Those politicians sitting in chambers at City Hall would like you to believe that their hearts grew three sizes one day, and, as a result, they decided to relocate the impending downtown arena.
Well, maybe their hearts did grow. Or maybe, where their hearts belong, they have a computer programmed with all the latest political calculus algorithms. You decide.
But before you go chasing unicorns, let me fill you in on some of the backroom machinations.
Dr. Max Grossman, vice-chairman of the El Paso County Historical Commission, told me he had enlisted the help of a deep-pocketed fancier of historical architecture, and with his backing, had contracted a high-powered attorney to fight the threats of “eminent domain” the City was aiming at the recalcitrant homeowners.
A week of so before City Council came to Jesus, Dr. Grossman informed the City (via, I believe, the City Attorney) that they were staring down the barrel of a long and costly lawsuit, during which time the County Historical Commission would secure an historical overlay of the Duranguito neighborhood which would prevent the destruction of the city’s first neighborhood.
Remember what District 5 Representative Dr. Michiel Noe said when asked by CBS4Local about his non-vote?
“What does it do to businesses that are considering coming here and they see us get this far on a project and suddenly with a little opposition from out-of-town community activists we just cave in and say ‘OK, never mind, we won’t do this.’ Can they trust this council?” Noe asked.
(In the parallel universe in which Dr. Noe resides, there are businesses considering coming here.)
I reckon that somehow, in Dr. Noe’s mind, out-of-town community activists are inferior to local real estate speculators trying to kick the abuelitas out of their homes so rich people can watch concerts from luxury suites.
But those out-of-town community activists he’s talking about fancy historical architecture, and they were willing to finance a legal battle with the City to preserve it.
In all fairness, maybe our representatives on City Council really did develop “feelings.” And “compassion.” And “common sense.” Maybe they realized that a City Council marooned on an island of billionaires is hard to sell to “businesses considering coming here.”
[CORRECTED 2017 Jan 5 to show that Dr. Grossman is vice-chairman of the El Paso County Historical Commission and not the El Paso County Historical Society.]