Let’s Pretend

Let’s pretend all our local “progressive” politicians and their benefactors are pure of heart. Let’s pretend that their motives are noble. That their selfish interim paychecks are subsidiary to their altruistic long-term goals. That they really want a “vibrant downtown,” and a “prosperous city,” and an influx of new businesses that will flip the ratio of property taxes paid by homeowners versus businesses.

Then they’re doing it wrong.

I’m not saying that there’s no benefit to all those shiny baubles they’re foisting on us. Entertainment options are important for a thriving community. (Baseball. Yipee.) Except El Paso’s not exactly a thriving community.

And thinking that an arena, or a ballpark, creates industry is like thinking that flies create shit. Let me suggest that the shit comes first.

Let me suggest the heresy that entertainment options are a result, and not a cause. If you could jumpstart an economy with an arena, or a ballpark, then every city in America would have one, or two.

Let me suggest that ballparks and arenas and boutique hotels aren’t even the way to a vibrant downtown. Vibrant downtowns are the result of thriving communities, and not vice versa. You can’t graft a new branch onto a dying tree and expect the tree to revive. You have to water the tree. Fertilize. And the manure we’ve been getting lacks nourishment.

I understand that our political class aren’t the brightest bulbs, but somewhere, in that smoke-filled backroom, there must be someone with critical thinking skills.

Someone who understands value. Someone that understands that, to win, you have to distinguish yourself from the competition and not mimic them. Someone who knows that Unique Sales Position and Value Proposition are more than answers on the test.

(Let me tell you a problem we have here in El Paso. The Lieutenants of Industry think their kids should inherit their influence, and then their kids aren’t smart enough to hire someone to give them good advice. They have to wait till it comes out on El Chuqueño.)

If you’re playing catch up, you never catch up. You have to take the shortcut.

And I suspect that our “leaders” don’t have a map.


  1. As for hiring someone to give good advice, the problem is that this town has – for way too long – gone outside to hire that advice, and that means the quality of the advice is questionable, to say the least. How the hell can you expect someone from California, or Kansas, or wherever, to know and relate to El Paso style situations?! Maybe they need to be reminded that the direction to “Build it, and they will come” did not apply to business, or economy, or growth, or anything of that nature. It meant simply that they players would show up to play the game! We are now so deep into this quagmire now, though, that they can no longer see their way out. Hey! CC & CCC! Listen up! Just. Stop!

  2. I hear you but in my opinion it’s more of a chicken-and-egg problem. How can our city attract business and entrepreneurs to make us “thriving” when our downtown is a national level embarrassment? I’ll admit that’s less true now than it was five or ten years ago, but downtown still isn’t going to impress many people who didn’t see what it was like a few years back.

    Will new hotels and sports venues make El Paso the next San Francisco? No way – at least not in the lifetime of anyone alive today. Will they help us compete better with the Albuquerques and Tucsons of the world? If things go well, I think that’s a reasonable goal to have.

    1. Do you think that ballparks and arenas are the best investments we could make? Because besides the hard costs, there are also opportunity costs with those investments. That $180 million the City wants to spend on the arena is $180 million we won’t be able to spend anywhere else. On bike paths, for instance. Or art programs. Or education. Or free Wi-Fi, or library computers, or healthcare.

      The taxpayers are tapped out. I know small businessmen for whom the tax bill every January is another month’s rent.

      And forget competing with Albuquerque and Tucson. Albuquerque is in pretty much the same boat El Paso is. They say Intel is considering pulling up stakes in Albuquerque. Albuquerque’s population has grown less than five percent from 2010 to 2015, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Factfinder. Tucson has grown by an even smaller percentage.

      You’d think El Paso’s elected officials, and the people who pull their strings, would be aware of all that. But maybe they just don’t care.

      1. I completely agree with you here actually. I’d much rather see that money invested in arts programs, bike paths, public transit, and historic preservation. An arena is certainly not the best way to spend $180 million dollars, but given the choice between an arena and doing nothing, I’d pick the arena. But I completely understand if you disagree – I’m barely even convinced about it myself.

        And maybe I was aiming too low with Albuquerque and Tucson. San Antonio might be better a better target to strive for, even if we’re still a long ways off from being at their level.

  3. You’re all missing the point. El Paso is not a vibrant community because of its populous. How many El Pasoans are dependent on welfare of some kind? How many lack education and basic language skills? Our city is what it is because of who lives here. Creating good jobs is hard when there are no people to fill those jobs. Where is the answer as to how we can change that? Bike paths, baseball, call centers, and new school buildings are not the answer.

  4. I’m not native to El Paso, yet here I have decided to stay for the past 6 years. What I see is a many MANY fold problem:

    1) City leaders are not in tune with what EP REALLY needs, which is industry creating decent paying jobs.

    2) Wanting to destroy the history of EP rather than preserve and capitalize on it.

    3) The seeming indifference to the decisions being made by the city leadership. No, bitching about it and then doing nothing is not EVER going to effect real change.

    4) The educational system here seems severely lacking. Why do a lot of kids drop out of school? Lack of interest because they’re not being challenged.

    What can WE do? What should WE do? We need civic leaders here that are interested AND involved in the goings on of EP. How can we bring industry here, without the “input” of consulting firms from outside of EP that have zero to little clue about how this border town functions? How can we best preserve the history of EP and use it to the benefit of the city? How can we stop being so indifferent about city council deciding the future of EP and lining their pockets while doing it? How can we demand and effect change in our educational system?

    City council and other elected officials won’t do it. It’s up to us…

    1. Imma argue with you in a follow-up post. I’m also going to agree with you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *