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City of El Paso debt=$2,670,400,000, county and school district debt=$1,600,000,000. Total $4.27 billion. Your share $19,350
Updated: 16 min 36 sec ago

City manager’s legal expenses

14 hours 26 min ago

A reader sent this in:

For your call to open topics, I wanted to point out  that the recent decision by City Council to retroactively pay for Tommy Gonzalez’s attorneys’ fees (from past ethics claims and his defense thereof) violates Texas law.   The Texas Constitution prohibits retroactive payments for past services to public employees, meaning City employees.  For support of this concept, see this web site and the sources it cites to https://fmx.cpa.texas.gov/fm/pubs/paypol/general_provisions2/index.php?section=retroactive&page=retroactive. When City Council recently decided to go back in time and pay Mr. Gonzalez for something in the past that was not previously agreed upon in regards to his past defense of ethics charges, they made a retroactive payment of the type prohibited by law.   The lone City Rep who was alleged to have leaked this deal was doing the public a favor, but no one seemed to notice that the payment was prohibited by law.   Not even the new City Attorney.  Just food for thought.
Categories: Local Blogs

Open line Saturday

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 5:00am

It’s open line Saturday.

Tell us what you are thinking.

Keep it clean and please don’t get personal.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Property tax cap

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 7:59am
This came in the other day: Brutus.      [P]  Here is another website you might consider adding to your list — since in this ongoing Texas Legislative Session — legislators will be looking at reducing the property roll back cap trigger down from it’s current trigger level of 8-percent  to a 2-percent trigger cap.  See — https://www.gregabbott.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PropertyTaxReform.pdf      [P]  Our local legislative delegation members will fight against lowering the cap — and Sunday night on the KVIA TV News Extra program — Senator Rodriguez indicated he is against it.  As he goes, the other members of the delegation will follow.  In addition, the city, county, UMC and school districthired lobbyists — will also raise objections and fight against any lowering of the cap.  The reality is — individual voters’ and property taxpayers — do not have hired lobbyists and others fighting for their interests.  Bottom line — that’s where your blog can create an impact!      [P]  The 2-percent level is most likely too low — so that cap trigger level may possibly be only a negotiating point — so legislators can compromise at a 4 or 5-percent trigger cap.      [P]  Since many of your faithful blog followers’ and creatively blunt posters — are pissed about always rising local property taxes, plus associated stupid spending — here’s a chance for them to get their ‘oars in the water’ — and let those state legislators outside El Paso who are pushing this issue — know there are El Paso voters’ and property taxpayers — who approve, plus appreciate and support their efforts. ————————————  Old Fart. POST SCRIPT:  Since you keep your blog updated each day — with a fresh topic for public thought and discussion — it is certainly better than the stale blogs of David K, Max Powers, Zorro and some of the others.  Therefore, it certainly seems you have a daily opportunity — to make your blog an action site — by posting interactive web links as you have just started to do. ************************************************* He is of course right. We need to speak up and let the legislators know how we feel. We deserve better Brutus
Categories: Local Blogs

Tell the city manager what you think

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 6:44am

The city web site does have a way the public can communicate with the city manager:

The city manager probably has an employee handle the messages that are sent in.

Hopefully he takes this seriously and communicates back to the sender.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Another tax increase coming from the city

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 5:00am

City council is in the process of approving ordinances that will allow them to issue new debt.

In 2017 the prior council raised the maximum debt rate to 35 cents per $100 of property valuation.

They evidently intend to bring us to the brink of that:

Don’t worry.  They can always raise the limit again.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

A message from our former congressman

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 5:00am

A loyal reader sent in this note from Mr. O’Rourke:

The government of the greatest country the world has ever known, the wealthiest, most powerful nation on the planet: closed until further notice.

This shutdown – hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans working without pay during the holidays, basic government functions no longer available to the taxpayers who fund them – didn’t have to happen. The Senate passed a compromise government funding bill two days ago, 100–0. The men and women who can’t agree on what to name a post office were able to unite and unanimously agree on how to fund the entire government.

But maybe it was intended to happen.

Maybe in the face of an investigation that seeks the facts surrounding allegations of collusion with a foreign government and obstruction of justice within our own government… as one aide after another pleads guilty… as the stock market tumbles… as men and women intent on keeping their dignity and their conscience flee his administration… perhaps the President calculates that by adding to the blizzard of bizarre behavior over the last two years and shutting down the government at Christmas, while his own party still controls each branch of it, the institutions that we need for our democracy to function (and to ensure no man is above the law) will be overwhelmed.

From a President who promised action, we got distraction.

But my concern for the country goes beyond the immediate pain and dysfunction that this shutdown will cause. Beyond even ensuring that this President is held accountable. What’s happening now is part of a larger threat to us all.

