I’m kind of feeling sorry for the Borderplex Alliance. They’re having a hard time selling El Paso. Recently they took a victory lap when they landed a call center that might hire 450 El Pasoans someday. I mean, it’s better than a poke in the eye, but they’ve been trying to do better than call centers.
El Paso is a tough sell. Ask Bill Sanders and the crew of blue chip commercial real estate salesmen he brought in for the first round of development, when the global economy was melting.
Martin Paredes claims political blogger EPMaxPowers is actually Rick Armendariz, honcho of the Forma Group, a lobbyist for Alliance wheel Woody Hunt’s Hunt Companies. EPMaxPowers is kind of skeevy. The allegation reflects badly on all involved. EPMaxPowers unconvincingly attempts to refute the claim with nonsensical blather. It’s like a slow motion cat fight.
The Forma Group would rather not be looked at. They’re the off-stage conduit between PAC money and candidates in some byzantine scheme to disguise the puppetry. (See Page 11) The Forma Group is one of the few companies in town who run political campaigns. Now they’ve been caught out, and their reputation, which, as political operatives, was never sterling, is a little more sullied.
The ballpark stunt really backfired for the Hunts. Obama mobilized a disenfranchised electorate in 2008, and then Beto fanned the flames when he took on Silver in 2012. When Beto won, certain politically active El Paso democrats were incensed. But the ballpark pissed off even the common Joes. Taking on $100 million in frivolous debt (without the elections required by Texas Municipal Code Chapter 334) shook El Paso taxpayers. Without such blatant thuggery El Pasoans would probably still be sleeping through election cycles, and the machinations of the manipulators would still be hidden.
City Manager Joyce Wilson claims that the corruption that long plagued El Paso is gone, but really it’s just changed. It’s more sophisticated. It’s probably legal, or at least can’t be proved. If you ask me, skirting the law to build that ballpark was corrupt. Stacking City Council with lackeys to benefit private interests is corrupt. Hiring a Director of Economic Development from the Alliance is corrupt. Hiring a blogger to anonymously sell your agenda is corrupt.
I’m like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. This game is in the bag, because this game is rigged.
And it’s not like those richest one percent need any more money. It’s not like corrupting, or not corrupting, El Paso’s governmental processes will change their lifestyles an iota. But I guess it’s just the way you play the game if you’re in the business of building dynasties.
Maybe their agenda isn’t to develop downtown. Maybe their real agenda is to develop the rest of the region, and downtown doesn’t need to be functional, it just has to be pretty. Maybe our ruling class just wants to offer downtown El Paso as a lure, as someplace where people who live in the suburbs can visit occasionally, to relieve the boredom of their dreary suburban lives. Because the real money is in those sticks and stucco developments, in the acres of impersonal houses with two car garages that front the street.
And then it makes perfect sense to use public monies in a plausible but impractical plan to “develop downtown,” to achieve your real goal of suburban development. And I don’t feel quite as sorry for the Borderplex Alliance.