(This post was edited on April 8, 2017 at 12:30ET [10:30EP to correct an error I made in regards to Alexsandra Annello, please read below for more information ) Some of you have let me know that you are upset with my lack of coverage of last Saturday’s El Paso municipal elections. The reason I spent very little time on the election is that nothing has changed. The election was a referendum on the proposed arena and the displacement of the Duranguito neighborhood. Some of you are continuing a valiant fight to contain that damage, but, unfortunately, you are up against a controlled electorate managed by vested interests. Those interests need the arena to stay in business. They won on Saturday.

As I have written various times before, the issue is that the electorate, those that cast votes in the municipal elections aren’t voting for better government, instead they are voting for paychecks. Not all, but most of those who cast a vote in the latest round of elections are ensuring that their paychecks keep coming from the taxpayers of the community.

There are those of you who still do not believe that, so let me give you some more examples from this last election.

Clear proof that this election is a referendum on the arena is demonstrated by the loss of Lily Limon to Henry Rivera. There are those that will argue that the ongoing Texas Rangers investigation into Limon and others regarding the alleged violation of the open records meetings laws was a factor. Although, it was to some extent, as well as the previous issues between Limon and Niland, but Limon was a staunch supporter of the Duranguito faction and she needed to be gone. Rivera, a government employee, is in full support of completing the arena as quickly as possible in downtown.

I would argue that he was drafted to unseat Limon to bolster the city council votes in favor of building the arena downtown.

But this is not an El Paso only issue. It plays out across the country every election day. Voters are not voting for good governance but instead for paychecks, i.e. those candidates that promise taxpayer-funded projects that line the pockets of the land speculators, the engineering firms, the architects and all those who depend on public projects to stay in business.

Although not as acute as in El Paso, where most large projects are government funded, other cities are facing the same issue. Take, for example, San Antonio, they also had a municipal election this week. According to the San Antonio Express (mySA), the 52 candidates running for mayor and city council positions “received about a third of their $1.55 million” in campaign donations from land developers.

San Antonio voters also approved the largest public bond in its history by approving $850 million for infrastructure and urban renewal. Unlike in the El Paso election, many of the incumbents, 10 out of 4, were reelected. Voter turnout was about 12% in San Antonio. El Paso’s turnout was 8.33%.

What brought my attention to San Antonio was a call from a reporter at the San Antonio Express trying to confirm some details about the Poisoned Pawns investigation in El Paso a few years ago into public corruption. Of the many politicians and companies involved in the public corruption investigation, one has made the news again recently.

On April 26, the FBI raided the offices of Dannenbaum Engineering across Texas. According to news sources, the FBI raids were regarding an ongoing public corruption investigation in Laredo. Dannenbaum was mentioned in the Ketner information where Dannenbaum was listed with a pseudonym allegedly giving Anthony Cobos bribes disguised as campaign donations. As you might remember, Arturo Duran was described as the “bagman” providing Valley Risk Consulting and Dannenbaum access to politicians in El Paso for future county contracts. Dannenbaum was not charged in the El Paso case, but Cobos was convicted on public corruption charges.

Dee Margo and David Saucedo are in a runoff for mayor of El Paso. Margo is pro the arena in downtown, while Saucedo has stated that he does not support the displacement of the Duranguito neighborhood. Emma Acosta, as usual, vacillated on the arena and thus for the proponents of the arena, Margo could be counted on and thus they supported him. Although the Duranguito conservation group is banking on Saucedo, the runoff will come down to who can mobilize their voters, the people with money against those who want better government. Unfortunately, money always wins.

The Northeast district, as usual, almost elected Sam Morgan who is against the destruction of the Duranguito neighborhood. For my thesis of who is casting votes, it makes perfect sense when you consider that most the Northeast voters are retired fiscally conservative voters with no major commercial interests driving their votes. Shane Haggerty, who is in the runoff against Morgan supports the proposed location of the arena.

District 2 is the interesting race. First, let me address the issue of the vested voters who voted for their paycheck. Jud Burgess ran on a platform centrally focused on opposition to the displacement of the Duranguito community. Burgess was unable to muster the voters, barely squeaking out a third place by six votes. Clearly, although there is a loud opposition to the arena project location, it did not translate to votes. It never does – thus nothing has changed.

Jim Tolbert, the incumbent and Alexsandra Annello are in a runoff for their respective office. Tolbert has been playing games with the arena project, vacillating on where it should go. Tolbert, however, has also shown a propensity for corruption. Tolbert is currently under investigation for violating the open meetings laws and previously insinuated that he wanted a free steak to consider the needs of a local steakhouse.

(Corrected on April 8 2017 at 12:30ET to remove reference to working for O’Rourke) Alexsandra Annello, for her part, seems like a wildcard, but make no mistake, she will vote for the arena project as needed. She fully supports the arena but did not articulate that because she only needed to spend her campaign pointing out Tolbert’s ethical dilemmas to win. Annello also wrapped her campaign around the issue of transparency but it is nothing more than one of the tools in the arsenal used by Veronica Escobar cohorts in elections. (Note: I inadvertently confused Annello with another candidate and originally wrote that she previously worked for Beto O’Rourke. To be clear, Alexsandra Annello has never worked for Beto O’Rourke. Annello contacted me to clarify the record and to let me know that she has “been very outspoken about the Durangito/Union Plaza site from the beginning of this campaign“. I have left my original analysis about her lukewarm support for the Duranguito community because her webpage does not emphasize her opposition to the destruction of that neighborhood to build the proposed arena. I have asked Annello to submit a guest editorial should she wish to clarify her stance further.)

