If you look at the Census Bureau estimates for El Paso’s population, the inflection point was 2012. It didn’t turn negative till 2017, but in 2012, our growth rate slowed dramatically till finally, in 2017, it went into the red.

I’m okay with no, or limited, growth. We’re in the desert and the whole west is running out of water. Growth for growth’s sake is a fool’s goal.

The problem for me is that the wrong people are leaving town. We’re losing the visionaries, and the risk takers, and the interesting people. We’re stuck with consumerists. And sheep. People who aren’t put off by arrogance. People who know their place, and are content to carve out their little niche in someone else’s world.

People are voting with their feet. There are a couple (a few) reasons that people are leaving El Paso, but I think that the City’s arrogance is no small reason.

Look at the ballpark. It shows up on the agenda on a Thursday, and by Tuesday we’re on the road to demolishing City Hall and putting a ballpark in its place.

Despite the protestations of a significant portion of the population.

The El Paso Times called the protestors Crazies.

City Government just turned its back on anyone who didn’t agree with them.

Some of the “Crazies” filed Open Records Requests for the emails that dealt with city business from private email accounts, and the City stonewalled them. The City wasn’t even willing to play by their own rules.

They were arrogant.

The City has issued more than a half a billion dollars in Certificates of Obligation. Certificates of Obligations represent debt that is issued without voter approval.


A former mayor once told me that if I didn’t like the way things were being done here, I should leave.


The City continues to push for top-down gentrification, pursuing an economic development model that has produced no positive results, and increased the tax burden on El Paso property owners. But the bureaucrats and entrenched politicians have shown no remorse or inclination to change course.

Pig-headed arrogance.

The City added fees to our water bills, just as just another revenue source.

And now the credit card scandal.

City Council Representatives letting their spouses fill up their tanks on the taxpayers’ dime?

Arrogance. They thought they could get away with it. And they would have. They had gotten away with it.

The best people don’t like arrogance. Arrogance is often a substitute for ability. Narcissists are arrogant because arrogance brooks no challenge, no difference of opinion.

Both of our two previous City Managers were blessed with an abundance of arrogance. El Pasoans have suffered and continue to suffer from their arrogant decision making.

Let’s hope our next City Manager shows more humility.


  1. Rich – this is among the most insightful posts of yours that I’ve ever read. And that’s saying a lot, considering how insightful you normally are. You describe the situation in El Paso perfectly, in ways I’ve never been able to articulate.

    I grew up in El Paso, moved away for college, and moved back right after college. Almost 20 years ago now. So did a handful of my high school friends. Armed with college degrees, we wanted to move back home and use our talents to help improve the city. We assumed that a bit of vision, appetite for risk, and fresh perspective would be welcomed.

    But what I found (and I believe my friends as well) was exactly what you described. Local institutions and companies were being run by people who would never be in those positions in larger cities. Their intelligence was barely above average, they were atrocious at managing people, and they spent more time gossiping and going to unnecessary meetings than actually working. Yet they had egos larger than any of the competent professionals I’ve met while going to school and working out of town. They had lucked into the handful of good jobs in El Paso, and because El Paso is generally short on highly-educated people, they faced little pressure to improve or competition from others. And because they weren’t smart enough to see how lucky they were, they assumed it was all due to their own superiority. Hence the massive egos.

    Perhaps on some level, they did realize how good they had it, because they were deeply resistant to innovation and even to logical thinking. Anything that had the potential to change the status quo or make them look bad was dismissed immediately. And most of the local institutions are led by people who are in their positions due to some combination of nepotism (not just family – the good ol’ boy network counts as well) and inertia. Outside of perhaps the universities, there is not a culture of meritocracy and innovation that will humble or weed out the arrogant and allow the visionaries and risk takers to thrive.

    So I ended up leaving after a couple of years and settling in a larger city. So did most of my friends. When I think about it, it saddens me greatly. El Paso is a place with so much potential. A truly unique American city. A place where two vastly different countries meet and form a culture unlike anywhere else in the world.

    Yet as you so wonderfully articulate, the only people who can thrive in our current culture are the mediocre, arrogant elite and the consumerist sheep who are too distracted by their new Mustangs, lip injections, and dinners at PF Chang’s to care what’s happening. A few interesting, intelligent people such as yourself seem to be making sure El Paso maintains a pulse. I congratulate you for it and hope you keep fighting the good fight. When I lived in El Paso, I was often reminded of the old quote “if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” As in, stay in El Paso and slowly be molded into the arrogant ways of the city’s elite, or get out of town.

  2. “The El Paso Times called the protestors Crazies.”

    I remember that and Wilson used the same term in one of her emails that FOIA surfaced, her opinion of us. Bob Moore of The Times was the de facto PIO for the Bordeplex. Now he runs El Paso Matters that is, effectively, funded by the same people. So, same-old-same-old and the Usual Suspects seek to control the official narrative, though I note that EPM does have some decent young reporters on staff.

    This is why the local blogs like El Chuqueno are important and my old friend, Martin Paredes, with his El Paso News is open to contrarian opinions as long as they are polite. He has printed mine recently. El Paso Inc, is the voice of the power elite but will also entertain contrary views as they did during the stadium controversy with Larry Francis opposing it.

    The press is only really free if you own one.

  3. Rich, as Aesop said, “We hang the Petty thieves but elect the great ones to office.” Not sure how Gassandra’s supporters keep on electing her….Time for a change.

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