This article originally appeared on January 10, 2017.
Over the last twenty years, we’ve spent a lot of money on Downtown. For Union Plaza. The Plaza Theatre. The ballpark. Relocating City Hall. San Jacinto Plaza.
Hundreds of millions of dollars. Hundreds of millions.
But it’s never enough. Like a junkie that just wants to put more smack in his arm, our “city leaders” just want more.
“Economic development,” they say.
Guess what? It’s not working.
Except for a smattering of retail, we’re not attracting any new businesses. Most of that new retail was drawn by the strength of the Mexican consumer, and the peso has lost a third of its dollar value in the last two years. That’s not coming back anytime soon.
“Stop the brain drain,” they say.
Guess what? Your son with a degree in Computer Science isn’t going to take a job serving lattes at Starbucks. Your daughter who just got her master’s in Mechanical Engineering won’t be happy running a register at Whole Foods. You think they’re going to work the snack bar at the arena?
Explain to me, like I’m five, how a new downtown arena will help your average El Pasoan.
Our elected officials keep telling us that we need the “economic development” to put more of the tax burden on commercial property owners, but they just keep sticking us with the bill for more shiny gewgaws and there’s no relief in sight, and no “economic development.”
And frankly, the City could afford to save the $180 million initial investment, and the interest and operating and maintenance costs every year.
The only people benefiting from all that investment in downtown are the developers and real estate speculators. I’m tired of our local governments and school districts picking our pockets for the benefit of their campaign contributors.
When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.