I have previously demonstrated to you how Byrd, Escobar, O’Rourke and cohorts used the Shapleigh Community Scholars as an incubator to prepare like-minded candidates for future political office. Think Vince Perez and cohort Jose Landeros to see how it works. Annello was likely incubated to run for office. She will vote to build the arena on the backs of the taxpayers.

All of this this leads us to the modus operandi of finalizing the arena project for the benefit of those who voted the politicians into office. In tomorrow’s post I’ll show you how the modus operandi has been deployed again.

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...

13 replies on “The May 2017 Election – Nothing Changed”

  1. Martin
    One thing will change El Paso will get a Republican as the head of the city, This should be a wake up call for the progressive Democrats in El Paso you better change your tax and spend to prosperity ideology or be voted out of office. Just maybe El Paso is starting to wake up. Oh before others get started with city elected officials are not elected by party ,Margo and Saucedo are known Republicans.
    Also it was interesting to see Ms. La Raza Lily Limon handed her hat. Yes Martin things are changing in El Paso just maybe for the better.
    Just for laughs we do not live in Texas any more but got got a mailer from Emma Acosta to vote for her for Mayor. Nope this was not forwarded mail it was posted directly to our current address. Couldn’t vote for Acosta where we did live in El Paso County. Does not take a super Genius to edit out zip codes on a data base so you are not wasting your money sending out mailers to people who can’t vote for you. More El Paso Stupid ,El Paso Proud!

    1. Dee will be an effective administrator but remember that he is one of the main drivers of the Hunt Foster agenda and historically has accepted their money in his political role. In El Paso Republican (disclosure – i am a registered Republican) means corporatism, not capitslism, and those guys are its biggest beneficiaries.

      1. YEP, there is no difference in a Republican or a Democrat in El Paso. Both are progressives. Only difference is that Dee will spend money to benefit his donors(Repubs Foster and Hunt and all the other real estate and developers on his campaign finance report). A Democratic in El Paso is even a bigger whore. They will push for any type of spending as long it helps their donors whether they are Dem or Repub. Lie, cheat, or steal, the ends justifies the means for the the Dems in El Paso.

  2. Count, I agree with your assessment except saying Dee is a progressive. Everyone knows progressive is the new term for socialism, which was originally communism.

  3. Some personal observations from my point of view as a candidate for District 2 rep. —

    To say that my platform was primarily focused on Duranguito is completely off-base.

    I had a variety of vocal and public stances (my website, blogposts, TV appearances, debates & forums, FaceBook page, billboards, signage and print materials) aside from the Duranguito angle, which in fact was only a small side issue related to my main message which was KILL THE ARENA, BUILD THE LATINO CULTURAL CENTER.

    I was the singular candidate who advocated for our over-burdened taxpayers AND El Paso’s 80% Latino population at the same time.

    All the candidates said the same things: we need to pave our streets, pay less taxes, put the arena here or there, we need more transparency and open government, etc. (you can thank the El Paso Times for breaking the walking quorum story and me for having the cojones to file ethics complaints against the mayor, half of city council AND the city attorney.)

    As I have been saying all along, the arena will be the FLASHPOINT issue of the new incoming administration and mayor.

    The threatened lawsuits and the City’s seeking a court validation for the arena are indications that this issue is far from over.

    My proposal to kill the arena (legal maneuvers in progress that ultimately attempt to do this) and give the voters a revote with better options like using half ($90 mil) to build a world-class Latino Cultural Center and use the other $90 mil for paving projects does what no one else did…provide a realistic solution to real problems we have in El Paso.

    Problem 1 – The arena’s price tag is going to be substantially more than the $180 mil quoted because of several other factors not being addressed by city leaders. This will become a major millstone around El Paso’s already over-taxed and underpaid residents.

    Problem 2 – Streets aren’t going to pave themselves. The City will have to issue more debt to pay for meeting these infrastructure needs unless they can pull the money from somewhere else…paying Peter without robbing Paul. The City is already in the red with the annual budget.

    Problem 3 – El Paso’s Latino population has always been given the crumbs. We need something we can derive pride from (Latino Cultural Center), we need neglected Latino areas of town to come alive again and get some funding from the city (LCC built in the Lincoln Park area), we need leaders who understand the unique border culture, population and geography and how these factors affect virtually every issue ion our city (both mayoral candidates likely voted Trump, one doesn’t know a lick of Spanish despite having lived here several decades, both have made major faux paux verbally and by associations that disparage our Latino population, etc.)

    While I only garnered 446 votes, those were fairly pure votes based on my messaging which addresses the above problems. Interestingly enough I had many non-Latinos who agreed with my stances and supported my candidacy. I had very little capital (by choice) and did not seek any endorsements because I felt that both contributions and endorsements are just a debt that will eventually come due to the the givers.

    It was more important to me to get my message heard than to win the seat, which I always assumed would be difficult given the fact I was drawing outside the political “success” lines.

    Tolbert and Annello both stayed within the lines with safe messaging and both have people behind the scenes that have definite expectations in view of their provided support.

    Tolbert has all the downtown investors, special interests and wealthy property owners that contributed heavily to his war chest fully expecting him to jump when they say jump, and he will oblige with a grin on his face and an open wallet.

    Annello from what I’m hearing and I tend to believe, to a large extent owes the Byrd, Shapleigh, Escobar political flock her allegiance. When she wins the runoff, we shall see if she has the political will to make her own decisions of just be another 2016 Tolbert doing what he’s told by that little Byrd whispering in his ear.

    1. We don’t need a cultural center because we already have a real and great one – Segundo Barrio. All it needs us the same kind of treatment given to Union Square and encouragement of more restaurants and street vendors. My vote is for a Pink Store margarita wagon:)

      1. Byrd, Escobar, Ortega, O’Rourke etal. already tried to gentrify El Segundo by attempting to relocate a good portion of it’s residents a few hundred yards over so they could create the kind of ”cool” environment you’re talking about Jerry. They thought it was a “cultural center” they could enhance without any respect to the culture. They even wanted to demolish Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which was at the turn of the century as well as today, a church for immigrants coming and going between our nations. Martín Paredes calls this the “de-Mexicanization” of El Paso. A very real thing. The Latino Cultural Center I am talking about is not a neighborhood and it’s people but a world-class architectually significant building set within the Lincoln Park area which houses several entities that would represent the culture, heritage, art, etc. It would also house non-profits that reach out to the community, a library to serve the people south of the freeway, and a lot more. It can be a lot of things.

  4. Jud Burgess
    The de-Mexicanization of El Paso is total non-sense this is about the progressive elitist in El Paso wanting to push out the lower Socioeconomic classes out of the city of El Paso and now they are doing it in the county. Basically if you are not pulling down 50K a year these Elitist fascist progressive Democrats want you out of the City of El Paso and now the County. This stated back in the mid 1990’s. If de-Mexicanization of El Paso is taking place it being done by mostly Hispanic or those with Mexican heritage against follow Hispanics. Then of course it’s always whitey’s fault this is happening with some people!

    1. Thomas, I never said it was “whitey’s” fault. In fact to your point, I mentioned that a couple of Latinos – Escobar and Ortega – were involved in the effort to re-engineer El Segundo into a more Starbucks-friendly environment palatable to tourists and locals who want the ambiance of a gritty cultural neighborhood without the neighborhood.

      Despite Latinos being 80% of the local population and next door to Mexico, we have always gotten short shrift in El Paso.

      Why else would city leaders set aside only a paltry $5 mil for the Hispanic Cultural Center and glom it onto the Abraham Chavez Theatre while essentially “fooling” the public into accepting a $180 mil “arena” (at absolute minimum cost) which accomplishes nothing but the illusion of a DWNTWN that is in the process of revitalizing? And then to add insult to injury, El Paso’s overly strapped tax-payers take the bullet for the wealthy investors who continue to get corporate welfare at our expense?

      1. An HCC is just a way to package and control the narrative certain parties want to promote. It’s like Beijing opening a China Town.

  5. Jud Burgess
    Here is the problem you’ve been short shrift by other Hispanics or at least those who ware their Hispanic heritage on their sleeves. Then again we get the issue with some to what is is Hispanic and Mexican enough to b be part of the 80% of El Paso. Would just like some one to qualify what is Hispanic or Mexican enough to be part of the 80%? Skin tone, ones name connection, speech inflection or accent, Etc.?
    As to the Hispanic Cultural Center that was the classic bait and switch in El Paso. Personal I think it should be called the Jaime Esparza legacy center for the culturally stupid.

  6. The District 3 race is shaping out to be somewhat interesting. You have on one hand a criminal record in Cassandra Hernandez Brown (according to Jaime Barceleau whose wife is the district clerk.) I do see the opportunity here that Hernandez has over Barceleau-very obvious. If this is true about her criminal record, then I suspect Hernandez will win the race. Who would ever believe she would be telling the truth with a record? She is worth her weight in gold for ultimate blame. Her duties as the District 3 representative will cleanse the sins of many a corrupt soul in city government and business. I am not a supporter of either, I believe either Mr. Williams or Mr. Pellicano would have done a much more transparent bang up job for the city, however they came out too early in favor of Cohen Stadium. Joyce Wilson would not allow that so her protegee in Hernandez is and will be the District 3 representative. Mayor is interesting also. I do think Saucedo is telling the truth about City of El Paso corruption (Claudia Ordaz and Jim Tolbert-and we thought Romero was bad?) but Saucedo will not win due to the money machine rolling forward with its own plans for the fleecing of this city. What a shitty and pathetic lot of undesirable scum as our rough beast, its hour come round at last Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? I voted for Mr. Burgess myself. He would have done a great job…

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