Economic Development for the Few

Some of those arena advocates act like it’s our patriotic duty to support downtown development.

“Economic development,” they say. “Fortune 500 companies.”

“When you boil it all down, it’s really about a focus on the quality of life,” the Wizard of Oz says. “[A] census in the 1950s . . . had El Paso with an income and education level higher than the state of Texas and higher than Austin and San Antonio.

“From that census in 1950 to the census in 2000, we kind of lost our competitiveness. Our income and education levels were significantly behind the state and particularly other large urban areas.”

And the only way back to the glorious days of the twentieth century is through downtown revitalization, the advocates tell us.

The elephant in the room (and it’s probably a white elephant) is wealth and income inequality. The benefits of downtown development accrue to those at the top of the food chain, and the costs are born disproportionately by the lower echelons. We are robbing the working class to benefit the people who least need the benefit.

The downtown property owners and real estate speculators make the money, and the taxpayers get the bills. We get “civic pride” and warm fuzzies. The people making the deals get schools named after them.

The boot lickers say it’s our patriotic duty to support downtown revitalization. They’re willing to pass the bills onto the working class taxpayers.

I’ve got an idea. Let’s pass the expense of revitalizing downtown onto the people who are for revitalizing downtown. Let’s start privately funded Downtown Revitalization Bonds. People who are invested in revitalizing downtown can put their own money into it, and the rest of us can watch. To be fair, I’ll promise to never stay in those downtown hotels. I’ll never get an office in those high-rise office towers. Whatever new amenities those privately funded bonds pay for, I promise I will never use.

Have we got a deal?


  1. Well, you sure got an ‘Amen!’ What so few of these greedy bastards have yet to grasp is the reality that downtown EP was already dying in the late 1960s! And, the only cities with living and breathing downtowns are the very large cities that have big businesses within their limits! A vital downtown has to have living space, shopping space, working space, parking space, and, yes, entertainment/diversion/dining/fun, plus transportation! We don’t have those things, and we’re not likely to grow them any time soon! Doesn’t simple economics tell us that without demand, there can be no meaningful supply? Stop bilking the hard working taxpaying citizens, and either pony up your own selves, or just frickin’ stop already!

  2. I don’t think anyone is against a vibrant DTEP. The issue all along has been who pays for it and who benefits? All those vacant buildings collecting pigeon crap do not do anyone any good and the City has been lax about holding owners accountable for maintaining their property. The current TIRF structure has resulted in re-development but at the expense of taxpayers generally and creates a trickle-up wealth transfer to investors.

    I don’t have a solution and feel willing to cooperate with those that do have one IF there is a business case for it. The AAA business case (I have the original CC presentation) presented by Ms. Fuzzy Math was a bait-and-switch and the 2012 QoL was for a stealth sports arena, as Wilson later admitted. The current I-10 deck proposal is just another stealth soccer field for Mountainstar.

    The City has some ‘fessing up to do to regain the trust of the voters since they chose to squander that trust in order to suck up to the Hunt-Foster-Axis-of-Taxes. Their latest attempt at “de-platforming” newly-elected officials over unpaid traffic fines (that the City Clerk failed to identify in time) and a bogus conflict of interest shows that it is still business as usual. When does it stop because just now the City is at war with the will of the taxpayers, as expressed in the recent election.

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