We Should Fire Them All

I’m angry.

From KFOX14.com:

Five buildings throughout El Paso are being refurbished to assist the county combat COVID-19.

. . .

The former 911 dispatch center near Kansas Street and Mills Avenue in downtown El Paso will become the COVID-19 response center to house the Education Task Force and contact tracers, Sam Rodriguez, Chief Operations and Transportation Officer, said.

The transformation project has a budget of $6.3 million.

The former Regis Bernard building near First and Stanton in downtown El Paso is being the second location in downtown El Paso being transformed into a testing and vaccination clinic. The project has a budget of $1.3 million.

. . .

Another vaccination and testing site are being built in the Lower Valley on Alameda Avenue near Speaking Rock although construction there has not started. The budget for the Alameda location is of $2.1 million.

. . .

In northeast El Paso, a building near Railroad Road and Threadgill Avenue will serve as a logistics center and a testing and vaccination site as well. The budget is of a little more than $2 million for this northeast location. Pictures released by the city show construction has already started on the building to bring it up to par with the necessities for its functionality.

The testing sites are being built as a preventative measure in case partnerships for testing run out, according to Rodriguez.

Right. In case partnerships for testing run out. Just in case the other organizations offering locations for testing are as callow and selfish as the City, and decide to stop testing for the Coronavirus in the middle of the pandemic.

The fourth testing site is in west El Paso on Remcon Avenue near Mesa Street with a budget of $1.4 million. Pictures shared by the city show crews are also working to get the building in west El Paso refurbished.

The money to purchase the buildings comes from CARES Act funds. Rodriguez says they anticipate to have the buildings running by the end of December although he also says COVID-19 could put a delay on the delivering of materials or on workers.

I am a product of public schools and UTEP, but I make that out to be $13.1 million that the City of El Paso is spending on real estate. Feel free to check my math.

In a story in this week’s El Paso Inc., which, curiously, is not online, reporter David Crowder, in discussions with the City’s Director of Economic Development Jessica Herrera, tells us that the City received $19 million in federal CARES Act funds.

So, by my public school education, I calculate that the City of El Paso spent about two thirds of the federal CARES Act funds acquiring real estate, while 26% of small businesses in El Paso had already closed down and Mayor Margo fears more would close up for good.

Here’s part of the guidance from Treasury.gov:

The requirement that expenditures be incurred “due to” the public health emergency means that expenditures must be used for actions taken to respond to the public health emergency. These may include expenditures incurred to allow the State, territorial, local, or Tribal government to respond directly to the emergency, such as by addressing medical or public health needs, as well as expenditures incurred to respond to second-order effects of the emergency, such as by providing economic support to those suffering from employment or business interruptions due to COVID-19-related business closures.

The City spent $13.1 million on real estate. They could have given that money to struggling businesses. Why isn’t there any money for struggling businesses?

Have you ever been part of a mass community vaccination program?

I got vaccinated for polio in the sixties. I must have been 5 or 6.

We stood in line at the high school. I remember holding my mom’s hand as the line snaked through the breezeways to the high school cafeteria. I got a sugar cube in a little plastic cup, and the sugar cube melted on my tongue. We repeated the process two weeks later.

We don’t need freestanding, dedicated, testing and vaccination centers. We have facilities, like high schools, we can use for those purposes.

The purchase and construction of five dedicated testing and vaccination centers was a waste of money that small businesses desperately need.

Those small businesses fighting to stay open don’t hate your grandmother. They don’t hate the doctors and nurses struggling in an overburdened healthcare system. Those businesses fighting to stay open need the money. To pay the rent. To feed their families. To pay their employees.

And it’s not like these business contractions are a surprise. Here’s an El Paso Inc. article from 22 March 2020.

The coronavirus is forcing big changes in how El Pasoans work and run their businesses as the pandemic continues to pummel the economy.

Two surveys of El Paso businesses conducted last week show that the COVID-19 pandemic is “already a major business crisis” in the borderland, forcing workers and business owners to make painful choices.

“Businesses most affected are small and medium enterprises. It appears (based on early estimates) that the average losses are about $30,000 per business in the first week,” according to an informal survey the El Paso Chamber sent its members last week.

Mayor Margo has said that 26% of all small businesses in El Paso had already closed down during the pandemic and feared more would go out of business permanently.

Instead of closing businesses, and stemming the raging tide of deaths from COVID-19, while supporting businesses with grants the federal government offered for exactly that purpose, Mayor Margo decided to fight to keep the businesses open, because his “regime” squandered the CARES Act funds acquiring real estate.

He’s trying to cover up his incompetence by letting people die.

14 comments

  1. Spot on, as always, Rich! What the hell is it going to take to get these bastards to finally remember that they are supposed to be serving the public?! Business owners are crying out for help, and this is the response?! Phucke ’em all!

  2. Excellent reminder, Rich. I will post of course and remind people about the run-off election. I wonder who owned those buildings they bought, whether values were inflated, how much profit was made, and whether previous owners donated to Margo and the other council reps that rich developers ‘bought’ with campaign contributions. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

  3. Someone needs to volunteer to stand around in the hall at City Hall and scream every five minutes, “You’re public servants! Act like it!” As usual, the city is helping the big guys (want to bet the firms working on the new structures are all connected?) instead of the rest of us. And what are they going to do with the buildings after this passes? Keep them for the next crisis?

  4. Not just Margo? Who on Council voted for this disgusting project? (Even if it does involve renovating a Trost building, in the historic downtown…that should have been done some other way!)

    1. You’re right. Probably everyone on City Council signed off on this deal. But, God bless them, our City Council Representatives are not the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. City staff presented them with “vaccination and testing centers” for approval and they took the bait.

      But Mayor Margo led the charge to fight the County Judge’s shutdown order. Mayor Margo created an Economic Recovery Task Force. Mayor Margo is supposed to be leading City Government.

      No one at the City represents the citizens. No one at the City stands up for the taxpayers.

      Like I’ve said before, San Antonio has a Human Services Department. In El Paso, there’s nothing like that.

      1. Sorry did not mean to imply that Margo was not responsible! Looking forward to checking his latest donors info…and hope some intrepid reporter will dig up info about owners of these buildings and what firms are scooping up the restoration bucks…

  5. I’m surprised that the city didn’t find a way to fund the stadium it desparately wants by calling it a centralized vaccination center.

  6. Not surprised at all. El Paso’s “leaders” couldn’t find a building in each quadrant of the city? A proper but currently unoccupied one? Like a middle school, a store front in a strip mall? Anything? And, why did they NOT Think about RENTING instead of owning? Was there NO One on King Lear’s list of friends who could have donated a building? It would have been for the common good plus a tax write off. Eventually the vaccines will be produced and Covid will be gone, but El Paso will be stuck with these, I am sure, Overpriced pieces of real estate? And, knowing the City “leaders” (there is no font for Sarcasm), they will sell these buildings that will eventually go for penny’s on the dollar. Don’t be surprised if someone on Oklahoma Dee’s “leadership” team buys them. Lock, stock and barrel.

  7. Firing them all would require better people to run against them. The runoff in my city council district has someone stupider than the incumbent about to get elected.

    1. But we’re paying lots of City Staff well into six digits. Surely we could hire someone more competent than the staff we’ve got.

      I think the problem is that A’s hire A’s, and B’s hire C’s, and we’re way down into the alphabet now.

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