Paul Foster Needs a Hobby

Paul Foster inserted himself into the news cycle this week, with this email he sent to all the players on Team Foster and the media.

From: Paul Foster
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 11:41 AM

To: Dee Margo <mayor@elpasotexas.gov>; Peter Svarzbein <district1@elpasotexas.gov>; district2@elpasotexas.gov; Cassandra Hernandez <district3@elpasotexas.gov>; Sam Morgan <district4@elpasotexas.gov>; Isabel Salcido <district5@elpasotexas.gov>; distrist6@elpasotexas.gov; Henry Rivera <district7@elpasotexas.gov>; Cissy Lizarraga <district8@elpasotexas.gov>

Cc: Tommy Gonzalez <gtgonzalez44@gmail.com>

Subject: Thank you for Defending the Citizens of El Paso

Mayor and Council,

I just wanted to drop you a short note to thank you for standing up against the loud and vocal minority who are constantly trying to drag our city down, and who are doing everything in their power to override the will of the fine people of our great city. 

We have a college professor who, under the guise of historic preservation, has apparently made it his life’s work to destroy the redevelopment and revitalization of downtown El Paso.  He is supported by a guy who apparently has lots of money to throw around who doesn’t have any ties to El Paso.  He doesn’t own property in El Paso. He doesn’t pay taxes in El Paso.  And he doesn’t vote in El Paso.  This same man has filed suit against Brewster County for trying to protect its citizens during this pandemic because he wanted to keep his hotel open.  We don’t want him here and we don’t need him here, and thanks to your collective courage, you sent that message loud and clear at yesterday’s council meeting.

There are lots of people in El Paso who want to see our city move forward.  We have made incredible progress over the past fifteen years despite the efforts of a few naysayers.  El Paso is an incredible city with marvelous historic buildings and a fascinating history that must be preserved.  I am doing my small part to make sure that progress continues, and lots of other people are as well.  Our citizens voted overwhelmingly for a downtown arena and thanks to you, we are still on track to build it.  Any city on the rise in America has a downtown arena and entertainment facility, and everyone knows that.  Only those who are opposed to progress would stand in the way of such an incredible opportunity.

So thank you once again.  You have done your job.  And the citizens of El Paso appreciate it.  I hope each of you and your families are faring well during these unprecedented times.

Sincerely,

Paul Foster

The question all the pundits are asking: Why is Mr. Foster emailing City Manager Tommy Gonzalez on his private email address, instead of Mr. Gonzalez’ city email address?

Mr. Foster has had a rough couple of weeks. He’s an oilman, and he’s taken a beating lately. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate, a benchmark crude, is selling for about $20 today, and in the last year the price has been as high as $65.65. Forbes reports that in March of 2019, Mr. Foster was worth $1.7 billion, and today he’s worth $1.4 billion, representing a loss of $300 million.

Losing $300 and still being a billionaire is a problem that a lot of us might like to have, but it makes Mr. Foster feel like someone pissed on his Cheerios. Sure, as far as his lifestyle goes, $300 million is just a lot of zeroes. But the ultra-rich count the zeroes.

All of a sudden, those millions of dollars that Mr. Foster put into downtown El Paso look like Don Pablo’s folly. Mr. Foster is agitating for a downtown arena so he can get a return on his downtown real estate gambit, seems like.

A downtown arena won’t save downtown El Paso. Mr. Foster asserts that ” Any city on the rise in America has a downtown arena and entertainment facility, and everyone knows that.”

Ding ding ding.

That’s your bullshit alarm going off. It’s a long road from correlation to causality, and Mr. Foster needs to draw us a map. How, exactly, does a downtown arena create a city on the rise? A lot of cities in decline have downtown arenas, also. A downtown arena is not a Silver Bullet.

I could spend a couple of six-packs telling Mr. Foster how El Paso is not like other cities, but I’m off the beer these days. Mostly.

The premise of El Paso’s plans for economic development are these features of other cities. Other cities have hip destination retail, so we better court it. But more businesses don’t make more business. All that new imported retail competes with existing homegrown retail.

Our plan is a failure. El Paso is operating on a plan that was dated when it was formulated fifteen years ago, a plan based on nostalgia.

Baseball? Really? Wikipedia says the Golden Age of Baseball ended in 1960.

Americans flocked to Juarez in the 1960’s. These days, even pre-pandemic, not so much.

If El Paso wants to relive the past, we should be putting money into developing a Time Machine instead of a downtown arena.

And the post-Covid future is going to look a lot different than recent pre-Covid past.

Will sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with 14,999 other people in a downtown arena be attractive?

The economy is undergoing a radical change, and not just the entertainment facilities and oilfields. In the future, people will generally be poorer. Many of us will find we’ve been selling buggy whips and fixing typewriters all this time. Huge swaths of the economy will go under. The United States has been a service economy, and we’re finding we can perform many of those services ourselves.

The rich will get richer, like the robber barons of the late 19th century. But those robber barons won’t be coming to El Paso. Not even if El Paso has a downtown arena.

Mr. Foster and his minions want to convince you that the City of El Paso needs to spend up to a half a billion dollars on an arena that stands a good chance of being obsolete before the first spade is turned.

Paul Foster needs a hobby that doesn’t cost the taxpayers any more money.

16 comments

  1. Rich, I suggest everyone read Field of Schemes. Though written in 1988 and updated, it lays down how arenas and sports venues are ripping taxpayers off. They also have a website and Facebook page of the same name. Foster, Hunt, and the rest stick around here because they know they won’t find a more apathetic group to give them hard earned money for nothing.

  2. Rich: Very good article it touches the main point of Foster leit motiv: greed, greed and greed. He feels he is the owner of El Paso, as his wife feels she is the owner of Juarez, its part of a family affair. This type of behavior is typical of banana countries, maybe they thought that the border with Juarez, unmasks their truly vocation: predatory. Glad there are persons like you.

  3. El Pasoans are treated like a bunch of dumb rubes by our ruling class which is only slightly less dumb but they have what passes for good money in these parts. Anywhere else in the country they’d be regarded as cheap white trash. Our mayor is from Alabama. In Alabama you can marry your 14 year old first cousin if your uncle says it’s OK. Our wealthiest families are only a few generations away from running a Circle K. So here’s the tired old platitude. Elections have consequences. Stop voting for hillbillies and self loathing Mexicans.

  4. Rich, Your take on Foster is brilliant–and it has entertainment value, as is your style. Are going to do commentary on Hunt? On Margo? Lot’s of good material out there. Thanks for doing what what you do.
    Oscar J. Martinez

  5. I believe that Paul Foster is charlatan and he continues to use his money to corrupt the above name so-called representatives. You were elected to represent all citizens not just the one that lines your pockets. All named representatives named should be ashamed. After laying off all employees did you not feel any guilt and keeping the area. Remember karma is a bitch and I hope you all are served a very large portion.

  6. El Pasoans should pitch in, to send Paul Foster on a slow boat to China, post-COVID-19. These Orson Welles wannabe geniuses are tedious—not for wanting flamboyant civic madness, but for having such tedious, ordinary dreams!

  7. Did the people of El Paso forget what Mr. Foster has invested and done for our community? Do you realize that he invested 40 million dollars into the Paul Foster School of Medicine AND paid for tuition for the first 75 students? If he had not donated that massive amount of money, this school would not even be in El Paso. Recently, he partnered up with MountainStar Group and the Hunt family to establish a grant program of 1 million dollars to assist the El Paso Fighting Hunger Food Bank during the COVID-19 health crisis. He has invested millions of dollars to renovate old buildings and hotels and in turn, that is providing jobs for people. Wow, what a shame that people are bashing, blaming and criticizing Mr. Foster for the city employee furloughs and the Arena suspension decision. Max Grossman and his minions NEED to put their big boy/girl panties on and suck it up. It is disgusting that he continues to lash out at people who are not going along with his narratives. Thank you Mr. Foster for writing that letter and we are grateful to Mr. Foster for all that he has invested in our community.

    1. You should do your homework better, what about the tax tax breaks at the fountains, what about the tax amount when he said his refinery was worth 500,000 and then sold it for over a billion, what about his stupid baseball team (very overrated) how much do the taxpayers pay for the stadium. How about the land swap where he got 100s of acres for 10 acres. He donates pennies and we reward him by giving him dollars. DO THE MATH

  8. It bothers the hell out of me that Foster acts as if he represents all the “fine people of El Paso”. That dude is so out of touch with the average El Pasoan. He represents himself and his millionaire peers and has no clue what El Paso is about.

  9. Where do I start? Foster is being Totally Dishonest. Are we surprised? …lets look at Foster’s note, which is pretty crude, but again, are we surprised? …”he (Max Grossman) is being supported by a “guy” who apparently has alot of money to throw around, who doesn’t have any ties to El Paso. He doesn’t own property in El Paso…..doesn’t pay taxes here…doesn’t vote here.” Well, this “guy” is J.P. Bryan, who is a 6th Generation Texan, his great, great grandmother was Stephen F. Austin’s sister. And, he’s not just ordinary “guy.” He’s put his mouth where his money is. He helped fund the Tom Lea Institute in El Paso to the tune of $200,000. He bought the Gage Hotel when it was a dump and made it a “destination” hotel, in one of the most isolated parts of Texas. Doubt it? Call and see if you can book the hotel for a wedding. He also, out of his own pocket, established the Bryan Museum in Galveston, containing over 70,000 pieces of Texas History, art, maps, documents and rare books. Along with Laura Bush, is a Founding Member of the Tom Lea Institute in El Paso. As he addressed the crowd in El Paso for Tom Lea month, he said, “people enjoy learning about the history of a region by visiting its homes, hotels and other locations from the past.” It is obvious Bryant has a passion for Texana, so else would he want to pay hard earned money on this boondogle that Foster & Crew so desperately want? As Bananas Foster said himself, he doesn’t live here so he can’t possibly benefit from an Arena like Foster & The Good Old Boys? Part I.

