EL PASO – It’s a culture war! It’s a culture war at several levels, the most serious one has been brought about by GPL (Gullible Political Leaders) caving to the developers who are imposing their vision of El Paso’s future upon this city without the consent of the governed. That is the main idea behind Henry David Thoreau’s refusal to pay his taxes, I quote my previous paraphrasing: Never have so few in the name of so many done so much harm. This baseball stadium boondoggle is ipso facto confirmation of my assertion of a culture war against El Paso.
The majority of El Paso’s residents are Mexican/Mexican Americans. The majority of these residents work at low-income jobs. I feel it safe to say that soccer is the most popular sport among us. American professional football is second; baseball a distant third. To impose such an expensive baseball only stadium upon us is a cultural statement. Because this project was railroaded through our GPL (City Council) even our so-called Mexican Americans on this city council didn’t question why a baseball stadium when the megalopolis combination of El Paso – Ciudad Juárez, maybe close to two million inhabitants, would probably respond positively to a soccer stadium in close physical proximity to our international border. Why didn’t they ask if the physical design of the proposed baseball stadium could be modified to include a multi-sport venue and thereby include soccer games (football games, boxing, and others). As I understand it, it was an ultimatum that the project had to be accepted without any changes. An ultimatum, that ultimatum in itself was a declaration of war! This document also included a non-competition clause; this was discussed at length on 600AM (Sports Radio) that I listened to, and listen to almost daily. They went on gleefully about how happy all the jocks were this project was never presented to the voters and that it was a done deal.
As I listened to the calls into the programs most of the callers were in favor of the project; an occasional brave soul was opposed to the increase in taxes and felt the public should not be paying for this stadium. I asked myself why the GPL didn’t demand a market study to get a sense of the numbers: price of tickets, frequency of games, how many would really sign up to pay to see every game, how many would pay to see every other game, how many would go only once or twice in the entire baseball season, how many Juarenses would come over and pay to see these games.
There was not enough interest to keep the Diablos baseball organization profitable. Is the non-competition clause designed to make sure that the Tigua Nation, the new owners of Cohen Stadium, cannot expect to make their new acquisition profitable? It seems they won’t be able to bring their own baseball team to play there. They were sold a bill of goods; I suspect the previous owners knew they had to unload it on someone.
You still think this is not a culture war?
There are diehard baseball fans in El Paso. There are even some who could afford to pay high ticket prices to go to baseball games in the proposed boondoggle stadium. I don’t believe, by the most favorable statistics available, there is a sufficiently big number of baseball fanatics in El Paso to keep the enterprise going over many years after the novelty has worn out, if it becomes reality. However, after the developers are paid off, with our taxes, I’m sure El Paso will assume all liability and will be stuck with the tax bill.
The present GPL of El Paso cannot be trusted to make good decisions with more taxes in the future than the poor decisions they have made up to now. Although I supported a city manager system; our city manager didn’t speak up against this project. She knows, should know, what our population base can support with taxes. I heard today (Oct. 17) our GPL has authorized $1.5 million in back pay to our police department. The explanation I heard was it was because of miscommunications. Our GPL cannot even pay our police officers correctly; can we trust them with any more of our money?
El Paso Times on Oct. 15 headlines the $192 thousand dollars that have been raised by the backers of the bond coming up to the voters in November to finance the stadium boondoggle. They are among the same people who gave our GPL the Kool Aid to approve the stadium project without coming to us, the voters. It’s a good investment for them $192,000 for a return of $473 million for the so-called “Quality of Life” bonds on the ballot.
Back to the jobs for El Paso; there will be some construction jobs created if this project is not rejected in November. But after the construction the jobs are gone. But our taxes will still be here and higher. One of the biggest deterrents for more businesses bringing jobs to El Paso is our high tax rate. Increase taxes to build a baseball stadium (pay the Times $12.25 million for their building so our GPL can have new offices) and our coffers will overflow from baseball ticket sales!
When Ciudad Juárez was a big tourist attraction people came to El Paso to go have a good time in Juárez. Mexico, mariachis, Spanish, food, song and dance, was the attraction! Now, of course, with the proposed higher taxes on our hotel motel industry to pay for the stadium, people will flock to El Paso? We have nothing exciting culturally to offer tourists who want to visit Mexico. Juárez is already rebounding and will offer again a great place to enjoy Mexican culture.
I think there has been talk with little follow up about El Paso being an officially bi-lingual city Spanish and English. Has there ever been talk about a future long range plan for El Paso put together by a bi-national team of El Paso and Mexican urban planners who could design a revitalization project that would emphasize our Mexican heritage and culture?
It is a culture war of El Paso against itself. Our GPL (Gullible Political Leaders) have little credibility. If they are not GPL are they then complicit, hidden back room deals in the works, in the present deplorable state of our city leadership at many levels? Just naïve? Why are GPL so intent in suppressing information about how this whole deal was accomplished? Did they cross a legal parameter they now want to cover up? With these cover up efforts they have joined the ranks of real politicians, including prominent local ones that claim nothing was illegal but still refuse to release the corresponding documents. If it was all on the up and up, why the refusal? Have we heard that before? This is a culture war. We are now as big and American as Chicago and New York and emulating their culture of political hanky-panky. I will vote against all future bond issues while this GPL is in office.