El Barrio Park: Attack of the Bureaucrats

Here’s a letter that Cruz Morales posted on Facebook:

RE: Cease and Desist – EL BARRIO PARK

Mr. Morales

This correspondence is to notify that you and El Barrio Sports Club are in violation of of the El Paso Municipal Code Chapter 13.24.030 City Parks and Recreation Authority to grant permits, licenses, leases, concessions or contracts — Permitee responsibilities, hereafter “City Code.”

You and any member of or representative of El Barrio Sports Club are instructed to immediately cease and desist from planning, holding and participating in permit-less and illegal activities at all City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Centers, including but not limited to (El Barrio Park). Failing to obtain a permit for use of the park for special events, tournament/sporting events, or failure to abide by permit requirements is a violation of City Code. The use of a park for special event or sporting events without a permit or participating in illegal activity is in violation of the City of El Paso’s right to ensure unreasonable interference with the rights of the the general public to the enjoyment of the park. Should you fail to cease illegal activity or use of the park without permits, the City of El Paso may elect to file a civil and/or criminal action against you.

Further, on September 17, 2021 you were issued a Notice of Suspension for six (6) months for violation of the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department’s Behavior Management Policy for participating in illegal activity which includes solicitation of another to participate in illegal activity which includes, but is not limited to theft, vandalism or gambling in or about City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Facilities. Some of the illegal activities you have engaged in include having a sports tournament on September 11, and 12, 2021 without a proper permit and alcoholic beverage consumption at a sporting event. Several attempts to contact you were made the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation staff informing you of the need to obtain proper permits for El Barrio Sports Club prior to the sporting event and you failed to apply for and obtain a park permit. On September 21, 2021, you were again informed by Parks and recreation department staff that you need to apply for permits to allow tournament events at city parks, and the El Paso Police Department was notified of the violation, however, you have continued to hold events at El Barrio Park.

Information regarding the opportunity to appeal was provided in the Notice of Suspension, and to date, the Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Program Manager has not received written appeal on you behalf.

We understand the importance of recreational activities for children and families in the El Paso Community. In failing to obtain the proper permits, you as well as El Barrio Sports Club are in violation of El Paso Municipal Code Chapter 13.24.030. These violation interfere with the use and safe enjoyment of the El Barrio Park by City of El Paso residents and community members. All El Paso residents and organizations are expected to follow the proper park ordinances, rules, and policies.

Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact Parks and Recreation Deparment for the City of El Paso, Texas.


Ben Fyffe

Managing Director, Cultural Affairs and Recreation

(I typed it from a .jpg so I might have made some mistakes, but not a lot of mistakes.)

Mr. Morales is the organizer behind El Barrio Sports Club.

Please note that neither Mr. Morales nor the El Barrio Sports Club are being accused of ” theft, vandalism or gambling in or about City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Facilities.” Mr. Fyffe apparently just included that in the letter to justify his position. The City is mad because the El Barrio Sports Club had a little basketball tournament without a permit, and they may have enjoyed a couple of cold ones after the games.

Are you kidding me?

El Barrio Park is about the size of four bedroom house on the west side. It’s not even big enough for a full-size basketball court. The park is located two blocks south of the canal in the Chamizal neighborhood, at the corner of Raynor and Findley. Cruz Morales lives a couple blocks away. He takes care of the park like it was his own.

And now the Parks and Recreation Department is complaining?

“We’ve been doing things at the park for eighteen years, and we’ve never had any problems till this year. Now the city is asking for permits, all of a sudden,” Mr. Morales told me over the phone.

“We’ve had volleyball tournaments and basketball tournaments. Thanksgiving food giveaways, toy giveaways for Christmas. People have been doing events at the park since the seventies and eighties, and I took over those projects about eighteen years ago. And we’ve never had a problem with the city before.”

Parks and Recreation Director Ben Fyffe should be thanking Mr. Morales instead of dunning him for permit fees. Mr. Fyffe should be down at the park pushing a broom on his days off like Mr. Morales is.

According to GovSalaries.com, Mr. Fyffe makes $165,000 a year. I reckon he wouldn’t miss a meal if he dipped into his own pocket to pay for Mr. Morales’ permits.

Mr. Morales has done more for his neighborhood than the entire Parks and Recreation Department has ever done. Ever.

Remember when government was a service and not a business?

Mr. Morales also told me that when the Parks and Rec people showed up at Barrio Park, they brought a police escort.

“Why? Do they think that we’re animals?” Mr. Morales asked.

Remember, part of the City’s Strategic Plan (6.6) is to “Identify Potential New Revenue Streams”. That’s what you are to the City. A potential new revenue stream.

I’m sure that what Mr. Morales wants from the City is just what most of the rest of El Pasoans want: To be left alone, and not have our taxes raised every year.

That, and maybe they could fix the streets.


  1. Mr. Fyffe doesn’t understand what El Barrio Sports Club has done for many young persons living around or in the vicinity of the park. I’m a retired Air Force Master Sergeant (E-7) that got his humbled begins in that park. The activities (i.e. tournaments, Thanksgiving food donations, Christmas toys giveaways) help not only that neighborhood, but the surrounding hoods. El Barrio tournaments help deter young people from going into the bad element. These gatherings are not only for sports, but the younger generation gets advice from people that have “been there, done that” as the saying goes.
    Mr. Fyffe might only see El Barrio as a nuisance for what he perceives in his world, but El Barrio is rich in culture and has military veterans with their roots started in El Barrio.
    Let El Barrio have their activities for the community. Mr. Cruz, an Air Force veteran himself, has done one hell of a job organizing events.

    Jesus Romero Jr.

    1. I think Cruz Morales posted about 9 months ago that he was interested in running for elected office. Can this be retaliation? An even worse motive.

  2. So damn typical of our City. Elected officials don’t do a thing for their electorate, and the City rids roughshod over common folk. Gotta revitalize downtown, and build things nobody uses for the elite few, but help out a neighborhood? Oh, no. Can’t do that. Despicable behavior by yet another over paid member of the in crowd.

  3. Ben Fyffe is a garden variety beaurocrat. I liken him to the Pharisees in the bible, they are always swinging at the gnats and swallowing the camels. He doesn’t get El Paso and what really makes us special. People like Mr. Morales are the strong fabric of our city, not the Fosters, Margos or the Hunts who are constantly attempting to mold our city into their image. Maybe if BF would pull his head out of their a – – – s and come up for oxygen occasionally, he would see El Paso for what it really is.

  4. Fyffe’s job is not to do things for the folks who pay the taxes to support the money he gets, it is to make his boss Tracey Jerome happy so he keeps socking those bucks away

  5. It’s so disgusting to read about a $165-thousand a year City Bureaucrat picking on a small community group organizing sporting events on a small lot on the poor side of town. Our City should be working with El Barrio Sports Club instead of trying to shut ’em down.

  6. I realize that at 5 yrs I’m a newcomer. But I feel strongly that we have to stop preaching to the choir/complaining to each other. Things are effed. We all agree. What are we going to do? My dream is a newsletter financed by ads. Jud Burgess and I talked about this one day. It would be so milar to the Scene – a free paper w all these issues discussed. Surely if there is the will, there is a way. In my observations here – this is still very much a paper town and is still the best way to reach more people. I totally support the new PAC and think it’s a great idea, but it feels more like the long game ca what can we do now.

  7. Remember when Ben Fyffe fell asleep drunk (allegedly) in his car at the drive thru at the Mesa/University St. Whataburger and getting a very public DUI? It doesn’t matter because there were no consequences anyway.
    So it goes.

  8. This guy started as a docent and now commands a $165,000 Salary? The average person in El Paso makes around $24,000, and El Paso is ranked as one of the poorest cities in the country. I don’t understand how Barney Fife can justify his salary. All of the fat cats at the top of this bloated bureaucracy make out like bandits while the average Jose can barely scrape by. Unfortunately, this POS went to my alma mater, Cathedral High, although I went there many moons before Barney Fife. When I went to La Cate, they didn’t teach “Boot Licking 101” nor “Ass Kissing 201.” That, and not get a DWI on April 11, 2014. The answer to Mr. Morales dilemma is to go knocking on doors to: Register the residents of this neighborhood to vote. AND, make sure they VOTE. They probably are discouraged, but one of the Segundo Barrio’s inhabitants votes = 1 Fat Cat attorney living in Sunset Heights. Sure, the Fat Cat can donate $$$, but it will come down to the Power of the Vote. It CAN be done. It just has to take a lot of shoe leather, knocking on doors and most of all, GANAS!

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