Yesterday the city held a public meeting where they would once again try and explain to City Council (for the 8th time) just how DWNTWN and hotels within 1,000 feet of the convention center would be positively impacted by the location of the sure-to-lose-money arena as close as possible to the convention center.
It is more than obvious that most of the City is all in to dropping this arena in the Duranguito barrio, giving the boot to 150 or so residents and cementing our oldest history in favor of the investors, property-owners and hoteliers that are salivating as they wait for the $180,000,000 tax-payer funded arena to materialize and blow up their fat bank accounts.
Here is a quick breakdown of yesterday’s meeting:
The bulk of the meeting was a mind-numbing, sleep-inducing series of formalities and business items.
This was followed by an indecipherable presentation by an individual explaining the city budget and the fiscal state of El Paso.
Then came what we were all there for, to hear the so-called benefits and just how they were going to make DWNTWN a money-making bonanza for all, especially any businesses within the 1,000 foot radius of the CC.
Again, a translator who speaks average everyday english would have been indispensable. There was so much lawyerese mumbo-jumbo jargon so as to make his explanation almost impossible to understand.
About maybe seven citizens received 3 minutes each to ask questions or make points regarding tax incentives and the impact on DWNTWN, the arena placement, etc.
Well, the discussion was getting a little too real for Mayor Pro-tem Dr. Noe because now we were bringing up questions about whether the arena had to be built in DWNTWN, because that specific wording was not included on the actuall ballot when it was voted on in 2012.
City Atty Borunda-Firth has always been adamant about that it has to be built in DWNTWN. From a legal standpoint, it seems very misleading to leave out specific wording about the location of a future arena. It may have been intentional, it may have been an oversight...either way it is grounds for a lawsuit against the city and Dr. David Romo brought this up.
At this point Dr. Noe started feeling the pressure mounting and quickly tried to adjourn the meeting even though there were still more individuals walking up to the podium for a turn. I and another individual who had already had a 3-minute turn went back up for round 2 and this is where it got interesting.
Dr. Noe advised us that we had our turn and if we wanted to talk more we could do so privately with any council member. That sounds a little like an effort to once again keep things out of the public sphere and to silence our voices.
I refused to sit down, and explained that the conversation was just getting somewhere and people wanted more opportunity to contribute.
Dr. Noe insisted that I sit down, I didn’t and at this point a couple of officers approached me and calmly asked me to sit down. While I was discussing things with the officers, Hilda Finn, a fellow Duranguito supporter took a turn at the mic and when she was done I made a beeline for the podium.
The officers again approached me and asked me to sit, at which point I looked directly at Dr. Noe and challenged him repeatedly to arrest me if I had broken any law. He actually called for my arrest (according to witnesses) but my ears were buzzing with adrenaline so all I could do was voice some parting shots about how the arena has everything to do with choosing between the disenfranchised and vulnerable residents of Duranguito and the corporate interests and wealthy investors wanting to see the arena built for their benefit.
While Dr. Noe went off the rails, the officers kept their composure, both of them and I knowing that they had no just cause to arrest me for simply wanting another couple of minutes to contribute to the conversation. In fact, I approached both of them at today’s council meeting and shook their hands thanking them for their service, keeping a cool head and mentioning that there were no hard feelings.
The media erroneously reported that I was escorted out by the officers, but one can plainly see that I left the podium, picked up my jacket and calmly walked out of the meeting...leaving a chaotic scene behind me.
Stay informed. Things are happening in our city that need our attention and understanding.
Knowledge is power.
The following city reps are AGAINST kicking out Duranguito residents and burying our oldest history and support the placement of the arena elsewhere:
Lily Límon, Peter Schwarzbein, Jim Tolbert, and Cortney Niland
The following city reps are siding with the wealthy investors and property owners in an effort to displace El Paso’s most vulnerable and short-sightedly erase our oldest historical barrio:
Claudia Ordaz, Dr. Michiel Noe, Carl Robinson, Emma Acosta
Mayor Leeser appears to be straddling the fence and won’t reveal where he stands.
Committed to holding people in power accountable
Read the James No Bond FaceBook comments here: