno, I spent some time in Tucson. I spent time in Washington, D C, and El Paso is just a very different city, that is, I guess a small town in lots of respects. So you need the people that can relax and interview somebody’s grandma and interview somebody who is struggling to open a new store, a new shop, and a new little restaurant. And you need to bring those people forward because they have something to bring them to the table and you can learn from them. Others can learn from them by talking to them.

I am super, super competitive. So when I walked into the newsroom as a young kid out of UTEP and there were great reporters there, like David Landis and Gary Scharrer, or Ramon Renteria and David Crowder, who had been there awhile. My goal, and I would tell them, is that ‘I’m going to be your boss and I’m going to be better than you.’ So I learned from them and I learned how to do good stories. I learned from the editors who were helping me write stories like Ben Keck and John Moore and Dan Elliott. I observed them from all, I observed Nan Kick. I observed Kate Gannon, Bob Moore. And my goal was to take what they had and take my street instincts and my Lower Valley raising and my Spanish influence and mesh those things together. And I think I was able to do that, which is why  I was promoted real fast. I was sent around the world to talk to people. I mean, they, no matter what happened, if they needed somebody to go fast and mobile and get somewhere, it would be me.

It helped me get to where I wanted to get. I mean, there was one story when, a bunch of people from Aguascalientes, Mexico came to El Paso. They crossed the border illegally. They were put in a train in a boxcar and they were going to go to Dallas. The boxcar got stuck outside of Tornillo in 105 degree weather. And within a couple of hours, all 29 people in that boxcar died.

When they were sending them back home, I was going to – when they were putting them in caskets and sending them back home-  I was at the Juarez airport and I was doing the story. All I had was maybe 5 dollars in my pocket and a notebook. And one of the airplanes that was taking the caskets back, and the pilot, and it was the mayor or the governor of Aguascalientes. He had an extra seat in his little plane in his – I don’t know what kind of plane it was, it was small. And I said, is anybody going in there? Can I get in there? And I said it in Spanish and I said it real friendly and he said, “Yes, come on in.”

So I just got in the plane and I went to their hometown, which was in the mountains in Aguascalientes. Didn’t have a hotel room, didn’t have a credit card, didn’t have money. Didn’t have anything. But once when I got there, I befriended a family and said, ‘I have nowhere to stay. I am- I don’t know anybody in this town. I don’t have a hotel there’s no hotels here.” And they said, stay in our house. You can have the sofa, you can stay here. They fed me three times a day and I was able to send stories back every time.

So it was my street smarts, my Hispanic heritage that helped me get that. But then it was the journalism training that I got from Gannett and from my peers that would make me, that made me successful. That was able to mesh both of them.

 

Click hear to read How border journalism learned the value of Spanish and local reporters

Categories: Local Blogs

Cross-border romance led to marriage on international bridge

Borderzine - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 11:14am

La historia de una pareja separada por su situación migratoria. Sandra Lopez se regreso a Juárez después de descubrir que estaba viviendo indocumentada en Estados Unidos. Ella conoció a su esposo, Rodolfo, un ciudadano Americano, por internet. Ambos recuerdan cómo fue desarrollando su relación.

Translation: This is the story of a couple separated by their immigration status. Sandra Lopez returned to Juarez after discovering that she was living undocumented in the United States. She met her husband, Rodolfo, an American citizen, online. Both recall how their relationship developed.

Transcript (translated):

Introduction: The universities of UTEP and UACJ have collaborated this summer to gather stories from both sides of the border. Today we have the story of a couple separated by their immigration status. Sandra Lopez returned to Juarez after discovering that she was living undocumented in the United States. She met her husband, Rodolfo, an American citizen, online. Both recall how their relationship developed.  

Rodolfo: When did you find out that you were undocumented?

Sandra: I realized it when I was going to graduate from high school. That’s where it hit me. My counselor called me to say “hey, we have scholarships that they want to give you.” Ah, how fun, I said, How cool. But then he said, “but do you have Social Security?” And that’s when I was like, what is that? And that’s when I said “oops.” I wanted to continue studying, I wanted to study to be a judge.

Rodolfo: How were your first weeks, months living in Juarez?

