Monday, May 28, 2012

El Paso City Council to Vote On What to do with Franchise Fees from Fireman Steve Show





El Paso City Council to Vote On Use of Franchise Fees from Fireman Steve Show
Show Features Fireman Steve with Asst. Firewoman Joyce Inspect Buildings for Fire Code Violations. They Do It Together in Dark and Lonely Places

On Tuesday, the El Paso City Council will debate and vote upon how to spend franchise fees garnered from its popular Fireman Steve Show.

In popular children's show enjoyed by local billionaires, Paso Del Norte Group members, and other un-matured minds, Fireman Steve inspects Downtown building marking which ones are in violation of fire codes.

Fireman Steve's Fire Code Violations Map


In the next episode which airs Thursday, Activist Miguel discovers that Fireman Steve's Map of Fire Code Violations looks exactly like the Paso del Norte Group's Downtown Eminent Domain Map.
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Looking the Other Way: The O'Rourke-Sanders Displacement and Clarence Thomas: Displacement as a Local and International Issue



Displacement as a Local and International Issue
Looking the Other Way: The O'Rourke-Sanders Displacement and Clarence Thomas


Introduction

The recent congressional election in El Paso has had its amusements. One came at the behest of White liberals in El Paso not wanting to focus on the issues of displacement in El Paso. If it was displacement of people happening in the 3rd World, many of these White liberals would be at the forefront.

Also are the accusations as to why are we mixing race with gentrification. As some White liberals in El Paso, "they have nothing to do with each other."

However, when displacement occurs at our front door and local White liberals are confronted with the racism of much of El Paso's urban renewal plans, how gentrification hurts the poor, and how there is still a White elite that seeks to keep Whites in power, all the talk by these White liberals of displacement disappears.

Above, photo of proposed port of entry at Yarbrough Drive and Cesar Chavez Border Highway. O'Rourke served on the Metropolitan Planning Organization which O'Rourke was member while on the El Paso City Council (Evaluation of Ports of Entry for the EPMPO, MPO Presentation Slide 8, posted on MPO website)(See Note 2)


Displacement in El Paso

In the latter part of the last decade, the pushing the Downtown Plan, the events in Lomas de Poleo, and now in this decade Beto's Bridge (the Yarbrough Port-of-Entry)(see Collins), displacement is occurring in El Paso and Chihuahua. In fact, Sanders, O'Rourke, and the rest of the city council of that era are one of the most reviled in the social science literature when it comes to the study of eminent domain abuse. El Paso is frequently the prime example of this abuse in the academic literature.

The recent congressional race between O'Rourke and Silvestre Reyes, the issue of displacement has come up. 

O'Rourke's father-in-law Bill Sanders, is the major instigators of displacement in the El Paso region, often using his son-in-law to push his agenda. Furthermore, with Reyes opposing a port of entry built through a neighborhood, Sander's and his crones need a replacement in the U.S. representative's office.



On a various occasions while on the El Paso City Council, O'Rourke recused himself from numerous votes because he had a conflict of interest with his father-in-law.

  • O'Rourke, who seconded the motion from East-Central Rep. Alejandro Lozano to approve the contract extension for the Paso del Norte Group's work on the Downtown Plan. O'Rourke, at the time was a member of the Paso del Norte Group and he said he did not feel it was a conflict for him to vote on the issue. 
  • "I'm not really an active member. I'm a dues-paying member but I haven't been able to attend a meeting since I got on the council," O'Rourke said. He did not disclose his membership, he said, "because the Paso del Norte Group isn't getting anything out of this. I feel that the group is helping us get something done we wouldn't have been able to get done ourselves." (Paso de Sur Barrio Under Siege Timeline).
  • When the plan was introduced on March 31, 2006, O’Rourke, who is the son-in-law of Sanders, made the motion to begin the process of adopting the plan.
  • In October 2006, "Bill Sanders changes his mind and states he will invest his own money into the Downtown Plan." (Paso de Sur Barrio Under Siege Timeline). "After having stated publicly when the plan was first unveiled that he would personally not own property in the redevelopment plan so that his son in law would not be accused of conflict of interest, he changes his mind at the behest of Mayor John Cook. Cook proposes that from now on O’Rourke should recuse himself and thus allow Sanders to invest in the plan because without his investment the plan is economically less viable." (Ibid.)
  • In June 2006, Myrna Deckert — Paso Del Norte Group (PDNG) director — publicly misinformed the community that Representative O’Rourke’s company was not getting paid for the services he was providing for the PDNG although he is. (Mr. O'Rourke told the ethics commission that he and Myrna Deckert forgot that the PDNG was paying his Stanton Street Technology Group for their services.) 
  • Mr. O’Rourke was still a member of the PDNG while he voted on issues related to the plan. He did not resign from the PDNG until October 2005. 
  • On September 13, 2005, O’Rourke was still a PDNG member when he voted to extend the PDNG contract. (O'Rourke's lawyer argued that this was perfectly okay for Mr. O'Rourke to do because it was actually the Paso Del Norte Foundation that requested the extension and not the Paso Del Norte Group. Sure, it's the same group of people, the lawyer admitted, but one has 501-c3 status and the other doesn't.)
  • On Dec. 18, 2006, City Council passed the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone by a vote of 5 to 2 . The TIRZ sets the stage for eminent domain to be used on any property—blighted or not—within the 188 acre zone.  "(O’Rourke recused himself from the vote and left the chamber. It’s not clear why he feels he does have a conflict of interest on the TIRZ zone, but not on the Paso Del Norte Plan as a whole.) (Ibid.)
  • January 29, 2007 - "ALTHOUGH CITY REPRESENTATIVE Robert O’Rourke has signed sworn affidavits in the past admitting to conflict of interest regarding all issues related to the Downtown-Segundo Barrio “redevelopment plan,” he failed to recuse himself during yesterday’s vote on an ordinance that would disallow “blight” condemnations on buildings that are in perfect condition. Instead he cast the deciding vote with the 4 to 3 majority of City Council that wants the local government to have broad powers to condemn and forcibly confiscate any building it wishes within the “redevelopment zone” even if the building is well-maintained. The homes and small businesses that are thus expropriated will be handed over to private developers including O’Rourke’s father-in-law William Sanders.  
  • As owner of the Verde Group, the Borderplex Community Trust (that is currently buying property within the redevelopment zone) and founder of the Paso del Norte Group, Sanders is the major driving force behind the plan to demolish a 30 acre-zone of the Segundo Barrio and displace more than 1,800 residents from this historic neighborhood.
  • Since December 2006, O’Rourke has consistently recused himself because of admitted conflict of interest from votes related to the redevelopment zone, a 302-acre area also known as the TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) that includes the heart of the Segundo Barrio. For instance in October 17, 2007, he signed a sworn affidavit stating that “I, and or a person or persons related to me have an interest in property in the proposed TIRZ district.” 
  • Oddly enough, instead of admitting the obvious conflict of interest involving his father in law who is currently buying up land in the TIRZ zone, O’Rourke states that “my wife’s employer is a landowner in the proposed district.” In other affidavits he states that his wife, Amy Sanders O'Rourke,  works for the La Fe Community Development Corporation, a for-profit entity that owns apartments and several businesses within the TIRZ zone. Ms. O'Rourke is currently the executive director of the La Fe Preparatory charter school. " (Ibid.)
  • "O’Rourke gave no explanation why, if has signed sworn statements in the past admitting to conflict of interest in the TIRZ zone, he believes it is ethical to cast the deciding vote on a matter related to this same zone." (Ibid.)
  • Jan. 29, 2007 - “Some Segundo Barrio residents were told the vote on the ordinance was postponed for a week and they left. It’s not going to hurt you to postpone it for a week. You should always err on the part of the citizens. You’ve obviously already made up your mind how you’re going to vote anyway. But at least let them speak before you cast your vote. Please postpone it for a week. It’s not going to hurt anything. Otherwise the people will go with a real bad taste in their mouth” (Ibid.)
  •  "The speaker, who is a regular at City Hall meetings, spoke in support of a group of Segundo Barrio residents who had shown up at City Hall on Tuesday morning to sign up to speak on the eminent domain ordinance but left after they were told that the vote and discussion on the issue had been postponed for a week.The City voted 4-3 to deny the request for postponement.
  • O’Rourke again cast the deciding vote.“The residents are free to come back next week and address the council if they wish during the open comments period,” O’Rourke told Mrs. Ochoa. He did not inform her that next week whatever the residents have to say will not affect City Council's vote on Segundo Barrio expropriations. That vote has already been cast" (Ibid.)


Yet, when it came to votes regarding the demolition of the Segundo Barrio for the benefit of his father-in-law, O'Rourke did not recuse himself. This occurred even after Mayor John Cook recommended he do so.

What is displacement?

Displacement can occurs for many reasons, but most of the time, here in El Paso, or in other parts of the world, displacement is the forcing of communities and individuals out of their homes, often also their homelands, for the purpose of economic development.

The Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London the Court held in a 5–4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified such redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment

In March 2008, "A delegation of human rights observers including members of Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild and La Raza Centro Legal carry out a one week visit of Lomas del Poleo and the Segundo Barrio and come to the following conclusion:
  • “Displacement of poor local communities is currently taking place due to potential industrial and corporate development on both sides of the border. In addition to Lomas Del Poleo, Segundo Barrio, one of the oldest neighborhoods in El Paso with many historic buildings of rich cultural significance, is also at risk of disappearing. the pedestrian bridges from Ciudad Juárez currently terminate in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio. Segundo Barrio has been called “a localized version of Ellis Island” for the Mexican community crossing into the United States.
  • Much like Lomas del Poleo, residents are being displaced by a closed and non-public process which benefits some of the same developers. According to one resident, Maria Guadalupe Ochoa, in lieu of violence, residents of the Segundo Barrio are faced with dilemmas such as developers “offering $20,000 for your house and you have to take it because your children have needs.” In Segundo Barrio, the displacement would impact roughly 1,800 current residents.
  • “Again, like the displacement happening in Lomas del Poleo, there is a strong economic motivation for the displacement. Developers, like the Paso Del Norte Group stand to gain huge profits from appropriating a portion of this neighborhood. The proposed use of eminent domain to recuperate property for private development is effectively a land grab, which benefits real estate developers. Rather than being used for the common good, in this instance the land being “reclaimed” would be turned over to a private Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) whose goals are determined by the trustees and not by the general public and thereby not accountable to the community or city government. To a certain degree, when faced with the possibility of losing their homes through eminent domain, the residents are facing economic coercion.

Demographics of Landgrabbing

The Takings Clause gave the federal government power to take land with just compensation. However, before the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London (2005), as early as the 1950s, the taking power was moving in a new direction. In the 1954 decision, Berman v. Parker, gave “urban renewal” a shot of steroids. 

Before Berman, “private property could only be taken through eminent domain for public uses.” 

However, the high court made changes in Berman that would bring a windfall to many White elites like O'Rourke and Sanders. Berman transformed the words “public use” as found in the U.S. Constitution to “public purpose.” This is saying that a government entity can “take” private land for not only for government use, but also for a third party's use.

So Berman was used throughout the 1950s and 1960s to remove so-called blight in many cities. But as often used in race studies, “blight removal” meant “negro removal” (Carpenter 3). 

But Berman's decision was not just limited to “blighted” properties. 

Even if your property was in good condition (not blighted) it can be taken by a government entity and transferred to a private entity (3). In Kelo v New London, the court held “that promoting economic development is a function of the government and provides a legitimate public purpose for private-to-private transfer of property” (Kelo). 

The court was closely divided though and its harsh self-criticism came from two conservative justices, Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas (Thomas).

The warning from these two conservative justices was that “expansion” of “public use” would have dire consequences for the “poor, minority and other historically disenfranchised an comparably powerless communities...”(See O'Connor and Thomas dissents).

In their study, “Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse,” Dick M. Carpenter II and John K. Ross documented "184 areas targeted by eminent domain for private development and found that it was more likely that these areas and population of poor, ethnic minorities as well as whose “with lower levels of educational attainment” (1):

  • 58% of the population of areas targeted for taking included minority residents, compared to only 45% in the surrounding communities:
  • the median income is less than $19,000 per year, compared to more than $23,000 in surrounding communities;
  • 25% live at or below poverty, compared to only 165 in surrounding communities;
  • a greater percentage of residents have less than a high school diploma and smaller percentages have various levels of college education compared to surrounding communities.
    (Carpenter and Ross 1 and 6)

As O'Connor and Thomas predicted, “eminent domain abuse is most likely to fall on the politically weak . Those often least-equipped to represent their own interests in the face of the use of eminent domain and their eventual displacement” (See O'Connor and Thomas dissents). 

This population bears “not only an economic burden but also a socio-cultural one through the loss of social networks and support systems inherent in neighborhoods, small businesses and churches” (Ibid.)

Justice O'Connor said:

  • "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporation and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more” (O'Connor in Carpenter).

O'Connor's words were a dire prediction. Bill Sanders presently has his money invested in  3 of the city council members. We have not looked into his influence in 2006-2008, but the record shows even without any substantial contribution to his son-in-law O'Rourke, Sander's influence was prominent (see Paso del Sur Barrio Under Siege Timeline). 

O'Connor's words will come true as city council has/had the power to “transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more” (see O'Connor's dissent).

Displacement as a Local Issues

For those White liberals who say there is no international issue in this election, I point to displacement.(see note 1)  And just when we thought Segundo Barrio was the end of it, Sanders has eyed the lower valley for a port of entry with the possibility of displacing thousands (see link to Verde Group properties in Cd. Juarez, listed under "Verde Bermudez" or "Bermudez": http://www.verderealty.com/property-search.php?prop=1; see Collins on O'Rourke support of a Yarbrough port of entry).



Conclusion

Displacement is an issue here in the border area, both in Mexico and El Paso, as it is in other parts of the world. The only problem is some white liberals care when it happens abroad -- but cannot see it in their own backyards much less care about it. And it's sad when they can't see it in their own backyard and Justice Clarence Thomas can see it in his.

References

Carpenter, Dick M. and Ross, John K. Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain. Institute of  Justice, June 2007. Downloadable at: http://www.ij.org/the-demographics-of-eminent-domain-abuse. A note, this study, like now countless studies in the social sciences uses El Paso's Downtown Plan as the best example of eminent domain abuse and abuse of public disclosure.

Collins, Daniel. City Council to debate bridge study. The Prospector. Posted Jan. 4, 2008. "While no official location has been selected for possible construction of a new bridge, the Yarbrough area has been most mentioned as a possible site." and "A location near Yarbrough, O'Rourke said, could be ideal for attracting manufacturing companies interested in doing business on both sides of the border and for it's proximity to the border highway." 

Evaluation of Ports of Entry for the EPMPO. El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization Slideshow Presentation, http://www.elpasompo.org/poe/. Viewed May 27, 2012. Click under Documents, last presentation listed.

Stevens, J. P. (2005). Susette Kelo, et al., petitioners v. City of New London, Connecticut, et al.; Opinion of the Court. Washington, DC: United States Supreme Court.

O’Connor, S. D. (2005). Susette Kelo, et al., petitioners v. City of New London, Connecticut, et al.; Justice O’Connor dissenting. Washington, DC: United States Supreme Court, pp. 1-2.

Thomas, C. (2005). Susette Kelo, et al., petitioners v. City of New London, Connecticut, et al.; Justice Thomas dissenting. Washington, DC: United
States Supreme Court, p. 17.

Welsome, Eileen. "Eminent Disaster:A cabal of politicians and profiteers targets an El Paso barrio," Texas Observer, Posted May 3, 2007: http://www.texasobserver.org/archives/item/15083-2483-eminent-disaster-a-cabal-of-politicians-and-profiteers-targets-an-el-paso-barrio. Viewed on May 27, 2012.

Note 1. One can say that there are many international issues that effect us locally. Especially the drug war and border enforcement. And many criticize Reyes for his U.S. Border Patrol roots as well as his support from the defense industry and Dept. of Homeland Security contractors. However, Reyes is not the candidate he was 16 years ago and he has shown his support for border enforcement reform, his criticism against border enforcement abuses, and his support for immigration reform. We do not think that if O'Rourke is elected he will refuse contributions from DHS contractors. As for immigration reform, O'Rourke supports this but his displacement stance conflicts with his immigration reform stance as many people migrant to the United States due to displacement in their home countries only to face displacement in El Paso. If immigration reform and the drug war can be seen as an international issues important to El Paso's White liberals, why not displacement.

Note 2. "The El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization / Transportation Policy Board is the regional planning and programming agency responsible for working with residents, neighborhood groups, local, state and federal agencies, along with transportation providers in El Paso County, Texas, southern Dona Ana and Otero Counties in New Mexico." (see http://www.elpasompo.org/) The El Paso City Council appoints several city representatives to serve on this board. O'Rourke has hedged the issue about a port-of-entry (POE) at Yarbrough although he has gone on record supporting one. Before O'Rourke and Sanders became involved in this issues, the proposed site was south of the Zaragoza bridge, but this soon changed due to Sander's interests as well as interests from developers in the Butterfield Trail Industrial Park. O'Rourke has hedged this issues by passing the buck to the decision of the MPO and other entities which he was part and will not go on the record opposing a port of entry through a neighborhood. POE are hotspots for pollution, high levels of carbon monoxide, particle matter, and air toxics and a new POE at Yarbrough Drive has the potential to raze churches, schools, and lower valley landmarks. Ysleta Pre-K is less then 2000 feet from the border and 6 schools are near the proposed POE with 2,922 students. For this reason the Ysleta Indpendent School District has gone on record against this port of entry passing a resolution in 2009. Furthermore, whether intended or not, there is the possibility of increase wear and tear, stop-and-go traffic, pollution on Yarbrough Drive and to make potential to make Yarbrough Dr. into a highway with overpasses similar to what occurred in Chamizal (see El Paso Times Chamizal neighborhood residents upset over commercial truck traffic). As shown above, the  Metropolitan Planning Organization has already published maps to make Yarbrough Dr. a truck route to connect proposed POE to Butterfield Trail warehouses via Global Reach. · A truck bypass is already being constructed on the Mexican side opposite Yarbrough Dr. · City of El Paso Revitalization Strategies and  Weed & Seed for Chamizal and Segundo Barrio blame numerous problems in the neighborhood to its proximity to the POE at the Bridge of the Americas.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Comadres at the Wall: Rumors and Ratones

Comadres at the Wall: Rumors and Ratones

Scientific Poll?

The El Paso Times ran a front-page story on a Coronado High School poll on the congressional race between Silvestre Reyes and Robert "Beto" O'Rourke. Although a small poll, the Times ran it as if Gallup had produced it. Rumor is that the student polled Silvestre Reyes when he went to vote asking him who he was going to vote for, not knowing it was the congressman.

El Paso Times Racial Divide

News from the El Paso Times newsroom. We heard that many people of color in the room are disappointed at the Times coverage of the election from removing comments to stories, not fact checking O'Rourke campaign attacks against Reyes, using unnamed sources to name a few (I know we give unnamed sources in this post, but shit, just rumors). We hear the divide run along racial lines. If you read Mario T. Garcia's book on former El Paso Mayor Raymond Tellez, you can see that not much as changed at the El Paso Times, with exception of more Chicano and Latinos working there.


Segundo Barrio Endorsement

Not so fast. There has been an uproar in the Segundo Barrio over what looked like endorsements from Segundo Barrio residents. Even Susie Byrd posted it on her Facebook wall. Apparently, one resident who was quoted in a recent campaign mail out by O'Rourke said that he was interviewed about O'Rourke last year and that he did say some good things. However, this person did not know the O'Rourke campaign would run his comments as an endorsement. He was surprised and extremely upset. No, he remembers O'Rourke trying to raze the Segundo Barrio which he found unforgivable. He's voting for the other guy.


Just In Case

Looking at recent contributions, some prominent Republicans are not so keen on O'Rourke. Some have made donations to other candidates of recent. I'm not so keen on receiving Republican money (we'll leave that to Naomi Gonzalez), but I guess these Republicans don't have the faith.

Occupy Discontents

Talking with a few occupiers, some disgrunts from the pack. Some feel their movement has been taken over by White academic elites.  And they were fearing the Democratic Party.

Mayoral Recall and Just Two Weeks

Saw a table at a park for the second effort to recall Mayor John Cooks. Recall not dead! Also, heard from one of the person doing the first recall. Although I can't agree with their position, their comments are interesting. According to one recall organizer, it just took a week-and-a-half to get the signature required to recall City Rep. Steve Ortega. Uhm, Mayor Ortega. Shit, the gavachos will pick a White person over you any day Steve, even if you pick them over our people everyday. Yikes! Scooby Doo where are you!

Texas Watchdog: Congressional candidate Robert ‘Beto’ O’Rourke - who criticized opponent Reyes’ campaign payments to family - has paid own family/business $22K

Congressional candidate Robert ‘Beto’ O’Rourke - who criticized opponent Reyes’ campaign payments to family - has paid own family/business $22K

The scathing report detailing the payments of U.S. Congress members to families was a gift to Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, a former El Paso city council member and Democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the far West Texas 16th congressional district.

The
investigative study found that Reyes spent campaign funds on his own reimbursement for expenses related to his campaign in 2008, as well as feathering his own family nest with payments to relatives for fundraising, travel expenses and political contributions. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington compiled the report.

"This shows that Reyes is working for himself, his family and those close to him," O'Rourke
told the El Paso Times. "It makes it more clear than ever that we need reform in Washington, D.C. He paid his brother, Chuy. He paid himself. He paid his niece. He paid his niece's husband. The whole family was involved."

Reyes defended his expenditures, saying that he was pleased to have family that could help him. Which means apparently that he thinks such a practice is fine.


But while O’Rourke was speaking about reform in Washington, he forgot to mention his own payments to his business and family members of $22,800.

Read More.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The O'Rourke and Scott Walker Link: The Rights of Public Employees to Organize - Breaking the Police Union


Pictured above, Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency was hired to break the miner's union and strike

The O'Rourke and Gov. Scott Walker Link: The Rights of Public Employees to Organize -

Breaking the Police Union

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Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

One of the areas where workers join to form union in El Paso has been in the public sector. For example, the firefighters have a union, and this union represents the employees in getting a contract with the City of El Paso.

On August 3, 2010, the El Paso City Council “voted 6 to 2 to furlough police officers for up to three days in the next fiscal year to make up for the shortfall in the budget.” (see “Council votes to Furlough Police http://www.ktsm.com/news/council-votes-to-furlough-police).
In the debate, the conversation focused on the police academy. Then city council representative, Beto O'Rourke commented on how he feared adding new police officer from the academy because it would add “union members to the police force.” (See Video Play of August 3, 2010 meeting of the El PasoCity Council).

It was at this meeting that O'Rourke asked the City Attorney about the possibility of breaking the police union: “What are the provision and opportunities for the voters of El Paso to go back to some other form of representation.” (see Video Play) The city attorney said El Paso is under a collective bargaining statute and that the voters would have to vote it out under state law. O'Rourke then asked the City Attorney to “update him” on that issues. (see Video Play)

It was just a simple question but does not mean O'Rourke wanted to break the union, he was just asking questions, right?

What happened next opens up O'Rourke's stance on public employee's organizing. He let his views be know about the right of employees to organize. O'Rourke told KTSM Channel 9, "I think the police union is out of control, and it makes me question the need and wisdom of having a police union in El Paso.” (see “Council votes to Furlough Police” above).

Ron Martin, president of the El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association, recently brought this up in his web message to member: “I didn’t try to remove 20 years of Collective Bargaining because you now think it’s not fair for both sides, but when officers were getting no pay raises you thought it was fair and brushed us off!” (see PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE http://www.epmpoa.org/?zone=/unionactive/private_view_page.cfm&page=PRESIDENT20MESSAGE).

After the union put out a satirical ad attacking spoofing the El Paso City Council, “O'Rourke later told ABC-7, “"I think the police union -- not the police force, and not the police officers -- but the union is out of control," he said. (see Police Association's Radio Ad Targets El Paso City Council, http://www.kvia.com/news/24546381/detail.html By ABC-7 Reporter Ken Molestina, POSTED: 10:18 pm MDT August 6, 2010, UPDATED: 3:09 am MDT August 7, 2010).

This is a disturbing view. Sure the police force may have it issues, including budget ones, but does that mean that the union should be broken. The point is to negotiate, but some think employees should have have the right to negotiate.

Though it seems long ago, many gave their lives for the right of workers to unionize. Many employers, including government entities abuse workers, then and still.

As you know, almost every Republic president makes the decision that his administration will not negotiate with the unions that represent government employees. This is not unlike O'Rourke's view. If I'm correct, the Democratic Party's platform always includes a stance supporting the right of workers, including public employees, to organize.

The recent ruckus in Wisconsin over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign to take away the right of public employees to organize is not far from what O'Rourke's stance.

Why question the “need and wisdom” of having a union. Having a union -- as well as the right to organize -- is a universal human right.

Worker rights are civil right, except according to some politicians.
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Monday, May 7, 2012

En alguna parte leí de la libertad de asamblea


En alguna parte leí de la libertad de asamblea

El Puente de Beto O'Rourke y la audacia de la personas de color a pedir una reunión pública 

"Pero en alguna parte leí de la libertad de asamblea. En alguna parte leí de la libertad de expresión. En alguna parte leí de la libertad de prensa. En alguna parte leí que la grandeza de América es el derecho de protestar para derechos." --- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Me pegó curioso en cuanto a porqué algo dudaría que la persona de color pidiera una reunión pública para tratar los agravios, especialmente los agravios que incluyen la demolición de sus hogares, la salud de sus niños, y el tráfico creciente en su comunidad. ¿No están nuestros niños y hogares de la importancia extrema a nosotros, quizá incluso en la tapa de la lista de nuestras prioridades?

El aspecto racial de la reunión pública reciente con respecto a el puente de Beto O'Roarke en la calle de Yarbrough es muy interesante. ¿Según lo retratado por alguno, el miembro del Congreso que se sienta forzado sobre 300 residentes para venir a una reunión y forzado estos residentes a hablar hacia fuerza? ¿Como si la persona de color no pueda tomar su propia decisión en qué atender y porqué. Los residentes del valle pidieron el asimiento de YISD esta reunión y los administradores de YISD como cargos electos, respondidos a sus componentes.

Pero algunos dicen que usted no debe tener estas reuniones públicas porque implica un yerno de un billionario que está corriendo para el congreso, alguien que evade las temas y no tomará un soporte contra el puente de Beto O'Roarke.

La respuesta a ésa está clara en simple: cuando implica la salud y los niños y la demolición de vecindades, AHORA está la derecha y solamente la hora de tener una reunión pública.

Me pregunto si esta puente habría presentado en una parte de los blancos en El Paso. ¿Habríamos preguntado a los asistentes o los habíamos retratado como residentes ignorantes, admitidos fácilmente por teorías de la conspiración? El El Paso Times toda via no a entrevistarse con a un residente que viva en el valle o en el area de la calle Yabrough. En lugar han cotizado solamente a los blancos ricos de El Paso.

¿Podría ser que la persona de color en El Paso puede hacer su investigación, puede hacer solicitudes de registro abiertas, lee toneladas de minutos y de expedientes de impuesto, documentos de la propiedad de terreno, y más?

Sin embargo, nos todavía retratan como ignorantes. Nosotros no podremos piensa para nosotros mismos. Es también triste cómo es a menudo algunos otras personas de color que hace éstos la declaración a esa idea. Tenemos una derecha de montar y una derecha de tratar nuestros agravios porque, como Martin Luther King Jr. dijo, " En alguna parte leí de la libertad de assembly."

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Somewhere I Read Of the Freedom of Assembly


Somewhere I Read Of the Freedom of Assembly
Beto's Bridge & The Audacity of People of Color to Call for a Public Meeting

"But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right." 

                                         

                        -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "I've Been to the Mountaintop"

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It struck me curious as to why some would doubt that people of color would call for a public meeting to address grievances, especially grievances that include demolition of their homes, health of their children, and increased traffic in their community. Are not our children and homes of utmost importance to us, maybe even at the top of the list of our priorities?

 

The racial aspect of the recent public meeting regarding Beto's Bridge at Yarbrough Drive are very interesting. As portrayed by some, the sitting congressman coerced over 300 residents to come to a meeting and coerced these residents to speak out. As if people of color cannot make their own decision on what to attend and why. Valley residents requested YISD hold this meeting and YISD trustees as elected officials, responded to their constituents.

 

But some say you should not have these public meetings because it involves a billionaire's son-in-law who is running for congress, someone who evades the issues, will not take a stand against Beto's Bridge. 


The answer to that is clear in simple: when it involves the health and children and the demolition of neighborhoods, NOW is the right and only time to have a public meeting.

I wonder if this issue would have arisen in a White part of El Paso. Would we have questioned the attendees or portrayed them as ignorant residents, easily taken in by conspiracy theories? The El Paso Times has yet to interview one resident who lives in the valley or along Yabrough. Instead they have quoted only White-rich El Pasoans.

Could it be that people of color in El Paso can do their research, can do open records requests, read through tons of minutes and tax records, land ownership documents, and more?

Nevertheless, we are still portrayed as ignorant. We can't think for ourselves. It's also sad how it is often some other people of color that make these statement to that idea.

We have a right to assemble and a right to address our grievances because, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly." 

 


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Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Right to Assemble: Burning Down the Bridge

The Right to Assemble: Burning Down the Bridge to Public Meetings


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The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom of assembly stating that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Not only in our constitution, but also the freedom of assembly is a basic human right as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - article 201.

Yarbrough Port of Entry and Right to Assemble

On May 2, 2012, an informational forum took place at Riverside Middle School in El Paso's east valley. The meeting concerned the proposed international port of entry at Yarbrough. Although no government entity was trying to prevent the assembly, it was amazing the office holders who were trying to prevent it from happening or portraying it as a campaign event.

1. The informational session was requested by valley residents

2. Port of Entries through neighborhoods do not work!

3. Any issue that affects the health or the displacement of residents who live around Yarbrough is an issue that elected candidates should be concerned about and which they should inform their constitutes. Last night, almost every elected official from the national level to the school trustee, County Commissioners Court, state representatives level, was present.

All except the city representative who represents that area. However, the two representatives who represents the neighboring city council districts were present, so maybe they will pass the word to the one not present.

4. Valley residents, as well as upper Yarbrough residents, had petitions and from the climate in the room last night -- they had grievances.

5. Every resident has a right to the city

6. Port of Entries (POEs) through neighborhoods does not work!

7. This is not the first meeting regarding this issue. Perhaps the first one a congressional candidate and others found out about (although the minutes posted below shows he knew of others), but there have already been meetings on this long before a certain congressional candidate announced he was running for congress.

8. A congressional candidate was not invited. That did not stop other candidates from attending and speaking. And Pastor Brown wasn't even there to scare anyone away.

9. This is not the first meeting on this issues that Silvestre Reyes has attended. It's the first that has gotten media attention and maybe that's what scares people.

10. An elected official who represents a constituency, especially if this constituency is in a poorer part of the area the official represents, should be against anything that would injure the health, require the demolition of constituency's homes, or displace a his constituency. Last night, many candidates and incumbents were present stating they are against a POE at Yarbrough. Except one -- but not surprising as history repeats itself -- Segundo Barrio.

9. We should be use to O'Rourke response to the public meeting. Public meetings with people of color are not his specialty


However, public meetings on the POE issues have been held before although some were against hosting these meetings. See below.

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At the Feb. 5, 2010 of the Transportation Policy Board held at the MPO office (see Minutes TPB, Item 6, p. 3). The conversation focused on how the "meetings of the Advisory Committee made up of the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA), MPO, and the City of El Paso; their meetings are not publicly posted.public meetings were not being properly."

Rep. Steve Ortega stated that "Various public meetings by different groups might lead to public confusion." (page 3)

TRANSPORTATION POLICY BOARD
Minutes
February 5, 2010

- Rep. Norma Chavez, at that meeting, kept asking "under what capacity the Advisory Committee made to recommend holding public meetings."

- Rep. Pickett asked what the Task Force was providing as public education.
-Rep. Chavez said slides would be shown of the proposed locations within the study area and other issues that come with proposing an additional port of entry. (page 4)
- Rep. Pickett said he would like to just continue with what is done normally and let the consultants carry out the public process along with the data needed. Whether there was a vote of confidence at the time from the Board and whether the decision was to build a bridge at Yarbrough Dr., he would go on the record to vote against it. At the same time, he would like to see if a comprehensive study would change his mind. (page 4)


- Rep. O’Rourke gave his understanding that everyone seemed to want to solve the issue for a more efficient way to move goods and people across the border. Also, TxDOT had agreed to fund the study and the creation of the Advisory Committee to assist to oversee the process. He would like to continue that process. He was unclear as to the authority the Task Force had on the input they would receive from the public meetings to influence the results of the study. He felt he would be better served as a citizen attending public meetings held by the Advisory Committee who would oversee the study and would have affect as to what actually was implemented in the study. He proposed a motion not to have the public education forum on February 24. (this last sentence is bolded in the minutes, "not" is italicized and underline by DIEP for emphasis) (page 4)

- Rep. Chavez made it clear that the purpose of the Task Force was to obtain public trust.

- Rep. Acosta agreed with Rep. Chavez. In the past she had a held series of meetings and the main question asked if there would be a new bridge. Public education forums benefit to publicize the intent of the consultants and the understanding of the scope of the study. It would ease the public’s anxiety about the issue of a new bridge. She would support the public education forum based on reaching out to those without the capability of internet, television, and the Spanish speaking community.

.........

- Rep. Chavez explained that the public education forum would provide the public the scope of services of the international bridges. An email from Mark Tomlinson was sent out to the MPO and the Task Force outlining the expanded scope to include Oregon Street light rail and requesting for specific language on the Santa Teresa, NM, boundaries.

- Eduardo Miranda, legal counsel to the MPO, replied that the Task Force was a recommending body. Regardless of what would happen at a public meeting, they have no authority to make decisions. Any decision would need to be approved by the TPB. To the extent that items are discussed at the TPB meetings, it’s not legally necessary for the Task Force to hold public meetings. As long as the public is informed that it was a recommending process.

Rep. Marquez said it was good to have the items brought up to the board to discuss openly. Would the scope of services be complete before February 24 public meeting and what if the information for the geographic locations changes after the consultants are involved?

Rep. Chavez replied that the scope should be complete by the coming Monday and specific locations were not being addressed but addressing four regions; Tornillo/Guadalupe, Mid-Valley, Westside and southern New Mexico. To be clear, the Task Force doesn’t need approval from the TPB in order to hold the public education forums.

- Rep. Ortega brought up the need to have items discussed at the TPB meetings. The way this may be interpreted would be that it seemed that an elected official chose to hold public meetings at their discretion. The procedural governance issue would occur when directing MPO staff to attend particular meetings. For that, it would require direction from the TPB to give Mr. Gilyard and staff authority to present at such meetings.

- Mr. Miranda replied that the item on the agenda didn’t require doing that.

- Rep. Chavez said for the record, an official meeting of the Task Force would be called and posted for February 24, 2010 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Riverside High School.

- Rep. O’Rourke withdrew his motion to not have the public education forum. (bolded by DIEP for emphasis)

Please note the Minutes of this meeting are no longer posted on the MPO's website. It's not the first thing that has been removed
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

El Paso Times: Sunland Park lobbyist arrested in El Paso


LAS CRUCES -- A lobbyist was arrested Monday in El Paso County in the continuing investigation into criminal activity in Sunland Park, and more charges were leveled against the former Mayor-elect Daniel Salinas.
The lobbyist allegedly helped Salinas pay for a topless-dancer extortion video using taxpayer money.
Prosecutors filed nine new felony-level counts against Salinas, 28, including fraud and receiving kickbacks, as part of the same case. Those are added to the 24 other charges he faces from three other criminal cases.

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El Paso Times: Dirty-campaign accusations rise at forum

SOCORRO -- A forum for candidates in the Precinct 3 county commissioner race on Tuesday attracted more political candidates and their families and supporters than community residents -- making it more of a cheering competition than a debate.
The forum was hosted by the Socorro Police Officers Association in conjunction with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office Association and moderated by local political blogger Jaime Abeytia.
The 90-minute forum between the Democratic primary candidates -- Rodolfo "Rudy" Loya, Dora Oaxaca, Vince Perez and Chente Quintanilla -- ended with accusations of dirty campaigning and cheers and boos from the audience of about 50 people.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bill Sanders Unleashes Beto 4.0 Amid Malfunction of BetoBot


Technical News

Bill Sanders Unleashes Beto 4.0 
Amid Malfunction of BetoBot
O'Rourke Campaign states Bot was in "Suegro" mode when it exposes Plans for Segundo Barrio and South Yarbrough Ahead of Schedule

by Satira Sinvergüenza 
Senior Technical Reporter
Last week's public malfunction of BetoBot has brought a series of customer complaints and jeers enough to make billionaire El Paso real estate tycoon Bill Sanders announce that he is releasing Beto 4.0 to replace the crash-frequest Beto 3.0.

Above, Sanders introduces the new Beto 4.0

At the Beto 4.0 release, Sanders described the new programing of Beto 4.0 and that programmers have ironed out most of the bugs found in earlier versions, especially Beto 3.0.

This announcement comes as public scrutiny has taken aim at recent malfunctions by a BetoBot with Beto 3.0.

According to witnesses, during a grassroots door-to-door district walking on Saturday in El Paso near South Yarbrough, BetoBot suddenly passed a bulldozer parked on the side of the road, jumped aboard starting the ignition, and drove toward the Ysleta Pre-K, Centro Cristiana Alpha y Omega, and Valentine's Bakery before neighborhood residents jumped aboard the bulldozer and stopped BetoBot.


“This is pretty alarming,” says CNET analyst Amado D. Kompuradoras. “The Betobot has had a series of problems since its initial outing as Robert O'Rourke.1.0. At that time, that version was sufficiently Republican until you got the BetoBot was released in Version 3.0, name change and all, now a Democrat.”

“I think the main problems the O'Rourke Campaign has had with the Beto 3.0 software," said Kompurador, "is several stability, reliability, and performance issues in the Beto 3.0 software"

However, computer analyst, Dan Deknica, says this is not the only problem with Beto 3.0.

At a recent party in the Five Points area of El Paso, Betobot danced up a storm with a local city politician and then suddenly started spurting out the names of the high-end contributors to the O'Rourke campaign, the majority being Republican donors including super-suegro Bill Sanders, Robert Hoy, among other.

Above, this past Saturday, Lower Yarbrough Dr. residents saved Valentine's Bakery & Ysleta Pre-K from destruction by Betobot. In a public statement, the O'Rourke Campaign said that demolition of Lower Yarbrough is not to begin until next year but a malfunction made BetoBot confused dates.

“We think this was just a vulnerability issues,” says Deknica. “One that exposes Betobot to flip flopping, run time errors, and other quirks.”

However, Saturday's incident has left many wondering about the reliability of Beto 4.0.

A previous version of BetoBot malfunctioned at an El Paso City Council meeting killing six city representatives before being disabled by Rep. Steve Ortega who had received training in disabling Beto 2.0's Suegro Mode.

In a statement, Annie Mentomain, technical director for the O'Rourke Campaign said the issue is very simple.

"There are various settings for Beto 3.0. On Friday, the setting was set to 'Suegro Mode.' At this setting, consumers can enjoy the 'classic mode,' the old Robert 1.0 through 2.0 settings such as bulldozing Segundo Barrio, building a port of entry over a Pre-School, and more Republican-like features,” said Mentomain.

“However, the campaign,” admitted Mentomain, “we forgot to switch Beto.3.0 back to Democrat mode on Saturday morning and this explain the incident with the bulldozer.”
BetoBot with Beto 2.0 killed 30 police officers at a Los Angeles police precinct in 1984

At Sanders' introduction of Beto 4.0, he explain that Beto 4.0 has settings for the far left too. “At our Cheechnchong Setting, Beto 3.0 can be spurting all the marijuana legalization talking points we grew to love until the race for U.S. Congress began,” says Sanders.

The O'Rourke campaign however, admitted that because of reliability issues, they seldom put Beto 3.0 on its Cheechnchong setting.

“What happened Saturday at lower Yarbrough was unfortunate,” says Ben Dido, the campaign Hispanic outreach coordinator, “and we are glad lower valley residents were able to stop Beto 3.0 before any demolition occurred.”

“It's is not in Beto 3.0's programing to bulldoze lower Yarbrough for a port of entry for his suegro,” says Dido, “at least not until after Beto 4.0 wins the election.”

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