On December 20, just five days before Christmas in El Paso, City Hall had an energized meeting with 40+ Duranguito advocates of all backgrounds stepping up to the mic to plead the case for preventing City Council from finalizing an arena plan that would displace 150 residents from El Paso’s oldest historical living neighborhood.
The long and short of this continuing novela is that after a drawn out private executive session behind closed doors, four city council members (Tolbert, Límon, Schwarzbein and Niland) were feeling the Spirit of Navidad and voted as a majority to withdraw Duranguito from consideration as a potential arena site.
Emma Acosta and Claudia Ordaz voted against withdrawing it as a potential site, preferring to leave the residents living situation hanging in the balance.
Robinson did not cast his vote and wouldn't give an explanation.
And Dr. Noe....................... Dr. Noe?
He disappeared, tucked tail and ran, vanished into the ether like a frightened ghost.
A rebel without a vote.
Fast forward to today’s City Hall meeting.
Dr. Michiel Noe rambled on with a lengthy screed about wanting to know more details about the selection of the convention center as the new site for consideration.
He talked about his 100,000 tax-paying constituents he is accountable to and their spoken concerns over this new venue.
A lot of big talk about his commitment to his people, how they are first and foremost his responsibility.
Not long after that speech, he made a motion to study everything within a 1,000 foot radius from the CC as a potential site to drop the grossly out-sized arena into.
This was a not-so-subtle way to plunge Duranguito right back into the potential arena sites, endangering once again the residents and the irreplaceable historical value of the barrio.
The motion was seconded and a vote was taken and guess what?
Claudia Ordaz, Emma Acosta, Carl Robinson and Dr. Michiel Noe voted to put it back on the potential chopping block.
This pissed me off to no end.
I made my way to the podium and asked him point blank just where he was three weeks ago when his vote mattered to El Paso and the very people he proudly claims to represent in his district.
His (paraphrased) answer: “I had not been included in the private meeting with Leeser, Niland, Tolbert, Limon and Schwarzbein and so I chose not to cast a vote and just leave.”
Well boohoo, since when does an elected city leader just up and run when they get their feathers ruffled?
Our elected leaders have a mandate to serve we the people who placed them in their seats. And to serve us with integrity and decorum.
If a community leader “misbehaves”, you don't call him an “ass” on camera and in a public city meeting like Jim Tolbert did. * He apologized to his credit.
If you get butt hurt that you were excluded from a secret meeting, you don't abandon your constituency and your principles and take a hike.
Christmas is over, the New Year has arrived and things are back to abnormal at City Hall.
Don’t forget Barrio Duranguito.