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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: 47 min 3 sec ago

Times not paying attention

9 hours 58 min ago

Do they even read what the publish?

The deputy is in critical condition in a hospital.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–“Partnership Charters”

Sun, 03/24/2019 - 5:00am

EPISD is having a special board of trustees meeting Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at noon.  Having the meetings at noon makes it very difficult for a working parent or teacher to attend the meeting.

The number one item on the agenda:

Discuss and Take Appropriate Action on Board Policy ELA (Local): Campus or Program Charters, Partnership Charters (To adopt Board Policy ELA [Local] to allow the District to authorize partnerships with eligible entities/organizations to provide innovative schooling options for students)

Some of our readers can probably predict what they are up to.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Saturday is open comment day

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 5:00am

It’s Saturday, let us know what you are thinking.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

The city would like your input, please give it to them

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 5:00am

The city is conducting another “Chime In” survey.

This one is focused on next year’s budget.

Take the survey here.

Let them know what you think.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Destination El Paso documents some of its failures

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 5:00am

Only in El Paso!

The city’s Destination El Paso department provided this presentation as part of the backup material for a city council agenda item on the Monday, March 18, 2019 special city council meeting.

The special city council meetings are not well attended by the public so the city likes to handle things that they don’t want us to know about during those meetings.

The topic was a presentation about the results we have been getting out of the department.

One slide showed their measurements for fiscal 2018:

Then they presented their 2019 fiscal year slide.  The fiscal year starts in September.  The end of February would mean that half of the fiscal year had passed.

They point out a 14.6% increase in the number of people that attended conventions and meetings in 2019 over 2018.

What they don’t point out is the 14% drop in income in 2019.  Evidently getting people to meetings is important to them and the money that gets generated is not as important.

Then they tell city council what to expect for the rest of the year:

They show Sun City CRITS (“a premier cycling series”) will have 2,800 in attendance and will generate $1.1 million for the local economy.

RISE cycling symposium will have 2,500 in attendance and will generate $2.2 million.  This will be their inaugural event.  In other words they have never done this before and have no idea what their results will be.

Then they go on to tell us what to expect after this year:

The department did not address what the have for us in 2020 or 2021.  Instead they tell us that in 2022 they think some things will happen.  Add up the numbers, they aren’t very good.

Then they drop this slide on city council:

In the private sector changes would be made.  This however is El Paso.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–changing the game

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 5:00am

The EPISD board of trustees is having a board workshop on Monday, March 25, 2019.

The purpose of the workshop?

(To discuss Board Policy ELA [Local] which would allow the District to authorize partnerships with eligible entities/organizations to provide innovative schooling options for students)

Here is their proposed definition of a partnership:

A PARTNERSHIP MEANS A DISTRICT-AUTHORIZED CAMPUS CHARTER ESTABLISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH STATE LAW
IN WHICH THE BOARD CONTRACTS TO OPERATE A DISTRICT CAMPUS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AN OTHER ELIGIBLE ENTITY AS
DEFINED BY LAW.

They do propose to limit who they can partner up with:

THE DISTRICT SHALL PARTNER WITH  NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS, GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES, AND INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.  THE DISTRICT SHALL NOT CONSIDER APPLICATIONS FROM CHARTER SCHOOLS.

This is a game changer.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Taking a chance

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 5:00am

On the city council agenda for Tuesday, March 19, 2019 we have this resolution:

From the RISE web site:

With the inaugural event in June 2019, RISE has developed an innovative approach to identifying, developing and nurturing cycling talent in athletes of all ages and from all athletic disciplines.

Our overarching goal is to help these athletes become cyclists for life, and to help them achieve their personal cycling goals through the development of life skills, creation of a collaborative network of cycling experts, and improve athletic performance on the bike.

This is their inaugural event, yes the first time they have done this.

Evidently wanting to get in on a good thing the city is promising to pay the group $435,000 and to host the event for five years.

This might turn out to be a good thing but no one knows for certain.  In particular we don’t know if we will want the company or the participants to come back after the first year.

By the way the city promised to do this back in November we are only learning about the money this week.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–please learn to follow the rules

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 5:33am

Does the EPISD board of trustees do anything right?

The snippet below is taken from the bottom of a recent application to be placed on the election ballot for a district representative:

Notice that the bottom portion is “TO BE COMPLETED BY CITY SECRETARY OR SECRETARY OF THE BOARD”.

Who is the secretary of the board?  From the latest board meeting minutes that they have gotten around to publishing:

Ms. Carrasco is neither the city secretary nor the secretary of the board of trustees.

Do these people even know that there are laws controlling what they do and how they do it?

In this case Texas Election code 144.004.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso Times subscription costs

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 6:48am

This came in from a loyal reader:

 

Got my subscription [for the El Paso Times)] renewal  invoice in the mail yesterday:  $469.20.

 

I called the 800 number and spoke to JV.  He thanked me for being a long time subscriber (he insisted he was in El Paso, but sounded a lot like he was in Calcutta).  I said that I hoped the bill was for a five-year renewal period, but he replied that it was only for a year.

 

I pointed out that I paid $260 in 2016, $261 in 2017, and $330 in 2018.  I then asked to speak to someone with authority.

 

After a short pause to check, JV told me that he will send a new invoice for $336.

 

Candidly, the main reason I subscribe to the Times is that they deliver my Wall Street Journal.