If our institutions no longer work, if we no longer have faith in them, if there’s no way to count on government even functioning (three shutdowns this year alone), then perhaps ultimately we become open to something else. Whatever we choose to call it, whether we openly acknowledge it at all, my fear is that we will choose certainty, strength and predictability over this constant dysfunction, even if it comes at the price of our democracy (the press; the ballot box; the courts; congress and representative government).

If there were ever a man to exploit this precarious moment for our country and our form of government, it’s Trump. Sending 5,400 troops to U.S. border communities during the midterm elections. Organizing Border Patrol “crowd control” exercises in El Paso on election day. Defying our laws by taking children from their parents, keeping kids in tent camps, turning back refugees at our ports. Calling the press “the enemy of the people” and celebrating violence against members of the media. Pitting Americans against each other based on race and religion and immigration status. Inviting us to hate openly, to call Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, to call asylum seekers animals, to describe Klansmen and neo-Nazis as very fine people. Seeking to disenfranchise fellow Americans with made up fears of voter fraud. Isolating us from the other great democracies as he cozies up to dictators and thugs. Lying again and again. Making a mockery of the United States – once the indispensable nation, the hope of mankind.

So we can engage in the immediate fights about blame for this latest shutdown… fall into his arguments about a wall, or steel slats, at a time of record border security and in the face of asylum seekers – our neighbors – fleeing the deadliest countries in the world… we can respond to his name-calling and grotesque, bizarre behavior… or we can pull up, look back at this moment from the future and see exactly what is happening to our country.

We are at risk of losing those things that make us special, unique, exceptional, those things that make us the destination for people the world over, looking for a better life and fleeing countries who lack our institutions, our rule of law, our stability.

If ever there was a time to put country over party it is now. This is not about a wall, it’s not about border security, it’s not about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about the future of our country – whether our children and grandchildren will thank us or blame us. Whether we will lose what was fought for, made more perfect, by the men and women who risked and lost their lives at Antietam, on Omaha beach, in Jackson, Mississippi… whether we will be defined by greatness and ambition or pettiness and fear. Whether we will continue to live in the world’s greatest democracy, or something else.

In the short term – let’s pass the funding bill that was agreed to by the Senate 100–0 just a few days ago. Send it to the President with the confidence that we represent the people of this country and that we are willing to override his veto if he cannot respect their will. Show that government can work, that we can see past our immediate differences to serve the greater good. To put country over party. To put country over one man. To do what we were sent here to do.

In the longer term – we must strengthen all of our institutions at the very moment they are called into question. Some clear opportunities for Congress: Ensure that our representatives in government reject PAC money, corporate and special interest influence. Demand that they hold town halls in our communities, listen to and respond to their constituents. Show America that they are working for us and for no one else.

Take action on the most urgent issues of our day: climate change, healthcare, endless war, income inequality, immigration, the vibrancy of rural communities and inner cities, education and criminal justice reform. Define the goal in each area, build the coalition to achieve it, find the common ground (between parties, between branches of government), and move forward. Prove that our system of government – whatever its problems – is still the best thing under the sun.

It’s action vs. distraction. One will save our democracy, the other will lead to its end.

Categories: Local Blogs

Just the facts ma’am

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 5:00am

A USA Today reporter from their Austin Texas bureau wrote a piece in the Times last week titled “Did border fence lower crime rates in El Paso?”.

She wrote:

“In his remarks, Paxton [the Texas attorney general] said El Paso had a high crime rate before the fence was constructed and that the rate of crime dropped substantially after it was completed.

That was not the case.”

Earlier in the article she told us that the attorney general had not specified which iteration of our border fence he was referring to.

Because he referenced border barriers erected under former president George W. Bush she concluded that he was talking about fencing authorized by congressional act in 2006.  She pointed out that the construction started in 2008 and was finished by mid-2009.

She wrote further:

“From 2006 to 2011–two years before the fence was built to two years after–the violent crime rate in El Paso increased by 17 percent.”

Would it be too much to ask her to tell us where she came up with that number?  Shouldn’t a reporter cite her sources?

This chart came from the El Paso police department’s 2011 annual report:

It was the case

According to the El Paso police department crime rates went down after the fence was built.  In fact the chart does not substantiate her claim of a 17 percent increase.

I don’t know if the reporter has ever lived in El Paso.  Those of us that lived here during that period of time know that property crime rates dropped significantly after the fence was built.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Tell them what you are thinking

Sun, 01/13/2019 - 5:00am

At the suggestion of one of our readers we have added a new tab to the menu bar (at the top of the page, under the masthead).

If you click on “Sound Off” you will find a list of contact points for some powerful government officials.

The reader suggests that we take the time to contact these officials and tell them what we are thinking.

So sound off please.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Open forum Saturday.

