Ex-city council member and past candidate for El Paso mayor, Steve Ortega just wrote up a highly-spun propaganda column in the El Paso Times trying to rush the insultingly underfunded Latino Cultural Center project. Why do Ortega, mayor Dee “hold the line on taxes” Margo, Joe Gudenrath, Richard Dayoub and several other Borderplex Alliance businessmen always try to rush projects that lack proper community input?
Projects like the now estimated $250,000,000 El Paso sports arena fustercluck, the $60 million children’s museum which was originally budgeted for 19.5 million and now the LCC that city leaders want to shoehorn into the flagship El Paso Main Public Library.
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You may remember Steve Ortega as being one of the original city leaders that were at one time willing to apply Eminent Domain to large swaths of El Paso’s Segundo Barrio in an effort to Starbucks-ize and culturally cleanse the neighborhood to make it more appealing to tourists and shoppers according to them anyway.
They tried to erase the “Mexicanness” of downtown in favor of upscale people like Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz because he bought into a racist study that was conducted at the City’s behest to re-engineer the face of El Paso’s downtown.
He’s on board in the effort to obliterate our oldest history, culture, heritage and architecture in Barrio Duranguito by dropping in an El Paso Sports Arena Fustercluck bomb. A place that if built, will sit idle for over 300 days a year and will now cost the taxpayer over $250,000,000 to build not including yearly maintenance, employee salaries, insurance, peripheral costs for parking, traffic and other issues.
Steve Ortega has always advocated that El Paso become another bland and predictable city that suppresses it's roots and heritage in favor of upscale and “progressive” ideas that resemble those of several other American cities that are nothing like us. Think Oklahoma City, Tucson, Greenville, NC.
And after reading this highly spun column, it's more than obvious he is part of a mentality that is unwilling to properly fund what could be one of the biggest and most valuable assets to El Paso and it's citizens, in particular the 83% Latino population who deserve better than an insulting $5 million dollars to build the Latino Cultural Center.
This figure and now the City's hamfisted and predictable attempt to somehow merge the LCC with the Main public library is a clear example of negligence where two wrongs make an even bigger wrong that has no winners.
Ortega believes that starving a Latino Cultural Center of adequate funds will be sufficient for our community. He believes that removing 45% of desperately needed literacy space in our library will better serve El Paso.
Do your homework Ortega, El Paso is consistently in the BOTTOM 5 cities in America for literacy and shrinking the library will only plunge us deeper into the issues that keep us down.
And by the way, where is El Paso’s former library director Dionne Mack who should be fighting this bonehead and destructive move tooth and nail? Maybe as El Paso’s current deputy city manager she might have something to do with this insidious plan to water down two standalone venues by morphing them together in an ugly display of negligence.
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Like a broken record Ortega and the mayor keep telling us that downtown is experiencing a rennaissance. I guess they don't go there after 7 p.m. when the only people around are bar-hoppers along with a few people here and there wandering around looking for signs of life on an average night.
He tells us that our unemployment numbers are better than the rest of Texas but fails to mention that the average Texan earns 50% more than the average El Pasoan ($30,000 vs $20,150 yearly). He whitewashes things by failing to mention that most El Paso jobs are of the minimal education variety and and pay less than a living wage.
These people who represent the wealthy investors and special interests would have us believe that sports are THE ANSWER. That sports will bring people far and wide as tourists. That an overabundance of downtown hotels equal revitalization and will attract bigger and better conventions to a CVB that year in and year out fails to bring in anything of importance.
They will bend the facts and spin the reality in an ongoing effort to siphon more of our tax dollars to build downtown in their image. And their image is not an image that reflects El Paso's cultural heritage.
They demand us to be satisfied with the anemic $5 million for the cultural center while ballooning the $20 million for the children's museum to $60 million without our permission.
They give us things they tell us we deserve without our input and permission, all while plunging us deeper into American’s second highest property tax rates.
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If we are serious about serving and representing our community, with the very real possibility of attracting visitors far and wide (not just Las Cruces, Juarez, Socorro, Hobbs, etc.) then it's time to seriously fund the LCC by killing the arena, which will free up the dollars needed.
That will also give us critically needed money to pave streets which the city only allocates $7 million per year (EP CFO Cortinas has stated that we need $39 million per year to adequately pave our streets).
Cut back the children's museum back down to the original $19.5 million.
Time to get El Paso off the spin cycle and slow things down a bit Mr. Ortega. We are in no rush.
Read Steve Ortega’s El Paso Times column “El Paso must act now on Mexican American Cultural Center”.