El Paso Times Covers the Arena Lawsuit. Sort Of.

The El Paso Times finally got around to covering the lawsuit over the arena this weekend. The story came out on a Saturday, which is where the Times puts stories that it doesn’t want people to notice. People are too busy changing their oil, or re-primering their Jeep, to read the paper on Saturdays.

Unfortunately, despite what I can only assume are their best efforts, the Times still blew it.

The city is seeking a court hearing to validate its stance that the controversial multipurpose arena can be built in Union Plaza in Downtown El Paso, according to documents filed this week in Austin.

The filing is in response to a threat of a lawsuit by opponents of the arena’s proposed location in the Duranguito area of Union Plaza. Opponents claim that the city’s plans are not what voters approved in the quality of life bond election in 2012.

I believe that this is the first mention of a threat of a lawsuit in the El Paso Times. But even then they don’t get the arguments right.

The dispute stems from the language on the ballot that called for a “multi-purpose performing arts and entertainment facility” that did not mention a Downtown location.

My understanding is that the suit is about the City’s bait-and-switch tactics. The City had us vote on a “Multi-Purpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Facility” but when they put out their RFQ, they asked for an arena.

Sure, I guess you could cram D-League basketball into “entertainment.” But if we were voting on an arena, why not call it an arena?

I find it disturbing that every time the City opens its mouth, it lies to us. This isn’t the first time or even the fifth time. But I guess, with that major media in their pocket, they don’t have to worry about being called out for their lies and obfuscations.

Here’s what the Inc. reported about the lawsuit.

[Arena opponents’ attorney Frank] Ainsa advised the city that his clients’ suit would challenge not just the arena site but the arena project itself because neither the ordinance calling the election nor the ballot referred to it as the sports facility the city planned.

I know that the El Paso Times got to the story late. Like they say, both Mr. Ainsa and City Attorney Sylvia Borunda-Firth were out of town on Thursday. But they mention that the City received notice of a lawsuit in an April 17 letter, and then link to a story that come out February 7, that doesn’t mention the lawsuit. I guess they’re banking on their readers not clicking the links.

Maybe they should have linked to some of the stories in El Chuqueño.


  1. I really wish everyone would just drop the Arena thing and go about their lives. Both sides seem to be engaging in questionable/dishonest rhetoric and it’s getting really irritating. On the one hand you have the Grossman crowd going on and on about the historical value of buildings that none of them gave a rats ass about a year ago. Then on the other hand you have the City, an organization that would be thrilled to reach Keystone Cops levels of incompetence.

    From what I can see, the simple fact is that there are some historic buildings in the “duranguito” area but there are relatively few that would actually be contributing. Even the much vaunted report from the City back in the 90s shows relatively few contributing buildings (at least compared to other historical neighborhoods) and several of those have been torn down in the last 20+ years.

    Then you have the fact that this whole mess is going on in Texas and if the Times is right, the City has negotiated agreements to buy all but one of the parcels they wanted. That’s it, end of story. If the property owners want to sell to the City so it can make an arena, parking lot, or empty dirt lot they can and nothing can “force” those property owners or the City to do something else. Look at the one apartment building that (finally) got some court attention a couple of months back. The owner decided to move everyone out and keep the property empty instead of maintaining basic decent living conditions. Last I heard there were grumblings about that but nothing that could actually stop or undo what he had done. Hell River Oaks has demolished plenty of buildings down town in the last few years an no amount of griping or whining has done anything to stop them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like old buildings, but Texas laws tend to heavily favor property owners so if shaming someone won’t work (e.g. Billy Abraham and the Chinese Laundry) then there isn’t much we can do. Add to that the fact that “Duranguito” has slowly been picked apart and modernized over the decades and it really just comes down to a bunch of people arguing about whether or not to build an Arena (or what have you) and all the posturing aside none of them can definitively say whether that’s a good or a bad thing. It’s not about the tenants or the community or the building it’s about stubborn people insisting on being right and having the last word.

    1. Two things.

      1) The arena is stupid and we can’t afford it. The only function it serves, as I see it, is to transfer taxpayer money to people who don’t need it.

      2) If we are dead set on an arena, put it someplace else. If you put it in Union Plaza, it’ll create a band of dead space isolating that Union Plaza entertainment district probably two hundred days of the year.

      If you don’t like the neighborhood the way it is, gentrify it. Improve those houses. Improve those tenements. Make it so rich people want to live there. (Or at least the “young professionals.”) Don’t hijack local government with campaign donations and backroom deals.

      Also, it’s not cool to kick poor people out of their houses so rich people can watch D League basketball from luxury suites.

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