Categories: Local Blogs

Your turn

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 5:00am

It’s Saturday so it’s your turn.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–Hiding their plans

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 5:00am

We have predicted several times that EPISD will have to raise their interest and sinking fund tax rate next year in order to pay for the bonds that the voters approved.

When the voters approved the “penny swap” in the last election they took ten cents per hundred off of the interest and sinking fund tax rate and switched it to the operations and maintenance tax rate.

That moved the operations and maintenance rate to the highest allowed by the state.  They cannot increase it without the state legislature changing the law.  That maximum is $1.17 per hundred dollars of valuation.

It also shrank the amount collected for bond repayment below the amount needed with our current debt.  We wrote about this in EPISD–will they get caught?

On the March 7, 2019 special board meeting agenda item 1.c was listed as “2019-2020 Debt Service Fund Projections“.

We’ve been waiting for this so we clicked on the link for the backup material that would explain what they are thinking of doing.

This is what we got:

They don’t want us to know, especially before the May elections.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

UTEP president

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 5:00am

There has been some criticism of the University of Texas board of regents’ selection for the presidency of UTEP, evidently coming from members of some gay communities.

I don’t know what discretion the president of UTEP will have over sexual preference issues at the school.

I can only imagine that at the first sign of perceived discrimination she will be faced with a lawsuit.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–district 6

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 5:00am

Some citizens have raised a concern about the residency facts relating to a candidate for EPISD’s district 6 seat.

The candidate, Mr. Freddy Khlayel-Avalos, seems to have a significant history of involvement with several community causes and might prove to be a dedicated board member.

His voter registration shows his home to be at his parent’s house on Canyon Run (district 6).

He owns a house on Centennial (district 6) that he may be renting out.

He shows his mailing address to be on Silver Springs in an apartment complex (district 7).

We invite him to clarify the situation for us.  We don’t want someone who appears to be a good candidate to lose votes because of misunderstandings about his residence.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD at it again

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 6:18am

In EPISD reinventing the wheel we mentioned an agenda item that would have allowed the district to spend more than a half million dollars to have a company write a software program that would be an “all-in-one enrollment solution”.  The money was to be for the first year of the effort.

Evidently Mr. Dan Wever noticed the item and contacted some board members who pulled the item off of the agenda.

The Times wrote EPISD audit finds ‘indicators of vendor favoritism’ related to bond contract in January of 2018.

Now we see an agenda item for a project that was not bid but that someone wanted to give to a vendor whose name was not even published.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Texas open meetings

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 5:00am

The Times published an editorial the other day that I agreed with.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals evidently invalidated the portion of the Texas Open Meetings Act that specified criminal penalties for members of government boards that arrange meetings with less than a quorum in order to avoid the requirement to make the meeting open to the public.

The Times editorial told us that our Texas Governor has written a letter to state board appointees and state agency chiefs telling them to “continue to follow the spirit” of the Texas Open Meetings Act without regard to the appeals court ruling.

Unfortunately our local governments are now free to meet in private and discuss public business as long as they do not have a quorum present.

We hope that our Texas legislature will take action soon to shore up the Open Meetings Act.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

A simple solution?

Sun, 03/10/2019 - 5:00am

I heard an idea that I liked the other evening.

The smart phone manufactures should change their phones so that if it is moving faster than a set speed (5 miles per hour?) the keyboard should be disabled.

How many lives would that save?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Open forum

Sat, 03/09/2019 - 8:14am

It’s Saturday so let us know what you are thinking about.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Welcome to El Paso

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 5:00am

It seems that Las Palmas hospital and the residents of the Rim road area have come to a settlement.

The city issued building permits that allowed Las Palmas to build a $67 million dollar facility.

After the facility was built the city refused to issue certificates of occupancy because of a parking capacity problem.

The permits should not have been issued but they were.

Many prominent residents of the Rim road area objected to allowing the building to be opened without additional parking being provided.

The hospital was stuck with a brand new expensive building that it could not open.

The paragraph below comes from a document proposing a settlement between the hospital and the neighborhood association.

Word on the street is that Las Palmas had to cough up some part of the $653,500 in order to get the residents to drop their objections.

At that point parking capacity was evidently no longer a problem.

The issue sailed through city council without mention of the financial settlement.  If granting a parking variance made sense it should have been granted without city council helping the neighborhood association to extract the extra money.

The way I see it city council helped the neighborhood to extort the money from Las Palmas.  Shame on them.

Word will get around.  Companies thinking about coming to El Paso will wonder what the city will do to them.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Ball park debt

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 5:00am

Several of the local media outlets told us the other day  “ballpark debt to be paid by 2021”.

Horse feathers!

What they should have told us is that the city thinks that the taxpayer funded subsidy currently necessary to pay the debt service might not be necessary in order to pay the debt service costs after 2021.

The city says that they believe that the combination of hotel occupancy taxes dedicated to the project and sales tax revenues generated from within the ball park will be adequate to cover the debt service costs after 2021.

The latest projection that we have been able to find from the city indicates that they will use hotel occupancy taxes and sales tax revenues to pay the mortgage until 2043.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Changing his tune

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 5:00am

This came in from Max Grossman:

“Our conclusion, based upon our public meetings, was that it is the [city] council’s obligation to take care of the basic infrastructure issues. The voters, however, should be allowed to decide how much more the city should invest in quality-of life.” –Dee Margo, Chair of the Ad Hoc Bond Committee, El Paso Times, April 2, 2000.
Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut