Those Poor Guys at the Borderplex Alliance

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.


  1. A lucid and concise appraisal of the shameful activities of business as usual in El Paso city government. Very disappointing to see the continuation of what has been the case for far too long in this town…developers own El Paso. The jaw dropping and blatant corruption and the fact it continues unabated makes me believe this poor city will never be anything but, second class…if that. It’s a shame…a real shame.

  2. First up, I enjoy your blog. I’m hope I run into you at the Kentucky Club someday; I’ll buy you a beer. And although I am glad the ballpark is being built and I don’t have a problem with the process (I elect my representatives to represent me), I’m a bit too lazy to try to put up an argument on most of this post.

    But … “Hiring a blogger to anonymously sell your agenda is corrupt.” I can’t let that slide. Please, please, please don’t tell me you believe the load of crap Martin Paredes sells over on his blog. Please, man. Come on.

    During the four months I spent blogging, Martin wrote several long screeds against me accusing me of being paid by “the horde.” This despite the fact I wrote more about chigger bites in Kansas than local politics. It’s the height of insanity to think any of us pitiful bloggers are getting paid by anyone. No one is going to pay for the 100 views a day we get.

    I don’t know if MaxPowers is Rick, but I know he is not getting paid to blog by any fucking body. Come on, man.

    1. I’m pretty sure Max isn’t Rick. I know Rick. But I’m, pretty sure I know who Max is, and if I’m right, he’s a paid political operative.

      1. Huh? Now I can’t keep it straight. In the blog post, you parrot’s Martin’s claim that Max is Rick, and you say Max’s denials of this fact are “nonsensical blather.” But now you are saying you don’t think Max is Rick? Then why the b.s. in your blog post?

        And, really, if you believe any blogger in El Paso is being paid to blog … go take a long walk, breath some fresh air … you’ve been reading internet conspiracy theories for too long.

        Or is it also true I was a “paid political operative” like Martin often claimed?

        I’m really just trying to save you from yourself here. I don’t want you losing all credibility. Joining Martin’s crusade that “powerful hidden forces” are controlling the blogosphere does not help your cause. It’s silly.

        1. You’re forcing my hand, making me out somebody I probably wouldn’t have outted without your insistence.
          I think it’s someone else who works for Forma.
          I wish Martin would tell us, exactly, what he found out from Max’s website host. It would probably clear things up.

        2. Regarding paid bloggers: I know that some bloggers are paid not to blog, to squash certain posts. And I know that some bloggers are (or were) promised future employment to slant their opinions. How could you not know that?

          1. Strange. Ask any current or former blogger — me, you, Martin, David K. — and they will swear they have never been paid to blog. Hell, no one has even ever offered. Because that would be silly.

            But there are always these “other bloggers” who get paid to blog, or not, as the case may be.

            Of course, I was also called one of those “other bloggers” who was getting paid big bucks to blog. It must have all gone to my middleman.

          2. Well, you know what you know, and I know what I know, and never the twain shall meet.

  3. The only elections applicable to a venue project like our baseball stadium and to a municipality of our size in a county of our size that are explicitly required by Texas Municipal Code Chapter 334 are those specified in Sec. 334.0241, which regards using ad valorem taxes to fund the venue project. The city held such an election to use hotel occupancy taxes (as specified in the section) and the measure passed overwhelmingly. No other election is required by the code. If there were, don’t you think a lawsuit would have been filed about that by now?

    1. I think you better check your reading comprehension there, Anson. A lawsuit was filed, and the City claimed that because the HOT rate increase passed, the citizens approved the ballpark, even though the City Manager explicitly stated that El Pasoans weren’t voting on the ballpark before the election, only the financing.

      You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.

      1. It seems the ballpark opponents want it both ways, as well. I read several full-page ads from them in the El Paso Times telling everybody a vote against the HOT was a vote against the hated ballpark. Once they lost that vote overwhelmingly, they dropped that line and just wailed, “It was never a vote against the ballpark!”

        1. Who ever said it was never against the ballpark? That’s what the City said. I think you’re just making stuff up now.

          1. Huh? So you now agree that vote was against the ballpark? Well, it passed overwhelmingly, so … I’m lost.

            Sad to see you join the Martin “evil forces are conspiring against El Pasoans” routine, though.

  4. Obviously I should have abided by the maxim ‘Don’t feed the trolls.’

    Every vote against the HOT increase was against the ballpark. Not every vote for the HOT increase was an approval for the ballpark. A lot of people who voted for the increase felt like they had a gun pointed at the head, because the City said that they were building it anyway.

    Are you willfully obtuse, Jay?

  5. Wow, I’m a troll now? Sorry. I didn’t think I said anything too bad. Asked a few questions trying to figure out what you meant. Now that I know you really do think El Paso bloggers are paid, and that you really do want it both ways on the HOT vote … I think I’m done.

    Sorry for bothering you. It won’t happen again.

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