Have I ever mentioned that it feels like the City of El Paso, and the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, and MountainStar Sports Group have opened a class war against El Paso’s small businesses and the working class?
Of course, that’s not exactly true. El Paso’s small businesses and the working class are just collateral damage in those entities’ quest to squeeze more blood from the turnip. For the mucky ups of the City, the Chamber, and MountainStar Sports Group, a hundred, or a hundred and fifty, or two hundred dollars a month, what we all pay in property taxes, is just pocket change. That’s how much they tip their caddies after eighteen holes.
Wouldn’t you think that the Chamber of Commerce would oppose boondoggles that raise property taxes on El Paso’s small businesses? But the Chamber is not down with small businesses, the mom-and-pops that feed the larger economy. The Chamber’s only down with the country club crowd.
And the principals at MountainStar Sports only want one thing: More. That’s how they got so rich, and why they weaseled their way into El Paso’s last remaining extractive industry, local government.
Which brings me to the City of El Paso. The City of El Paso has insidiously been cutting services to the working class, to fund grandiose projects that don’t really serve the working class.
The City of El Paso claims 20 Community and Recreation Centers on its website. Of those 20, 12 are closed. The City also lists 15 Aquatic Centers on its website. Of those 15, 10 are closed. Two of the ten are closed for the fall and winter, and the rest are closed during Phase 1 of the COVID pandemic.
But the COVID pandemic is so last month. Last week, the City launched a new program Live Active El Paso. As part of that outreach, they posted this video of City Manager Tommy Gonzalez working out, without a mask, at Sun City Athletic Club.
It appears that the City of El Paso is outsourcing to private industry the activities that they used to host at the Rec Centers. That is, now you have to pay the private sector for the services that your tax dollars used to cover.
Swimming at a public pool? There are now four people to a lane at the Memorial Aquatic Center, one of the few remaining pools open. And that’s not free. When Tommy Gonzalez became City Manager, lap swimming cost $1.50. Now it costs $3. Even if she just wants to sit on the side and watch her nietos, abuela has to pay $3.
And street paving? There’s talk of letting the citizens undertake that task on their own, with their own money. Of course, the working class can’t afford to pave their own streets. So the working class has to choose between paying for a wheel alignment caused by all the potholes in the neighborhood or putting food on the table.
Public transportation? The City’s cutting back on bus routes, now after months of record car prices and with gas prices soaring. Do you think that the City cares how the working class gets to work? They made public transportation so dysfunctional that nobody relies on it, so they can justify eliminating it.
But the trolley still runs, mostly empty, at a cost to taxpayers of several hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, dollars a year. Why? Good question. Ask your City Rep.
The City of El Paso, and the Chamber of Commerce, and MountainStar Sports Group, don’t hate you. They never even think about you. What you need, and what you can afford, and what they can do for you is the farthest thing from their minds.