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 5:00am

The readers are doing a great job sending me private emails with links to articles about matters of interest.

I appreciate them all.

In an effort to get more of this information out I would like to suggest that you consider using the Saturday open forum opportunity to share your links with the rest of the readers.

Today is open forum Saturday.

Tell us what’s on your mind.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

County hospital being managed

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 5:00am

This came from the October 2018 county hospital financial statement:

For those who don’t know the term, “FTE” stands for full time equivalent, or the number of hours paid divided by 40.

The statement indicates that they have 208 fewer FTE’s getting paid.

It seems that our new administrator is looking out for us.

This is better.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

UTEP reaches top tier research designation

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 7:02am

Its great to be able to post some good news:

DATE: January 9, 2018
TO: All Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM: Diana Natalicio, UTEP President
SUBJECT: Top Tier National Research Designation

In 30 years as UTEP’s President, I have had the great pleasure to share good news with the UTEP family on many occasions. Today I am very pleased to announce a milestone that ranks among the most important and exciting of my tenure: UTEP has been elevated to the R1 level in the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education Institutions – the top tier of national research universities! We are among only 130 (4.5%) of the 2,883 four-year higher education institutions in the United States to earn this designation.

This achievement validates UTEP’s success in delivering on our access and excellence mission and speaks to our impact on the educational opportunities, quality of life and economic development across this region. It could not have happened without our outstanding faculty and staff members, the quality of their innovative work, and their success in securing funding to support it.

UTEP’s students and our alumni and friends have also played key roles in moving UTEP’s access and excellence mission forward. To all of you, we express our most sincere appreciation.

The press release below with additional details will be posted on utep.edu today. Please join me in celebrating this exciting news and sharing it with your friends and colleagues.

Go Miners!

Categories: Local Blogs

You asked for the job

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 5:00am

Mr. Max Higgs sent this in as a response to our post New year’s resolutions.

We asked what resolutions we would like our local government officials to make and keep.

1. Remember you asked for the job.
2. Remember all your employers.
3. Do your job.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Attracting industry

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 7:38am

Following up on the note about commercial property tax rates, let’s imagine that an industrial company wanted to move to El Paso and manufacture something.  Maybe they would like to make a component that one of the many plants in Mexico needs.

Or maybe the economic development people would like to attract a big manufacturer to town.

This might get in the way:

El Paso has the highest property tax rate for industrial concerns of the largest 50 cities in the United States.

Looking at the average rates we are close to twice as high.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

A little help here, please

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 5:00am

Can any of the readers tell us what the ramifications of this city council agenda item are:

A Resolution that 1) the City Council hereby supports the introduction and passage of legislation during the current Texas legislative session creating a municipal management district (“District”) encompassing the City-owned approximately 2,313 acres situated in the northeast part of the City of El Paso (“NE Parcel”) and exchanged with FSW Investments, LP (“FSW”) for approximately 44 acres situated in the northwest part of the City on November 13, 2018 through Ordinance No. 018871 provided that such legislation does not substantially differ from the legislation attached hereto as Exhibit A, which is incorporated hereby by reference and for all purposes; 2) the City Council hereby directs the City Manager to publish notice of intent to introduce legislation creating a municipal management district encompassing the NE Parcel as soon as possible, without waiting for closing on the land exchange transaction; and further directs the City Manager to submit legislation for the creation of said district following the required thirty (30) day waiting period following notice of intent publication; and 3) the City and FSW are currently negotiating a variety of issues regarding development of the NE Parcel and the District, which include without limitation, issues related to public improvements to be constructed, the method of financing of those improvements, and numerous other issues, which will require time to conclude. Therefore, this resolution in support of the legislation creating the District and directing the City Manager to initiate the District creation process does not constitute consent to the creation of this District as required by Section 59, Article XVI of the Texas Constitution, and the City specifically reserves the right to consent to the District.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Taxing us out of business

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 5:00am

Let’s say that our job is to recruit new businesses to El Paso.

How should we try to get around this?

According to the 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study from the Lincoln Institute El Paso had the 4th highest commercial property tax rates of the largest 50 cities in the United States.

If you look at our rates and the average rates we are generally 1/3 higher than the other cities.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Saturday is open for your input

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 5:00am

It’s open line Saturday.

What’s on your mind?

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Request for information

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 5:00am

Can anyone tell us if this is true?

When the city has construction work done for itself city inspectors do not check the work.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Best local government official

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 5:00am

The floor is open for nominations for best local government official.

Please tell us why you have nominated this person.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

New year’s resolutions

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 5:00am

If you could get a local government official to make (and keep)  a new year’s resolution what would it be?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Happy new year!

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 5:00am

We would like to wish everyone a safe, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Thank you for your continued interest.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut