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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: 11 min 37 sec ago

YISD makes offer to furloughed federal employees

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 5:00am

Before the partial government shutdown ended (at least temporarily) the Ysleta independent school district made this announcement:

The announcement said that they would give priority to qualified furloughed federal employees if they want to serve as substitute teachers.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Tell us the rules up front

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 5:00am

The Times reported on an unfortunate situation the other day.

https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/2019/01/24/el-paso-las-palmas-hospital-addition-will-not-open-until-parking-battle-resolved/2652857002/

One of our hospitals went to the city and got permits to build $63 million worth of additions to one of its facilities.

Now the city is denying the hospital the right to open the facilities because of a dispute over parking.

This should have been handled as part of the original approval process.

We can all imagine the concerns investors (both in and out of town) will have when the city does this.

How can we attract industry from out of town when we do this to companies?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

The Times gets it right

Sun, 01/27/2019 - 5:00am

The Times published a good article about the city’s giveaway program for the proposed waterpark.

https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/2019/01/18/texas-tax-rebates-in-doubt-for-great-wolf-el-paso-resort-project/2594937002/

Is the Times taking the gloves off with the city?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Your turn again

Sat, 01/26/2019 - 5:00am

Its open line Saturday.

What would you like to share?

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Thoughts about the blog

Fri, 01/25/2019 - 6:21am

A loyal and helpful reader sent this in:

     [P]  Last Texas Legislative Session — there was a bill to reduce the property tax increase rollback trigger from the current level of 8-percent — down to the range of 4-percent.  Of course all the local governments used our local legislative delegation and lobbyists to oppose the legislation.  I always felt the local blogs like your’s — were good vehicles to let readers’ and posters know — they could provide ‘citizen’s input’ directly to governmental leaders outside El Paso.  That direct ‘citizen’s input’ lets those legislative leaders outside El Paso know — that unlike what our local legislative delegation says — people want controls over tax increases — and resent some of these costly transportation projects like the street cars, BRIO bus routes, and little used bike lanes — while they must put up daily with shitty, uneven, potholed streets with badly faded roadway stripping.      [P]  The blogs like your’s — have taken the place of the old local call in talk radio shows which are no longer on the air.  The Times is a shell of its former self — plus the INC is a once a week newspaper — which like the Times pushes and agrees with what the city and county, to include UMC and Children’s Hospital — always does.  Even though the TV stations from time to time do good reports — their reporting is uneven as they jump from story to story — and daily give emphasis to auto wrecks and local people-on-people violence    Other than the blogs — today there is no vehicle for ‘citizen’s concern and input.’        [P]  Finally, the blogs can be used — to let concerned citizens know about voter driven initiatives — like that Westside Lost Dog Trail petition — etc.  By simply providing a link to a website those petition supporters may have — you provide a powerful vehicle for information dissemination.  And if those petition supporters — would post a copy of their petition — that readers can download and send in — they vastly can increase their petition success rate.      [P]  Hope these thoughts help.  In addition, City Councilman Rivera and Councilwoman Hernandez — send out informative e-mail newsletter each week.  Ask them to put you are their e-mailing list as It can give you a ‘heads up’ alert on some of the city’s issues.
Categories: Local Blogs

Kiwanis wine tasting benefit gala

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 7:32am

The Kiwanis Club of El Paso Charitable Foundation is a big supporter of BASE Play RBI which we wrote about the other day.

I am told that this event will feature mostly Texas grown wines.

For more information or to buy tickets contact Marko Kato at mkato54321@gmail.com.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD sells bonds and doesn’t need voter approval

Wed, 01/23/2019 - 6:26am

A loyal reader sent this to our attention:

EPISD previously created a public facility corporation under Texas law.

They did this to pay for the new central office facilities.

The way it works is that the public facility corporation can authorize and sell bonds without voter approval.  They simply place notices in the local newspaper (how many people subscribe to the newspaper, and of those who do how many ever even look at the classifieds?).  If a voter petition that objects to the issuance does not get filed within 60 days they can issue the bonds.  The petition must bear the signature of 5 percent of the registered voters in the district.

After all you didn’t complain did you?

From there the public facility corporation builds the building and leases it to the school district.

Nifty huh?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

BASE Play RBI

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 8:52am

BASE Play RBI is a program offered by the Border Youth Athletic Association.

This program combines athletic development with academic improvement for kids in our economically distressed communities.

I invite you to look them up at http://www.BorderYouth.org.

This is better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Party time

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 5:00am

Our city officials want to attend South by Southwest again this year.

They tell us that when they went last year they saw between 700 and 900 people at their booth.  That’s out of 75,000 people that attended.

This week’s city council agenda includes an item to authorize an inter-local government agreement between the city and the county where the county agrees to reimburse 50% of the actual expenses us to $50,000.  Anything over that the city will have to pay alone.

Why?

The stated purpose is “to promote the cultural, film, tourism, convention and hotel industry, and economic opportunities available in the El Paso Region”.

The agreement specifies that airfare, transportation, lodging, and meals are separate and are not included in the agreement.

It sounds like a party to me.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

City manager’s legal expenses

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 6:02am

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


by Dr. Radut