The ROI of Campaign Donations

Deciphering what’s happening at City Hall is like trying to see the truth through a cracked crystal.


The Department of Community and Human Development spent 18 months looking into creating affordable housing for residents with an annual income less than $30,000.

According to the department, an increase in affordable housing will spur growth throughout the entire city and create a pathway for outside development to begin in El Paso.

Tommy Gonzalez, city manager of El Paso, says densely populated growth is necessary despite some council members not liking the idea.

“A lot has been said about the streetcar in downtown. Issue with that is, you don’t have a lot of density in downtown and uptown. It doesn’t make any common sense to think there will be a lot of ridership there needs to be higher level of density,” said Gonzalez.

Wait. Is that what he really said?

I watched the video, and that quote in the written story needs some punctuation, at least, but let’s not quibble. Mr. Gonzalez definitely seems to be saying that we need more density, via affordable housing, to justify the streetcar.

We all know that the reason the streetcar isn’t popular is because it takes longer and comes more sporadically than the buses. We all know that the streetcar isn’t popular because the streetcar doesn’t go anywhere that people want to go.

Unless, maybe, you got drunk in downtown Juarez and need a ride to your home in Kern.

But I digress.

Why would the City want to build affordable housing in downtown? To justify the streetcar?

Couldn’t we just mothball the streetcar, and break it out for Christmas, and Chalk the Block, and the film festival? Couldn’t we make it special?

Who benefits from the City’s building binge?

Certainly not the taxpayers.

Obviously, the only beneficiaries are the contractors. The City is taking our tax dollars and giving them to builders.

The builders get a good return on their campaign donations. They drop a couple of grand on some candidates’ elections, and get millions back.

City Council is selling you out for pennies on the dollar.


  1. Did we not try to point out some of these glaringly obvious facts BEFORE they started that stupid project? As for people living downtown, whether their housing is affordable or expensive, they still have no super markets, or other retail businesses to provide the necessities of daily living! Why the hell would anyone want to live there? And, even if thousands of people lived there, what would they gain by having that ridiculous trolley going up and down the hill? Lotsa jobs along that route? More retail? I don’t think so.

    1. Mata’s. Silva’s. The Ruidoso Market. If you can’t find a supermarket downtown, you’re not hungry.

      1. One can live on tacos of every persuasion and cheap beer for so long. Silvas has bitchin discada mix and fresh corn tortillas. But thats it. Honey nut cheerios are 7 bucks

        1. Silva’s charges like a dollar more per pound for Muenster cheese than Mata’s. I asked Maggie how they could do that. She explained that Silva’s lives off WIC, and the WIC program will pay for units of orange juice and milk and cheese, and WIC doesn’t care what they cost, unlike the Lone Star card, which gives you a certain dollar amount to spend every month.

          Silva’s used to have the lowest price for Modelo Especial, and they used to sell six-packs of bottled pulque. Those were the days.

          Mr. Silva used to take to the paper and tell our politicians “You can’t spend your way to prosperity.” I think I used that line a couple of times.

          Mr. Silva lived on Crazy Cat, and the HOA got mad at him because he painted his house green and yellow. The HOA said his house was supposed to be painted in desert colors. He responded by asking them if they’d ever seen a prickly pear in bloom.

          I haven’t been to Silva’s for a while. I owe them a visit. I won’t buy the Honey Nut Cheerios.

  2. In terms of city planning, it is obvious that a city needs density to support mass transit, streetcars included. That is just basic sense. Why it didn’t make sense to council, past and present I don’t know. I thought maybe they have planned to push development in the streetcar corridor. Community/Human Development is planning to put low income people in a downtown high rise, last I heard. I agree with previous comments – that part does not make sense to me unless it will benefit a developer who has upgraded an old historic building, which in the example I saw did just that. In addition to the basic no groceries, it doesn’t build a sense of community for people to live in a high rise. Once in a while you’ve got to leave the high rise and enjoy the outdoors and one’s fellow human beings, not to mention wildlife.

    If they want to build rapid transit why have they, the state legislature with the support of the city, passed the Municipal Management District in far North East – 7,000 acres, potentially a development like Montecillo. Montecillo is part of the density plan to support mass transit/Brio along Mesa. But bottom line, people are not getting out of their cars. They prefer their being in their super-size cars, racing in and out of traffic and muscling/intimidating other drivers and pedestrians, causing accidents which then hold up traffic. We are chasing our tails folks, and I do mean like rats in a cage.

      1. People have been saying that the price is gas in a factor for decades. The only thing that changed in the 1970s was a shortage of gas when people had no choice. The majority of people will keep paying more regardless of price. They will sacrifice everything for their cars and their speed.

          1. In the 70’s due to the gas shortage, people began buying smaller and more fuel-efficient cars. Those days are over. Now we have bigger fuel-efficient cars. In the 70’s “small is beautiful was a “thing.” That’s over. Greed and
            me-ism” has changed since the 70’s. It’s gotten worse. A lot have things have changed. A lot of things have gotten worse.

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