wolves_in_sheepsThe El Paso Times masquerading as a newspaper and political operatives have been on a crusade to safeguard the poor from predatory lenders. It all makes for perfect sound bites about politicians “protecting” those that need it the most. As with everything in El Paso look closely to who are the driving forces behind this and how they are connected to each other.

Before getting into the dynamics about yesterday’s city council adoption of an ordinance regulating payday lenders it is important that I clearly state where I stand on the matter. Regardless of the “feel-good” perception created to “protect” the poor and keep “predatory lenders” in check the fact is that an individual makes a decision to borrow money for whatever reason. That individual makes a conscious decision to borrow money. They go into the lender’s office and take the money. Unlike taxes, no one forces an individual to take out a loan.

Second and more important is that I believe government has no business trying to protect individuals from their own mistakes. A market exists because people use the service. If people did not use the service then the business would not exist. I realize that many of you completely disagree with me on this and it is understandable because we are getting into the realm of the function of government. I just wanted to make sure you understood where I stood in regards to this issue.

Now back to wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Put aside for a moment the argument of the government’s role in protecting a community and focus on who is the driving force behind this political grandstanding.

Let’s start with EPISO. EPISO’s modus-operandi has been to strong-arm politicians into supporting their public policy agenda of helping poor people. They do this by fielding voter blocks derived from their respective religious organizations in support of their agenda. In other words, they leverage an active and organized voter block in order to force politicians to support their agenda. For EPISO, payday lenders are just an inconsequential target for them that they can use and therefore it reinforces their standing in the community without hurting any sources of support or revenues for them. Payday lenders are the perfect scapegoat for illustrating the abuse on the poor.

I am not surprised to see EPISO in the mix and the fact is that their stated agenda makes payday lenders a viable target for them. However look closely at who was also pushing this legislation; Susie Byrd.

Why is Susie Byrd a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

I have written numerous times how the horde uses intimidation to silence dissention about their public policy agenda. One of the tools for intimidation is public humiliation and castigation. As the payday lender legislation was adopted yesterday those with access to the city now have another tool from which to go after agenda detractors.

Yes, I know some of you are thinking, another conspiracy theory coming from me. However, keep in mind that El Paso politicians aren’t exactly known for their integrity and adherence to the law. I realize the city attorney “promised” that the privacy of the records would be protected and that the process of auditing a lender will be based on a “complaint”.

I have previously shared with you examples of how carefully placed “complaints” are used as political tools. I also challenge you to believe that no one at the city has ever manipulated a process or ordinance for his or her own benefit.

Keeping that in mind, consider the following. A public agenda policy initiative is being challenged by a group of individuals. Accept that some of those individuals have partaken of a payday lender for whatever reason for argument’s sake. Before you think it can’t happen, consider who were the people that challenged the attempt to annihilate Segundo Barrio or the TIF Districts around Thomason Hospital.

As you think about those examples, remember who was at the center of those two events. That would be Susie Byrd on behalf of Ray Caballero. Now imagine for a moment that someone at the city received an “anonymous” complaint about a certain payday lender during those events. After the city completed the “audit” of the lender, certain personal information such as social security numbers, credit scores or loan amounts ended up in someone hands. Then that someone used that information to intimidate a protestor during city council discussion, well I believe you can see where this is going.

As beneficial as this city initiative may seem in reality it is nothing more than a power grab by certain individuals. As I always write, connect the dots between Susie Byrd and who might benefit from having access to personal information on those who dare to challenge the status quo and I believe you will see where I think this action is dangerous for the community as a whole.

The payday lender ordinance is nothing more than political expediency for certain politicians that played the court of public opinion perfectly for their own needs. Certain individuals now have another tool for intimidating into silence those that might challenge a future threat to Segundo Barrio or any other place in El Paso that stands in the way of “progress”.

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...

3 replies on “Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing Especially When Wrapped in Feel Good Mantra”

  1. I agree that people in need of funds make decision to find those funds through whatever legal means possible… and some of those people may not qualify through conventional means… and I also feel that some of these lenders utilize predatory tactics… and some of the requirements and stipulations, seemingly protective also are restrictive…

    But it seems like a stretch to say that this could be used as a political tool… I just can’t connect the dots there…

  2. I am for the Poor but fought this ordinance, the city regulating everything is worse.
    I like the Freedom to ride a motorcycle without a helmet…we all choose our Freedom decisions and pay any price for that. KTSM reports the city now wants to create red light districts for payday lenders…ive always thought one purpose of the payday lender ordinance was to put the 30 or so Downtown payday loan shops out of biz, same with the panhandling ordinance and city wanting to relocate all the LA Express Buses, its all a attempt to make Downtown sexy, swank etc people in Italian suits etc instead of the disabled old “ol Mexican Man in the Cowboy Hat” of the Glass Beach study.

  3. I agree with you that there is an agenda to declare Segundo a blighted area and bulldoze it and turn it over to the Usual Suspects, who see it as an impediment to their downtown plans, The irony is, Segundo is the only place in this city that has a life, a beat. Compare El Paso Street to the dead dullness of the malls. Really, the city should capitalize on that and encourage street food vendors and such.

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