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The CFE is screening us from solar power, but not for long

El Daily Post - Thu, 02/25/2016 - 2:08pm

Solar power and other renewable energy companies are finding that Mexico’s reform of its electricity sector is not all that was promised. That’s because power utility CFE is still getting political support that is effectively limiting competition. Consumers will have to wait to get access to low carbon electric supply options Mexico’s potential for solar power installations […]

The post The CFE is screening us from solar power, but not for long appeared first on El Daily Post.

Categories: Local Blogs

Feldman: Obama could taunt the Senate just as FDR did

El Daily Post - Thu, 02/25/2016 - 12:29pm

With the Republicans announcing they will refuse to consider any Supreme Court nominee Barack Obama might nominate, the president could emulate Franklin Delano Roosevelt and put forth a candidate to “trap” the Senate. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval could be that man.  U.S. President Barack Obama insisted that his post to Scotusblog on Wednesday about his criteria for a U.S. […]

The post Feldman: Obama could taunt the Senate just as FDR did appeared first on El Daily Post.

Categories: Local Blogs

All aboard? Mexico-U.S. aviation agreement is taking off

El Daily Post - Thu, 02/25/2016 - 9:49am

Once ratified, a historic agreement between Mexico and the United States will  change air travel between the two countries — for the better, most agree, though there are skeptics. Here’s how it will work, and what it means. In December 2015, representatives of Mexico and the United States signed the first aviation agreement between the […]

The post All aboard? Mexico-U.S. aviation agreement is taking off appeared first on El Daily Post.

Categories: Local Blogs

Mexico’s Pemex needs cash — and that can mean a sell-off

El Daily Post - Thu, 02/25/2016 - 8:22am

It wasn’t so long ago that the very idea of selling off its pipelines and oil terminals was unthinkable. But Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, is running out of cash, and it has to do something. With oil prices stuck near a 12-year low and output in free-fall, speculation is mounting that Petroleos Mexicanos will […]

The post Mexico’s Pemex needs cash — and that can mean a sell-off appeared first on El Daily Post.

Categories: Local Blogs

Marco Rubio is still holding up the U.S. ambassador to Mexico

El Daily Post - Thu, 02/25/2016 - 7:56am

And the Obama administration is getting more and more upset about it. Now it’s Secretary of State John Kerry who’s going after Rubio for “punishing” not just the nominee, Roberta Jacobson, and Mexico, but the United States. WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has veered into presidential politics by rapping Senator Marco Rubio […]

The post Marco Rubio is still holding up the U.S. ambassador to Mexico appeared first on El Daily Post.

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Univision fought with Trump, now it will register Latino voters

El Daily Post - Thu, 02/25/2016 - 6:30am

Univision criticized Donald Trump for his anti-immigrant rhetoric and settled a lawsuit after cutting its business ties with the real estate mogul. This week, it is announcing a voter registration drive whose goal it to register 3 million new Latino voters. Last summer, Univision went to war with Donald Trump after he called Mexicans drug dealers and rapists […]

The post Univision fought with Trump, now it will register Latino voters appeared first on El Daily Post.

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Closed for the Week

El Paso Politically - Tue, 02/16/2016 - 10:43am
I'm taking this week off from blogging. I'm having an early spring break with an old buddy in town. See you next week.
Categories: Local Blogs

No Three-Legged Monkey

El Paso Politically - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 6:01pm
I'm following up about my Ash Wednesday post. The bottom line is really simple: There won't be another Three Legged Monkey situation in this neighborhood. Nobody will lose a business and people will not be out of a job. As I stressed, the solution is just being good neighbors.
Thanks and kudos go to the El Paso police (led by one of my heroes, Leslie Canada) who really stressed good neighborliness. They told people what they as law enforcers could do and couldn't do about noise complaints especially with so many establishments in the neighborhood. They assured the neighbors that they would enforce the law. They also will reach out to the local bars to give them tips for keeping the noise indoors and not letting a decibel escape outside.
Thanks also goes to Jim Erickson, the President of the Five Points Business Association. He and other FPBA members who were at the meeting said that they really wanted to work with neighbors. Robert and Christina Estrada, who own Joe Vinny and Bronsons, told the audience how they want to be a community establishment. They aren't looking for customers from around the city. They are looking to be a community gathering which they already really are. Kudos to them for beginning the great Renaissance in the Five Points/Manhattan Heights/Newman Park neighborhood. 
Thanks especially to the neighbors who are willing to work with the Business Association, the police and the city do get better parking for patrons.
If any establishment wants to be a bad neighbor, they deserve to go under. I think most want to be in business and keep making this area proud.
Categories: Local Blogs

Ash Wednesday

El Paso Politically - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 11:57am
In an online Time Magazine article, Pope Francis’ Guide to Lent: What You Should Give Up This Year, Christopher J. Hale writes:

"In his annual Lenten message, the pope writes, 'Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.'


