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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: 15 min 49 sec ago

EPISD telling stories

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 5:17am

It seems that someone over at EPISD is having problems with arithmetic again.

The Times published this article back in June, 2018.  In it they listed elementary schools that the district was considering for closure.

Rivera elementary was shown to have 360 students putting it at 51 percent of capacity.

Then again

Back in March of 2015 the district published the Jacobs study (994 pages) of EPISD facilities.

In the study Jacobs tells us that Rivera has a permanent capacity (no portable classrooms) of 388 students.

That means that the school was at 93 percent of its capacity when the Times ran the article.

According to a October 10, 2018 report to the board the school has 331 students today (85%).

Even more concerning is that Polk elementary (eight tenths of a mile away from Rivera) has 700 students today in a school with a permanent capacity of 615.

They could transfer students from Polk to Rivera and Rivera would be at 100% of its capacity.

Then again it looks like the district just wants to close Rivera and is willing to publish inaccurate statistics to justify their plans.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

No parking

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 5:17am

As part of the introduction of our street cars the city is proposing an amendment to the existing vehicle and traffic ordinance that would make parking at any place along the street car routes illegal unless the area has been specifically marked to allow parking.

From the proposed ordinance amendment:

“Except as provided in 12.90.50 below … no person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on any side of a street within the Streetcar Route.”

The penalty?

“a fine not to exceed 500 dollars”

Be warned.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Not knowing about the candidates

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 5:00am

Early voting starts a week from today, Monday, October 22, 2018.

Won’t you please do your homework now and decide who to vote for?

That way you can go to the polling place and have your vote represent how you feel.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Chasing a wild goose

Sun, 10/14/2018 - 5:00am

There is talk in some circles about impeaching our new supreme court justice.

Our constitution allows him to hold office “during good behavior”.

In our nation’s history we have never had a case where a supreme court justice was brought up on impeachment charges for behavior allegedly committed before taking office.

The question of whether a justice can be impeached and convicted for actions committed before taking office is thus an open one.

In a practical sense however the chances of removing a justice for past acts has little chance of success.

Firstly a majority of the members of the house of representatives would have to vote to impeach.

Then a trial would occur in the senate and would require 60 out of 100 votes in order to convict.

Then, because the process could be challenged, our supreme court might vote to hear the case.

Would the sitting justices allow themselves or future justices to be exposed to politically motivated removal?  I doubt it.

Judicial independence from political movements is a cornerstone of our system.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Just pass it–we can change it later

Sat, 10/13/2018 - 5:00am

Looking further into the issue of what they are now calling the “Mexican American Cultural Center” we had to go back to the August 14, 2012 city council meeting documents and video.

Attached to agenda item 13A (which proposed the ordinance ordering the bond election) we see this in the backup material:

The language that council voted to place on the ballot turned out to be:

They were talking about a “Hispanic Cultural Center” but told the voters that they would build a “Cultural Heritage Center”.

Now six years later we see:

Yes, it is now a “Mexican American Cultural Center”.

According to the U. S. Census Bureau web page  “OMB defines “Hispanic or Latino” as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.”

Back in 2012 city council was not honest with the voters.  City council is not being honest today either.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

How big should our schools be?

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 5:00am

The question of closing some of  our underutilized schools has been discussed recently among the commentators.

That raises the question, how many students should the schools be built to accommodate?

We evidently currently have schools that are operating with far fewer students than the schools were designed to handle and as a result are being considered for closure.

Let’s limit the question to our elementary schools for purposes of discussion of this post.

Should the schools be designed to limit the need for buses to carry the children who live more than two miles away from the school to it?

Or should the elementary schools be large and thus potentially enjoy the economic advantages of scale?

Texas does not require our school districts to provide transportation to and from school.  They will however provide financial assistance to school districts that provide transportation as long as the students live two or more miles from the school.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

The election is in November, your property taxes are due in January

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 5:00am

Our city council has decided to allow themselves to increase our property taxes to just under the level where they would have to take the issue to the voters for approval.

What are they afraid of?

We all know.

We already have the second highest property tax rates (for homesteaded homes) among the largest 50 cities in the United States.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Its over

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 5:00am

We recently endured a contentious process that culminated in the confirmation of a new supreme court justice.

Will we see as a result a more energized electorate in the November election?

Will the tactics used by each side backfire and cause their opponents to galvanize?

I can point to one thing for certain–every vote counts.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Open forum

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 5:00am

We recently published a piece sent to us by Max Grossman.

At the end of it he called out three city representatives for their involvement in the cost overruns.

If any or all of those city representatives would like to tell us their thoughts about the issue we welcome their contribution in the form of a post.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Hoping for the best

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 9:38am

The other day in When will the kids play we pointed out that our new professional soccer franchise cut a deal with the city to use two existing city owned soccer fields for their practices.

The terms of the deal required the franchise to pay to improve the fields and to maintain them.  In return the team was granted control over the usage of the fields.

A few days later the Times published an article that clarified our city government’s expectations.

Our new city engineer explained that the fields will still be available to the kids when the team is not practicing or performing maintenance or letting the fields rest.  He indicated that the fields will probably be available for public use on Saturdays and for some tournaments.

The article did not include any commentary from the team.

The team will spend half a million dollars improving the fields and having the professional players practice at the sports complex will give local youth an opportunity to observe a much higher level of play than they would normally be exposed to.

This could turn out to be a good deal for the community.

Unfortunately city council did not see the need to see to it that the contract assures that we get what the city engineer expects.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

New numbers?

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 5:00am

This came in from Max Grossman:

Dear Friends,

I have attached the latest statistics from the City of El Paso detailing the huge cost overruns on twelve QOL bond projects:

FACILITY                                              ORIGINAL                        SUPPLEMENT                 OVER

                                                             BUDGET ($)                        FROM COs               BUDGET (%)

Irving Schwartz Library                    2,150,000                               199,000                                9.26

Johnson Basin Park                              412,664                                 58,000                              14.06

Radford Park                                         992,158                                 27,000                                2.72

San Jacinto Plaza                               3,000,000                           3,310,000                           110.33

Argal Park at Las Palmas                  5,000,000                              521,000                              10.42

Eastside Sports Complex                48,000,000                        11,600,000                              24.17

Westside Pool                                    8,000,000                           2,356,000                              29.45

Chelsea Aquatic Center                    4,000,000                           3,100,000                              77.50

Forti Aquatic Center                         4,000,000                           3,400,000                              85.00

Childrens Museum                          19,250,000                        20,800,000                            108.05

Hispanic Cultural Center                  5,750,000                         10,750,000                            186.96

MPC (“Arena”)                              180,000,000                         70,000,000                               38.89

TOTAL                                  $280,554,822                $126,121,000                    44.95%

We all recall that the original bond proposition, which appeared on the ballot in 2012, called for an expenditure of $475,250,000. That figure has so far been inflated to $601,371,000! The cost overrun on the three “signature” projects alone is $101,550,000 (49.54%)! It is hard to imagine more irresponsible management of public projects, and yet KVIA is the only media network to investigate thoroughly.

Every single El Pasoan should be outraged at our City Manager, Mayor and City Council for bringing us to this point, and yet they continue to insist that we need to spend more money than authorized because “we deserve better!” And where will the extra funds come from? Certificates of obligation (new debt) issued without voter approval. And how will the additional debt be paid for? Higher taxes!

There are three incumbents up for re-election in November: Peter Svarzbein (District 1), Claudia Ordaz-Perez (District 6) and Cissy Lizarraga (District 8). All three own the above figures and all three are being challenged by El Pasoans with significantly more fiscal acumen and management experience.

Have a great day.

Categories: Local Blogs

Climb aboard

Sat, 10/06/2018 - 6:31am

For those of you that have waiting to ride the street cars, here’s your chance:

Starting October 8, 2018 they say that you can catch a ride.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Consolidating the school districts

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 5:15am

City council met in special session Monday, October 1, 2018.

The agenda indicates that they plan to discuss and take action on council’s legislative agenda with the state.

One of the items to be considered is:

That ought to ruffle some feathers at the school districts.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

District 1 candidate forum

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 5:20am

This came in from Xavier Miranda:

Dear Xavier,

Just a friendly reminder of our upcoming

El Paso Grassroots City Council Candidate Forum for District 1 on Saturday, October 13. Although folks may not reside in this district, commonly shared issues indeed impact our entire community; i.e., displacement, healthcare and disability services, taxation without representation in terms of issuing Certificates of Obligation, eliminating the City Manager model, environmental disregard and nuclear waste disposal developments, misappropriation of Quality of Life bond money, and TIRZs development.   Based on input from the District 8 candidate forum, current entities that drive El Paso’s economic and municipal development are the very ones that community organizations identify as significant obstacles.   Local billionaires Woody Hunt and Paul Foster, as well as The BorderPlex Alliance/Paso Del Norte Group, MountainStar Sports Group, the Hunt Institute of Energy and Economic Development, CREEED, and the El Paso Electric Company wield significant influence on current city council representatives and Mayor Dee Margo, evident in current city policies reflecting and benefiting their interests. Unfortunately, current city council representatives Cissy Lizarraga and Peter Svarzvbein have opted to disregard personal invitations to attend our community forums. Their recent support of the salary increase for the City Manager, the mayor,  and themselves is of concern. Additionally, Lizarraga and Svarzbein support Mayor Margo in the razing of Durangito, the establishment of various TIRZs, issuing Certificates of Obligations, and the placement of the Mexican American Cultural Center at the Main Library. Authentic representation of constituents by these two incumbents is sorely lacking. Please consider attending the next forum: Event:      District 1 EP City Council Candidate Forum Date:       Saturday, October 13, 2018 Time:      1 PM to 3 PM Place:      Armijo Library, Mural Room     620 E. 7th ST 79901 3 of the 4 Candidates that have already confirmed attendance:

** Peter Svarzbein has been advised by campaign managers not to participate in community forums in order to avoid “hardball” questions.

The following panelists have been allotted 20 minute segments during the forum to use as they deem appropriate:
  • Renewable Energy Advocate Shelby Ruff
Thank you for consideration given this message. Link to the FB event for the forum: https://www.facebook.com/events/2081343168556092/ Best Regards, Xavier Miranda El Paso Grassroots
Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD wants another leadership program

Wed, 10/03/2018 - 5:00am

This came in from a loyal contributor:

The El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) is requesting proposals from qualified service providers to implement, train small learning school communities and/or district leadership through a yearlong leadership design institute.

And yet another initiative

******************************************

How much this will cost?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

When will the kids play?

Tue, 10/02/2018 - 5:00am

As part of the deal with MountainStar where they will be hosting USL soccer at the ball park, it appears that the new team needs a practice facility.

Item 31.1 on the Tuesday, October 2, 2018 city council agenda contemplates giving the team the right to use two soccer fields at the Westside Sports Complex for five years.  In return the team (aka COMPANY) will bring the fields up to USL standards and then maintain them.

“COMPANY’s occupancy and use of the Facilities shall take precedence over any other use of the Facilities during the Team’s pre-season training camp, regular season, and post-season … as shall be deemed included in Exhibit B …”

In other words during the period described in Exhibit B the team will have control over the fields.

Exhibit B is shown below:

For the 2018 USL season pre-season ran from the February 3 to March 16.  Regular season was from March 16 to October 14.  The post-season will start October 20 and end November 10.

Kids, we will let you know when you can use the field.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

USL soccer coming to the ball park

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 5:00am

Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 2, 2018) city council will consider changing the ball park lease.

The sports group already has control over the ball park every day of the year because of their current lease.

The group wants to bring a USL soccer team to El Paso and play at the ball park.  They plan to spend $3.5 million to make the facility appropriate for both baseball and soccer.

This makes sense if for no other reason than they already control what can happen at the park.

From the proposed changes to the lease:

“… all revenues generated
from the Soccer Team and/or the Ballpark on the date of a Soccer Team home game or
USL events including, without limitation, all revenues from Soccer Team or USL ticket
sales (except Ticket Fees), parking (except for City’s share of parking revenue, discussed
in Article V of this Agreement), Soccer Team or USL Concessions, Soccer Team or USL
Merchandise, Soccer Team or USL suite, and club seat sales, interior and exterior Soccer
Team or USL-related Ballpark advertising and signage, sponsorships, any and all Soccer
Team or USL naming rights and other advertising, sales of broadcast and telecast rights,
internet rights, league expansion fees and team fundraising, and any other sources of
Soccer Team or USL related revenue, shall be retained by MountainStar Soccer or the
USL, as appropriate.”

The city does not get much.

However the city does get to provide free police services:

City, in its reasonable discretion, shall provide at
its sole cost and expense (using City employees or contract services, as determined by
City) all customary police, traffic control, fire prevention, emergency medical, street
cleaning, trash removal and other similar City-provided services, outside and in the
general vicinity of the Ballpark, at a level of service consistent with the Ballpark
Standard;

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Behind closed doors

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 5:00am

El Chuqueno pointed out the other day that city council wired their recent cultural center vote while in executive session.

What the post did not point out is that city council members should know better.

Section 551.005 of the Texas open meetings act requires each council member to take training relating open meetings and executive sessions within 90 days of taking office.

In other words these people should know what the rules are and should not break them.

Where was our city attorney on this?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Cultural center

Sat, 09/29/2018 - 5:00am

The Wizard asked the other day about the ballot language relative to the cultural center.

City ordinance 017849 authorized the election.

It said:

It offered a cultural center, without any reference to ethnicity, nationality, religion, race or any other qualifier.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Will Stanton street be too steep?

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 5:01am

According to this post in the el chuqueno blog our new street cars might not be able to handle the grade going up Stanton if they have to stop and then start again.

From the post:

“the trolley will wait at the stop by Cathedral High School to make sure it has a clear shot all the way up the hill on Stanton. If the trolley stops, it might not be able to conquer the grade, and it might have to stop, because the tracks are on the left turn lane all the way up.”

I guess that they can “make sure” that they have a clear shot if they only operate late at night.  Stanton is a busy street and assuring a “clear shot” will be hard to do.

We have repeatedly been told that the slope will not be a problem for the cars.

This KVIA  report shows the construction manager telling us that 10% grade at one section of Stanton will not be a problem.

Let’s hope that she is right.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut