Watching El Paso politics for the last 14 years I sometimes feel like I’ve seen it all. And lo-and-behold a new politician steps up and leaves me dumbfounded once again. The latest political idiocy is Courtney Niland. I guess one requirement for El Paso politics is to forgo common decency in the quest to serve the elite of the city.

Courtney’s public indignation about being left out of the loop was nothing more than a theatrical performance in direct response to Steve Ortega’s very public repudiation by the electorate. I can accept public shenanigans and media manipulation to garner voter support but to publically attack an employee who had little, if nothing to do, with the current stadium debacle is beyond reprehensible.

Courtney should be ashamed of herself, but she won’t be because she is just another “useful idiot” in the growing stable of “useful idiots”.

If you pierce through the theatrics of the City Council meeting of May 28, 2013 you will see how the public show was nothing more than grandstanding for the voters. The three agenda items, 11, 12A and 12B exposed the duplicity of Courtney and her cohorts, Joyce Wilson, Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega.

But before we get to Courtney’s absurdity we need to look at the rest of the mischief that has transpired this week in order to better understand how multiple events and people are brought together to further manipulate the electorate. I realize this is long but focusing on only one event is what allows the mischief makers to proclaim innocence. Tying the events together connects the dots that eventually lead to a clearer picture of how the con is working.

But first, a quick look at Steve Ortega.

Steve Ortega sat through the whole episode dumbfounded with nothing much to say as he finally realized that his political career, like that of his hero Ray Caballero, has come to a screeching halt. His only contribution to the caper was a meek and surprisingly honest acceptance that the community has no trust in him and his ardent supporters at City Council. A dejected Steve Ortega admitted defeat as he stated that there “was erosion in the trust on the council”.

The stable of “useful idiots” is growing.

I have written before about how the city’s cabal uses “useful idiots” to hoodwink the electorate into submission. David Karlruher’s recent insistent blog posts that people just don’t understand the political process and that the city just didn’t manage the dissemination of the information properly demonstrates this. As soon as the electorate had spoken three things became David’s immediate focus; the first was proclaiming that he knew all along that Steve Ortega was toast; second, that the city screwed up the baseball field deal by not massaging the information properly and, third, defending his mom’s business connections.

David’s family business depends on the goodwill from the drivers of the downtown baseball field, Foster, Hunt, Sanders and the government. Without the business from these four benefactors a company that provides professional services in the technical and creative realms will not survive in El Paso. And this is exactly why the advertising, architects and engineering firms are tripping all over themselves to kiss the asses of the benefactors. Without their “business” they would not last long in El Paso. That is why they are accomplices to this manipulation charade.

The complicity of the media is front and center.

Understanding how the political schemers work to manipulate the community and the media in general is best shown by actual examples. The latest installment is the much touted New York Times article; “Baseball Stadium Bolsters El Paso’s Resurgence”, by Matt Hudgins.

Buying “good-will” coverage masked as newspaper articles is a time-honored public perception manipulation activity. That is the reason public relations firms exist. As soon as the article hit the streets on May 28, 2013, the cabal’s second tier useful idiots such as the El Paso Times and KVIA were touting how the “reinvention” of El Paso is progressing.

I have asserted for many years, along with others, that the media is either purchased or outright manipulated but, of course, the retort was always “prove it”. Before I get to the “proof” let’s take a closer look at the article itself. The article focused on the downtown baseball field, although it liberally placed ancillary things in order to bolster the positives of something surrounded in negativity. It makes reference to November’s election by stating that the citizens voted to spend $473 million in bond issues for the city’s revitalization. Then it makes a point to state that the arena itself was not part of the original public vote, no doubt to create the perception that the community was behind it by its “three to one” vote.

Of course, Joyce Wilson and William Sanders are directly quoted while Woody Hunt and Paul Foster are mentioned. The article makes reference to the controversy surrounding the stadium but in such a way that leaves the casual reader with the impression that the community is solidly behind the endeavor, which is not the truth.

But that doesn’t stop the local media and, up-and-coming “useful idiot” Patricia Martinez of KISS-FM, coincidently soon to be wife of Darren Hunt of KVIA, from pointing to it in smug satisfaction of how the electorate is too stupid to figure it out. Not to be left behind, Steve Ortega is touting the article as further proof of how he was right all along.

Unfortunately for them we can now show that the article was nothing more than a paid-for advertisement to use for public relations. Not directly paid for to the New York Times, but indirectly influenced to publish the fluff piece at the appropriate time.

On April 28, 2013, the El Paso Inc. published an article titled; “More than billboards: $326K to sell El Paso” by Robert Gray. Right off the bat the article starts out; “Andy Levine has made his living for decades making one simple pitch. For a relatively modest fee, he can get a city, region, state and even a country positive news coverage in national publications like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times”. Gray adds that Levine has been working for almost a year “pitching positive stories to national outlets” about El Paso.

It just can’t get clearer than that.

Joyce Wilson is buying good publicity for the city in order to continue to hoodwink the community. The cost so far is $326,000. And you wonder why your taxes are so high!

Although the New York Times article is the latest volley in this war for the community’s public perception others have come and gone as well recently. Remember the Wall Street Journal’s feel good piece; “El Paso Steps Up to Plate” on April 16, 2013. KVIA “reports” the good news the following day while The El Paso Times follows on April 18. Saturation of the target market is part of the game.

The dots are starting to connect on how public perception manipulation works.

Of course there are those that will continue to question whether the cabal actually manipulated these “feel-good” news articles. It just leaves too bitter of a taste in everyone’s mouth to accept that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are manipulated into being cheerleaders for the city’s manipulating horde.

On May 29, 2013, journalist Debbie Nathan posted on Facebook that she had spoken to the New York Times author; Matt Hudgins who confirmed that a New York based public relations company approached the New York Times to do an article about El Paso. Levine’s public relations firm is located in New York. But Levine is not done yet. In the El Paso Inc. article Levine is quoted as stating that part of the campaign “will be a ‘digital ambassadors’ program” promoting El Paso through social media.

Keep this in mind when you read the blogs of Patricia Martinez and David K Karlruher. More importantly, keep this in mind when Steve Ortega, Courtney Niland, Susie Byrd or Joyce Wilson points to the next “feel-good” article in the national media.

None of this is a coincidence as it is all manipulation intended to further empty the taxpayer’s wallets.

And now we get to the crux of this week’s installment of the “arena-is-too-good to pass up” public perception manipulation; Courtney Niland.

Now let’s take a look at Niland’s target of her faux indignation, Alan Shubert. Everyone admitted that he had nothing to do with the original budget and yet he was castigated publically for bringing the request to add more money to the budget.

The three City Council agendas were related to the ballpark but in reality only one was an actual item for the ballpark. Item 11; an “Introduction and Public Hearing – Financial Services” was the mechanism needed to actually fund the stadium construction. The other two items, 12A and 12B were nothing more than an attempt to play a time honored political game with the public’s money of moving money from one pot to another.

This is important to note because when the dust settled the monies to build the arena were allocated while the public focused on the rhetoric.

Notice how item 12A, which is nothing more than an adjustment of the official budget for building the arena, increases the ability to spend more money on the arena? This item was to give Joyce Wilson a larger public checkbook from where she could manipulate how the building money is spent. Look out how the resolution calls for not only increasing the budget but also gives Joyce Wilson the ability to “make any necessary budget transfers” and “establish funding sources” to make the money available. It was designed to allow her to manipulate the budget with the tacit “wink, wink” from City Council and the mechanism to proclaim innocence should law enforcement decide to question the expenditures. Likewise, item 12B allows an increase of the budget to the design services of the baseball field. This would allow them to add the design of the “amenities” that were the center of the public discussion.

Notice how both of the items under 12 were linked to Alan Shubert? This gave Niland the opportunity to target him while creating the smoke-and-mirrors show needed to recover some measure of credibility with the community and keep the project on track. Had there been no public outcry then Joyce Wilson would have a larger public checkbook and the City Council would have had another layer of “but you approved it” for their rhetoric. When the public outcry came about, the items gave the cabal an outlet for the public outcry and an opportunity to bolster Courtney Niland’s persona for her future usefulness to them.

All this was just a chess move in the chess game that is El Paso with the cabal moving the pieces while the taxpayer’s attempt to defend with pawns.

It is important to note that Niland focused her “anger” on Shubert while feigning but protecting the true culprit Joyce Wilson. She did this because Shubert is the lowest man on the totem-pole and thus expandable. She simply could not bring herself to convincingly chastise Joyce Wilson so she had to focus on Shubert.

Let’s take a closer look at what transpired. Through all of Niland’s vitriol the following facts emerged for those paying attention.

There is no budget for the ballpark. There is only an estimate based on a haphazard count of the number of seats they want and the square footage available. The design is still on the drawing board. Only 20% of the bids have come in. Engineering wasn’t involved during the initial rush to get the arena voted on by City Hall. And more importantly, Alan Shubert was appointed to oversee the project for the city after the initial $50 million was publically shared with the community. He has no blame on whether the city will meet the budget or not because he wasn’t involved when it was first created.

The almost two hour session during City Council is further demonstration of the continued public manipulation. Although on the surface it seems chaotic the reality is that this was a well-orchestrated theatrical performance designed to appease the masses. And, unfortunately it worked.

I know it is hard to believe but City Council’s performance created a strategically placed scape-goat in Alan Shubert and a masked mea-culpa from Courtney Niland, although it may not look like so, on the surface. Shubert is now the public whipping boy for everything that happens from now on in relation to the baseball field. He has been placed as the sacrificial lamb to further insulate Joyce Wilson, the front-person and final insulator to Paul Foster, Woody Hunt and Bill Sanders.

Niland’s mea culpa was designed to pacify and cover-up the outrage expressed by the electorate in Steve Ortega’s trouncing at the polls. Ortega’s silence and acknowledgment that the community has lost trust demonstrates that Ortega is slowly coming to the realization that he was just another “useful idiot” for the city’s cabal.

It is more than likely that Ortega will lose the upcoming run-off election for the mayor’s office. And this is where Courtney Niland fits in. She has been put in place to fill the void left by Ortega. Whether he pulls off a miracle or not, Courtney is being groomed as the next contender to the mayoral throne. Her mock outrage filled the news media giving her the “I’m on your side” face the electorate is looking for. Watch carefully how her words both embraced the anger of the electorate while equally positioning her to proclaim she championed the downtown arena, if and when the time comes. Her performance lets her play both sides depending on how this fiasco ultimately plays out.

The cabal is positioning their “useful idiots” on the chessboard that is El Paso.

A few Conquistadores peek through the fog

On a side note but worthy of mention is Mayor Cook’s latest outgoing political shenanigans. Besides trying to placate an angry constituency, not only has he decided to throw City Manager Joyce Wilson to the public wolves by not allowing her review to go on as she requested but he is also bestowing a dubious award to some equally dubious characters. The Conquistador Award became a badge of dishonor the moment felon Larry Medina proclaimed to have been awarded the most Conquistador Awards. Joining the ranks of Conquistador recipients on May 28 are none other than Paul Foster and Woody Hunt. Lame-duck Mayor, John Cook awarded the award to Foster and Hunt among eight other individuals during the meeting.

I guess “Conquistador” is the proper name for an award bestowed on two individuals leading the charge to conquer the heritage of El Paso by destroying it in order to create a new El Paso.

Is it too late to get El Paso out of this fiasco?

Actually it is not.

The most important thing to understand is that the last election was a wakeup call for the proponents of the baseball stadium. Contrary to the general belief that the hole where City Hall used to stand makes the arena a forgone conclusion the fact is that it does not.

The cabal clearly understand this and this is why the full-court public perception manipulation.

Although some taxpayer money has been expended in the design of the stadium and bond money has been authorized there is still time to put a stop to this debacle. The bond money can be used to replace City Hall. Keep in mind that through all of the rhetoric there will be a time where money will have to be spent to build a new city hall. Right now the taxpayers are paying for temporary quarters for City Hall. Eventually the city taxpayers will have to pay to build a permanent location.

Why not use the money already allocated to begin to rebuild the destruction? Yes, money has already been spent and no doubt the team owners will sue but reconciliation now is better than a boondoggle that will cost the taxpayers for generations to come.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...