"Describing this phenomenon he calls the globalization of indifference, Francis writes that 'whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.' He continues that, 'We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.'"

I often look at the palatial estates occupied by two maybe three people around El Paso and wonder whether some of that wealth could be spent housing others. It is not that those who own such mansions are doing anything illegal. It's what Francis is saying about indifference. We've become such an Ayn Rand culture that we forget what it is to be a community and share things in common even simple things like air and water and food.

Too often I hear of special privileges for some at the detriment to their neighbors. This evening a new neighborhood association will meet at the police station on Raynor. They have assembled because a tavern in their neighborhood (the Pershing Inn) apparently believes that they are entitled to play loud music until three o'clock in the morning. I don't know if they have a right to have loud concerts until such early hours. I suspect that they don't and that a number of city officials including the police have turned a blind eye to the situation. I do know that the owners of the Pershing Inn are obviously indifferent to the needs of their neighbors. Would any of us blast our neighbors with high decibel noise into the wee hours of the morning? Of course not. We are good neighbors. The needs of our neighbors matter to us.

Whether one is a Christian or not, Lent is a good time to reflect on our indifference and then try to make a difference in the lives of others who are not as fortunate as ourselves. We must all remember that we share one inevitable trait in common: "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return." That dark night into which we all must journey by itself should give us compassion for the needs of others.

Categories: Local Blogs

Just Don't

El Paso Politically - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 3:47pm
Here's my advice about tweeting, texting, posting on Facebook, etc., during City Council meetings and in executive sessions: Don't. Just don't. Whether it is right or wrong, good or bad, legal or illegal, don't. In this day and age of social media transparency, your messages are never confidential. 

Mayor Leeser and El Paso want to attract good businesses to El Paso - businesses that provide good paying jobs - private sector businesses. When companies are thinking about relocating or expanding, they want confidentiality. They don't want to make employees unnecessarily anxious and they don't want to tip their hands to competitors. We want these businesses. They are good for El Pasoans. Think of all of the young El Pasoans who get solid training for better jobs and then can't find them because private sector businesses are afraid to relocate or expand to El Paso. 

Of course, there is another reason to turn off those cell phones if you sit on City Council. Too often in the recent past they have been used to pound on a perceived opponent. Rather than listening to each other, Council members are trying to score political points publicly. The meetings are no longer about solutions and policies, they are about politics.

So again, don't tweet, don't text, don't post on Facebook. Just serve the people of El Paso.

Categories: Local Blogs

Ed Archuleta for Interim City Manager?

El Paso Politically - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 4:50pm
Photo from elpasoinc.com
Here's the word on the street: Some prominent El Paso business people think that Ed Archuleta would make the best Interim City Manager if Tommy Gonzalez leaves. Certainly Mr. Archuleta comes with all of the qualifications and credentials to do a good job. He led EPWU for many years and was recognized nationally for his leadership and accomplishments. He served the El Paso Independent School District on its Board of Managers which navigated the school district through some very difficult times. He is currently doing some innovative work at UTEP. As an Interim CM he would be there for a limited time without having to be affected (or is that "infected") by the palace intrigue.

I do not know whether the talk is just wishful thinking or not. However, it does make you stop and think.

Categories: Local Blogs

EPEC Should Have No Role on a Regional Renewable Energy Advisory Council

El Paso Politically - Mon, 01/25/2016 - 4:34pm
Thanks to a discussion begun by Rep. Peter Svarzbein, the Council tomorrow will consider a resolution to establish a Regional Renewable Energy Advisory Council. (Item 28.1 on the agenda.) 

As stated in the back-up materials for this item, the background is: "The City of El Paso currently has no citizen advisory board relative to renewable energy. With the decreasing costs of providing alternative forms of energy (i.e. solar) to the general public, this board would explore current (national and regional) trends for municipal adoption of renewable energy programs, and how to incorporate best practices." 

You can read the summary, resolution and presentation HERE.

The one defect in the proposed composition of the Council is the inclusion of "a single technical advisor from the local electric utility as a non-voting member."

Given the fact that "[a]t least five board members appointed by the City
Council will be required to demonstrate a knowledge of, or experience in at least one of the following areas: engineering, architecture,energy management, utility infrastructure and sustainable building practice," why does the Advisory Council even need a technical advisor from the local electric utility?

El Paso Electric is being untruthful when it asserts that rooftop solar is not paying their fair share for infrastructure - either generation or transmission. In fact, they are reducing the need for generation stations. First, EPEC uses a small percentage of their generating stations yet feels a need to continue to build expensive power plants. (Is it because they are planning to sell more energy back to the grid and make you pay for it?) Secondly, EPEC continues to invest in outdated natural gas power stations which are water guzzlers. The mining of natural gas through fracking is destroying ecosystems, aquifers and wells, causing earthquakes and releasing methane gas, a climate warming molecule more powerful than carbon dioxide. This is not renewable energy. EPEC's business models are like the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. They don't belong in this modern age.

Rooftop solar actually adds value to the grid. Yet users receive no more than a few cents for the electrons that they produce while the electric utility sells those same electrons for a nearly 500% profit! 

Now El Paso Electric has taken their rate case before the Texas Public Utility Commission. They want to charge all of us more AND they want to put solar users in a separate rate class and charge them an excessive amount for the fewer electrons that they buy from the utility. By the same logic, shouldn't EPEC charge customers with energy saving appliances more than others? Simply put, EPEC wants to eliminate its competition: the solar industry. They are part of a national cabal of petroleum, gas and coal producers who want to stop the solar industry. 

Bottom line: given the fact that the El Paso Electric Company wants to destroy the renewable solar industry in El Paso, they should have no part in a Regional Renewable Energy Advisory Council.

Categories: Local Blogs

Unchain the Dogs

El Paso Politically - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 4:48pm
No. The title is not metaphorical. I literally mean "unchain the dogs". You have probably heard on the news or read online at the Herald Post the story that Las Cruces passed an ordinance last week that puts severe restrictions on . . . well, restricting dogs with a tether of whatever kind.

As you also probably know El Paso's City Council has recently made strides to make the city's animal shelter a no-kill shelter. It would be great if Council would now follow this up with an ordinance similar to the one Las Cruces just passed. We all know far too many instances in our City where dogs are chained - many for 24/7 365 days of the year. It's wrong.

Archived on the web is a site that asks a very poignant question: "We have many forms of entertainment: movies, music, friends. Your dog only has YOU. If you can't give a dog a good life, should you have one?"

Also check out the Texas Humane Legislation Network. And Animal Advocates.

If someone doesn't have a yard that's fenced off where a dog can have room to run and play and doesn't allow the animal to come into the house and be with and sleep with the "pack", then that person should probably not have a dog.

BTW, I'm an avid cat lover. But I love all animals and it breaks my heart when I see dogs chained up. They want love just as you and I do.



[If you get elpasopolitically by email, the video won't be embedded. Go to www.elpasopolitically.blogspot.com to view.]


Categories: Local Blogs

Whoever is dishonest in a very little...

El Paso Politically - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 5:36pm
For all of the ten years that I have been a blogger, I don't think that I have ever quoted Scripture. I too often have found that those who quote scripture usually quote it as some "proof" for their argument and they usually quote out of context. However, today I'm making an exception. There is a wisdom saying attributed to Jesus in St. Luke's Gospel: "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much." (Luke 16:10)

It has been said on the blogosphere that the chump change of $9,000 or so spent on speed humps at Cathedral and the efforts to replace First Southwest which never came to fruition are somehow picayune. But they aren't. Granted, the impact of these ethical lapses wasn’t great, although had it been successful, replacing First Southwest in the manner attempted would have had more serious consequences.

Let's start with the speed humps. Some have said that they were placed there to protect children rather than appease rich Cathedral donors. Please tell me when any child has been harmed by traffic at Cathedral High School. Please document one instance. (And please tell me how many “children”—as opposed to adolescents—attend this or any other high school.) There is plenty of space for drop-offs and proper places for pedestrian crossings. No, the humps were done as a political favor with the wink that donations are always accepted. And, yes, that's just politics. But, no, it's not ethical, especially given the fact that the head of Streets and Maintenance pointed out that it violated rules, making it also illegal.

Now let's turn to the Romero-Gonzalez attempt to cancel a contract with First Southwest and give it to Estrada Hinojosa. Again the entanglements are just politics but politics of the worst kind. The only reason the R&G cabal failed was because they got caught. Again, here's my parable:

"Once upon a time in a galaxy pretty damn close to home, two men decided that they would rob the First El Paso Bank & Trust. They donned ski masks and armed themselves with semi-automatics. They stormed into the bank and demanded the tellers empty their drawers and that the bank manager take them into the vault. It occurred to them suddenly that they might get into a lot of trouble. The sounds of sirens in the distance was their first clue. So, they decided to abort their mission. On leaving empty-handed they said: "Sorry for the mistake. But, hey, no harm, no foul."

If someone is unethical in little things, that person will be unethical in big things. Or, as Jesus said: "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much."

Of course, City Council is largely to blame for the dysfunctions in the city—perhaps even more than our part-time City Manager who, to his credit, has cleaned up the worst department: Engineering. Their infighting and palace intrigues have done El Pasoans no good and constitue a separate issue. For now and until the investigation is finished, the focus is on Romero and Gonzalez. 

If Council had the guts, they would have fired Gonzalez already. Instead they need the CYA of the investigation especially while attorneys figure out just how much the City will have to cough up to cancel Tommy's contract. It's all politics and it is no good. And please don't tell me that there aren't good people out there who can do good things. There are. 

Categories: Local Blogs

Who's Minding the Store?

El Paso Politically - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 4:42pm
The Halcyon Gallery in London which sells "distinguished" art collections to their clients.
Better yet - Who's minding the museums? Here's the rundown:

El Paso Museum of Art - NO Director
El Paso Museum of Archaeology - NO Director
El Paso History Museum - NO Director

Once again in order to "save" the city some dollars, part-time City Manager, Tommy Gonzalez, slashes jobs (important jobs) rather than truly streamlining processes. So, who's minding the museums? Tracey Jerome, an art gallery director and now the Director of the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs (MCAD). The only problem is that there is a big difference between running an art gallery and curating an art museum not to mention a museum of archaeology and a history museum. 

One keen El Paso observer of city management said that the lack of directors at all threee museums "makes for a pretty culture-less climate."

Jerome was the Director of the Halcyon Gallery in London, a modern and contemporary art market. Exhibitors include Dale Chihuly, Bob Dylan (yes, that Bob Dylan), Wu Jing Ju and others. 

Russell Young banner on www.halcyongallery.com
Currently the featured exhibit is artwork by Russell Young. Halcyon boasts: "With over thirty years of experience in the art market, Halcyon Gallery is committed to building distinguished art collections for our clients." (Will someone please check to see if the Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth and José Cisneros paintings are still hanging at the museum?)

Curators of specialized museums (history, art, archaeology) must be expert in their fields. It is one thing to run a gallery that caters to those who can afford expensive contemporary art collections and another thing to oversee ancient Native American artifacts and 13th Century European art.

Once again, Tommy G has short-changed El Paso.

Categories: Local Blogs

City Manager Violates Ordinance

El Paso Politically - Thu, 01/14/2016 - 4:19pm
I am a member and the vice-chair of the Open Space Advisory Board (OSAB). The ordinance establishing OSAB is quite clear about our duties and responsibilities. We are an advisory board that recommends actions to the City Council regarding the open space master plan. Simple enough.

At our meeting yesterday, we were given a quarterly review of pending motions (recommendations) that we have made to City Council. Here's a list and where things stand:

Natural Open Space Zoning District Revisions - "Awaiting direction from the City Manager's office regarding the placement of this item on a future City Council Agenda."

Two Rezones to the Natural Open Space Zoning District - "Staff will place both items on Council's agenda on the same day that Council hears revision to the NOS zoning ordinance." I.e., awaiting direction from the City Manager's office.

Land Adjacent to Keystone Heritage Park - "On-going." I.e., awaiting direction from the City Manager's office.

Resolution Regarding City-Owned Land Adjacent to Open Space - "Awaiting direction from the City Manager's office regarding the placement of this item on a future City Council agenda."

All of these recommendations are months-old. The first (revision of the NOS) soon will be a year-old. What's the hold-up? "Awaiting direction from the City Manager's office."

Although the ordinance establishing OSAB, passed by our elected representatives, clearly states that OSAB recommends to City Council, those recommendations can be kept from the eyes of City Council by the whim of our part-time City Manager, Tommy Gonzalez. (I guess that, when you also have demanding consulting work, you just don't have time to look at everything.)

Bottom line: Tommy Gonzalez is once again guilty of overriding the policies of City Council by thwarting an ordinance of this City.

These recommendations should be forthwith put on the Council's agenda. By ordinance, OSAB reports to the City Council not to Tommy Gonzalez.

Categories: Local Blogs

Nerves and Mordidas

El Paso Politically - Mon, 01/11/2016 - 5:03pm
My post last Wednesday (El Paso Doesn't Need Consultants to Run El Paso) hit some nerves. If you haven't read the comments, you might want to do so. All is not happy in Tommyland.

One comment stood out however:

"Well the years former CM Wilson was at the City and had 4 DCM's the critics were crying that we didn't need them, didn't understand why she had them and they all made around $170k each. So the new CM gets rid of that structure brings in 1 similar position - CPO and hires current staff at a lot less money to "assist" him. What's the saying? "Please all, please none". At any given time is some citizen that is a city hall watch dog going to accuse the city of corruption - yep. Define corruption and define who is actually corrupt. There are many of us citizens that truly believe the corruption is in the bowels of city hall among the long time staff that plays games with the users/vendors of the city - no matter who the CM is and their deputies. Council is too ignorant of the rules and processes to even understand how its being done and how to do it themselves. Even their staff has no clue unless they are career politicos like the one in Acosta's office. She gets it big time - she spent years at the county where corruption was king." [Emphasis mine.]

And, I agree - no matter who the City Manager is or who the CM's deputies are. We are moving into the far more shadowy realm of the mordida and other misdeeds. A former Parks official once confessed to me that he told vendors that, if they wanted to do business with him, they needed to grease his palm. Disgusting.

Here's the deal: If you have stories to tell about internal corruption, please feel free to email me at diegotolbert@gmail.com. You can also call me at 915-525-7364 and not even give your name. I promise that I will never divulge your identity. I'll just share your stories. 

Corruption in the "bowels of city hall" not only costs us as taxpayers, it costs us as business owners and workers and it decreases the wealth of our shared community. Time to end it. Now.

Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso Doesn't Need Consultants to Run El Paso

El Paso Politically - Wed, 01/06/2016 - 5:44pm
Want a high-impact speaker and facilitator? Call Nancy Bartlett of the Bartlett Alliance. Does the name sound familiar? It should. She's our city's Chief Performance Officer. She tagged along with our part-time City Manager from Irving, Texas to do a new gig in El Paso. She doesn't live in El Paso and heaven knows she has a consulting business to run. So the question must be: How much serious attention can she really give our city? 

I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of the thinking that El Paso is so bereft of talent, knowledge and experience that we’ve got to go way out of town to find such things as city leaders, contractors, consultants, artists, yada, yada, yada.

Categories: Local Blogs

Romero Resigns?

El Paso Politically - Tue, 01/05/2016 - 7:21pm
There are conflicting reports whether or not Larry Romero has resigned as the District 2 Representative. He had reportedly suffered a stroke before Christmas. The El Paso Times reported just a little while ago online, that Mr. Romero's doctor had advised him not to return to his job for at least a month.

Martin Paredes (El Paso News) released this statement from Romero:

"On December 19, 2015 Representative Romero suffered a mild stroke and has partial loss of movement in his right hand, leg, and mouth. His doctor has ordered that he not return to his City duties for at least 1 month to allow for recovery and rehabilitation, at that time his doctor will re-evaluate his condition."

City Hall insiders say that he has not resigned. One says: "Doesn't seem like he is resigning. At this point."

Categories: Local Blogs

Romero Reportedly Suffered Stroke

El Paso Politically - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 11:30am
It has been confirmed by a prominent El Paso commentator that District 2 Rep. Larry Romero suffered a mild stroke before Christmas. He was hospitalized for several days. This was apparently the reason for his missing the last 2015 City Council meeting before the holiday recess.

No matter what the current controversies surrounding him are, I join my fellow El Pasoans in wishing that he have a full recovery and good health henceforth. 

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by Dr. Radut