This article originally appeared on 26 December 2012. If any of our current elected officials claim that they couldn’t have seen our current situation coming, then maybe they should have been reading El Chuqueño. This article has been lightly edited.
If we want to attract businesses to El Paso, we have our work cut out for us. According to an AP poll done in 2011, 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. When the pollsters analyzed the results of a test designed to measure hidden racism, Americans were even more prejudiced, with 57 percent manifesting “implicit racism” against Hispanics.
Couple that with blistering summer temperatures, dust storms that can take the enamel off your teeth, high property taxes that are only likely to go higher, the blanket pall of public corruption, and public schools that sweep students under the rug so they can pass government mandated tests, and El Paso is drowning in a sea of shit. The City, and El Paso’s best English language daily newspaper, would have us believe that we can overcome America’s latent prejudice with park upgrades and a downtown arena.
The solution, obviously, is to take on half a billion dollars in new debt to polish what many Americans consider a turd. Because there’s nothing that sophisticated decision-makers like better than a shiny turd.
Our city fathers can’t eliminate ethnic prejudice, and they can’t improve the weather. But they chose to pay for the Quality of Life bond issues with higher property taxes, and if new industry wants to consider El Paso as a site for a new manufacturing plant, then I’m sure we can grant them tax concessions, so new industry won’t be saddled with the higher property tax rate the rest of us will bear.
That canard about shifting the residential tax burden to commercial properties won’t happen, and if it does, the commercial establishments will just pass their higher taxes on to consumers. The citizens will still be paying. The money will just pass through more hands.
The City had an opportunity to lower property taxes as we retired existing debt in the coming couple of years. Somehow, they thought a $50 million zoo expansion was more important. They thought that Olympic size swimming pools and a digital wall (whatever that is) were the ante we needed to compete with other cities for new industry.
Lower property taxes aren’t sexy. They’re not the legacy that politicians want to leave as they’re forced out by term limits. But as the State of Texas pulls back services, the City of El Paso will have to step up. I guess the City’s plan is, when the State stops spending money on mental health, we’ll send all those people who need treatment to the zoo. When the State stops funding highways, we can all ride the trolley.
Most people don’t consider all the ramifications of political decisions because, frankly, political decisions are complicated, and the ramifications are difficult to see. So we trust people who probably spend more time looking at the consequences of policy. But when the policy-makers motives diverge from the people’s, the electorate is left high and dry, picking up the bar tab for someone else’s binge, and waking up with their hangover.