  10. Sorry to be so long winded, but I want to break this down into smaller parts. I want to clarify my comment…”why would he (Bryant) want to pay hard earned money (I forgot to insert “on attorney’s fees”). What the citizens voted for 8 years ago, is not current in today’s climate as you correctly noted. Foster knows that full well. He’s a businessman, and ALL businessman, to be successful, constantly re-calibrate their positions. Look at his past history, and even marriages. The new paradigm will be interesting. Densely packed arenas? Who is going to go? And, at a cost of $250 MILLION Dollars? Just as the U.S.A changed post 9/11, America will change forever. This Coronavirus is not just going to automatically die out. If not, there are other viruses lurking out there. The more we interact with animals, and the easier it is to travel, the more likely another virus mutates. Foster goes on to exclaim how “any city on the rise has a downtown arena..”everyone knows it.” Really, who is “Everyone?” Yes, downtown arenas make sense in cities that can afford them or have large urban and suburban cores. And, MOST Importantly, with A LOT of Disposable Income. El Paso? Who is going to fill the arena? And, again with Covid 19? There is now, and despite Moscow Mitch McConnel’s opposition, legal liability in the future. Got Covid 19 at a concert? Abuelita or Grandpa caught it from me and died? Or an artist, who has the money to get tested daily, and at some point we’ll have POC (point of care) testing. Hey, I was clear yesterday in Tucson and now I’ve got Covid 19? I’m gonna sue! And, I hate to burst Banana Foster’s “theory” but we are not on the “rise.” In fact, we are in a decline. If not for people moving here from Juarez, we’d be really declining. And the Highest Taxed City in Texas is a dubious distinction/honor. Foster is clutching at straws because, as Dylan said, “the times are a changing….”. Why can’t El Paso utilize UTEP’s Don Haskins Center, or re-purpose the Abraham Chavez theater? Oh, I forgot, Bananas Foster and his Crew won’t get their Extra Large helping of the pie. Just look at the Chihuahuas. They said, “Build it and they will come.” Well,how much has Foster and his cronies made and how much has the City of El Paso—which is “we the people,” had to pay for this?

  11. Final and last comment, with my apologies for such a long winded response. Foster’s email deserves a rebuttal. Foster mentioned in his email how “this same man,” instead of just naming him. I mean, WTF? He has a name, and his name is J.P. Bryant. Name the man and grow a pair Foster. Anyway, Bananas Foster slanders Bryant by “filing suit in Brewster County.” Well, the reason Bryant filed suit was because the County Judge, Eleazor Cano, declared that all hotels and motels in Brewster County be closed, and no visitors should be allowed into the County on top of that. Well, as anyone who has driven through Alpine or Marfa or Marathon, knows there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of hotels or motels on Highway 90. So if a first responder, traveler, military or “accidental tourist” should find themselves on the road, the’re totally screwed in Brewster County. The “Gateway to Big Bend.” One of the Largest Counties in the USA. On top of that, the Gage Hotel provides jobs for the city of Marathon along with students from Sul Ross State in Alpine, who on weekends, make extra spending money to cover their tuition. Foster implies that without the Gage Hotel he would be destitute and penniless. County Commissioner Ruben Ortega voted against Judge Cano’s order. It should be noted: 2 things. Bryant is represented by Francis Ainsa, whose family has lived in El Paso close to 100 years, growing up at 501 Corto Way in Sunset Heights. A 3rd Generation El Paso attorney. “Oklahoma Dee” and Paul Foster….who knows where he came from. Certainly not from El Paso.
    Secondly, Judge Cano was reprimanded by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for allowing Cano’s name and photo to be used on a political mailer endorsing a (failed) candidate. Cano claimed “ignorance.” Really? WTF? A County Judge doesn’t know the rules? Where did Judge Cano go to law school? Thank You Rich, for bringing this to our attention. This (Foster’s email) is one of the Most Dishonest pieces of crap I’ve read. And, I’ve read A LOT of Crap over the years. “WE don’t want him here and WE don’t need him here,” Bananas Foster writes? Who is WE? I mean, honestly, who the Fuck does Foster think he is? Lord? King? Dictator? Plantation ? Relative to wealth, doing well, but he’d just be a Very small fish in a big pond….meanwhile, he’s the biggest fish in the very small pond of El Paso and he thinks his shit doesn’t stink.

  12. Final comment. This has been a very long post, but it merits reading. I think, and I don’t want to sound arrogant. However, Foster’s email deserves a rebuttal. Foster mentioned in his email how “this same man,” instead of just naming him. I mean, WTF? He has a name, and his name is J.P. Bryant. Name the man and grow a pair Foster. Anyway, Bananas Foster slanders Bryant by saying he “filed suit in Brewster County.” Well, the reason Bryant filed suit was because the County Judge, Eleazor Cano, declared that all hotels and motels in Brewster County be closed, and no visitors should be allowed into the County on top of that. As anyone who has driven through Alpine or Marfa or Marathon, knows there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of hotels or motels on Highway 90. So if a first responder, traveler, military or “accidental tourist” should find themselves on the road, the’re totally screwed in Brewster County. The “Gateway to Big Bend.” One of the Largest Counties in the USA. On top of that, the Gage Hotel provides jobs for the city of Marathon along with students from Sul Ross State in Alpine, who on weekends, make extra spending money to cover their tuition. Foster implies that without the Gage Hotel he would be destitute and penniless. County Commissioner Ruben Ortega voted against Judge Cano’s order. It should be noted: 2 things. Bryant is represented by Francis Ainsa, whose family has lived in El Paso close to 100 years, growing up at 501 Corto Way in Sunset Heights. A 3rd Generation El Paso attorney. “Oklahoma Dee” and Paul Foster….who knows where he came from. Certainly not from El Paso. J.P. Bryant and his family have been here a hell of a lot longer that Oklahoma Dee and Paul Bananas Foster put together.
    Secondly, Judge Cano was reprimanded by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for allowing Cano’s name and photo to be used on a political mailer endorsing a (failed) candidate. Cano claimed “ignorance.” Really? WTF? A County Judge doesn’t know the rules? Where did Judge Cano go to law school? Thank You Rich, for bringing this to our attention. This (Foster’s email) is one of the Most Dishonest pieces of crap I’ve read. And, I’ve read A LOT of Crap over the years. “WE don’t want him here and WE don’t need him here,” Bananas Foster writes? Who is WE? I mean, honestly, who the Fuck does Foster think he is? Lord? King? Dictator? Plantation Owner? El Jefe? Relative to wealth, he’s doing well, but he’d just be a Very small fish in a big pond….meanwhile, he’s the biggest fish in the very small pond of El Paso and he thinks his shit doesn’t stink. This BS reminds me so much of El Paso of the ’50’s and 60’s. We don’t need to go back in time in order to go forward.

  13. Great feedback to a very much needed post! Only one that I perceive as negative (or supportive of the rich guy), and that from a person who chooses to mask their identity. Let’s be clear. Paul Foster has not done a single thing for the benefit of this City that did not benefit him even more. He and his ilk have hurt US more than they have ever helped us. And, the light needs to be turned on him – and them – more and more to try to remind El Pasoans of some of the realities of our life here on the border.

  14. To Renee….Paul Foster’s donations are admirable. However, you have to realize that they are ALL tax write offs, meaning that it helps lower his taxes, and he gets to put his name on a shiny new building. Nothing wrong with it at all, but its not totally altruistic. In regards to buying up “old buildings” and “Hotels”, well again, lets look at the facts. Buying up real estate in downtown El Paso means he gets an array of tax breaks and incentives. Meanwhile, while his real estate is appreciating in value, he gets to depreciate the buildings, so again, he is getting a tax break. As noted above by Gilbert Alonzo, Foster fought long and hard to get his refinery valued (for tax purposes) at way Below market value. When he sold Western Refining, it was “valued” at over a Billion Dollars. So, all those years, he underpaid the City of El Paso millions of tax dollars. And, lets be honest. Texas Tech WOULD have built a medical school in El Paso, with or without Foster’s money. TT is a teaching hospital and they need patients to basically, “practice” on for their students. Cites on or below I-10 have long been under-served and it was time. A Final Point: Foster has contributed extensively to Freedom Partners, a group started by the Koch Brothers, and has helped extremely Conservative causes such as the Tea Party, Tea Party Patriots and opposed Obamacare. ONE of the pillars of Obamacare is preventing patients with pre-existing conditions from being kicked off their insurance plan. Donating $1 million to the food bank? Between he and Hunt is peanuts…..especially considering how much money he has made off of El Paso. Anyone who calls Foster “Mr.” 3 different times in a short paragraph sounds like one of his workers trying to prop up his “Jefe.”

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