Sandra: It was horrible because I came to a country I didn’t know. With no one to give you support, without knowing anything, and now what do I do? Where will I go to look for work? And I thank God that Sanborn’s was the one who gave me the opportunity. The manager told me, the amount you earned in the United States does not compare to here. The first time I grabbed my check, tears even rolled. Wow, I earned this in a single week. A whole week working hard. And earn $55 a week.

Sandra: Tell me about the first time we met.

Rodolfo: She brought her mother to the bridge. I bought flowers and brought my guitar. And I crossed.

Sandra: And what did my mom call you?

Rodolfo: Oh, Antonio Banderas. Because I arrived with the guitar and the flowers.

Sandra: I made you chile rellenos with rice and beans and there I was, cooking, and making everything look good and boom I ran out of gas. And I said, “what now?” I quickly called, because there where I lived I had an aunt who lived there, so I called her. “Aunt, you know what, this this and that…” “No mija, come here and we’ll make the chiles rellenos here so they are ready.” Well, there I go with my aunt, with pans and everything walking in the street to go and make the chiles rellenos. I prepared him a romantic dinner.

Sandra: When did you realize that you fell in love with me?

Rodolfo: Well, I remember talking to you and feeling sad to get to El Paso and not be able to visit you. You caught my attention, I needed you. 

Rodolfo: And where did we get married?

Sandra: Well, on the bridge.

Rodolfo: On the Santa Fe bridge.

Sandra: It was a totally unforgettable experience. Everyone looked at me weird. Just like, “Ah look, there’s a bride.” Well, I was already very nervous to walk all over the street and then go up to the bridge and then pay the booth. And then when I was arriving, it felt like eternity to get to the middle of the bridge. Finally, when he stretched his hand I relaxed. There, I’m safe. 

Rodolfo: What was the most difficult part of our relationship?

Sandra: Well, the separation. The separation that you are there and I am here.

Rodolfo: Still, right now?

Sandra: Even now that has always been the saddest part of our relationship. Not being able to be with you every night.

Rodolfo: And what are your plans for the future?

Sandra: I want to be able to fix my immigration status, to be able to go there and be with you. Of course we want to live as a family, as every normal family lives wherever they are together.

Click hear to read Cross-border romance led to marriage on international bridge

Categories: Local Blogs

A little bit of tax relief

ElPasoSpeak - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 6:00am

For those of you who were facing the requirement to make your first RMD (required minimum distribution) withdrawal from your retirement account in 2020 please be aware that the law changed in December.

Evidently now if you had not reached the age of 70 1/2 before December 31, 2019 the new age trigger will be 72 years old.  This lets you keep the money working for you an extra year and one half.  If you were 70 1/2 years old before January 1, 2020 the law stays the same.

The new law also allows people over 70 1/2 to continue making contributions to their retirement accounts as long as they have “earned” (payroll) income.

Contact your tax adviser to see if this applies to you.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Two Things Donald Trump Accomplished With Iran

EPN - Border Analysis - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 11:00pm
Donald Trump and his supporters believe that he is a great “negotiator” with business acumen that no one […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Truth to power

ElPasoSpeak - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 6:00am

There has been considerable discussion on the blog lately about commenters posting anonymously.

I wonder how knowing the commenter’s identity would change the discussion.

The Washington Post published this back in 2018:

… anonymous publication has been an essential feature of American democracy since its beginning. It has long allowed vulnerable voices to participate in public politics and speak truth to power. Indeed, anonymous debate was at the center of the revolutionary politics that led to American independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which enshrined the press freedoms that continue to protect anonymous speech today.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Lara Logan and Fake News

EPN - Border Analysis - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 11:00pm
Those that watch Fox News know that the station has been touting a new digital channel that is […]
Categories: Local Blogs

More disrespect from city council

ElPasoSpeak - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 8:03am

Aaron Montes of El Paso Times recently wrote this article about the district 6 city council representative.

It has been a while since we have seen this kind of reporting in the Times.

Thank you Aaron.

None of us can know what the city representative’s motives were.

From the outside it does look like she was using city money to promote both her and her husband’s political careers.

There evidently is a long standing city council rule that requires city representatives to get city council approval before spending their “discretionary funds” and in this case it appears that she spent the money without approval.

Some questions come to mind:

Why the heck do city representatives get any discretionary funds?

Does she have a city credit card and can thus spend money without going through purchasing?

If she did go through purchasing why wasn’t this caught?

Why doesn’t council do something about this?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs
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by Dr. Radut