El Paso politics never change. The El Paso politicos remain entrenched in the notion that they represent a growing and vibrant community able to compete with cities that the rest of the nation takes seriously. They remain oblivious to the reality that when people mention El Paso around the country, at most people in other cities think of it as a small dusty town on the U.S.-México border or Fort Bliss. Few, if any people, take El Paso seriously, except maybe the politicos and their surrogates living in fantasy land.

The El Paso politicos trip all over themselves about how El Paso can be any other city – but El Paso. The El Paso politicos travel to cities, like Albuquerque, hoping to create a duplicate of a working city out of El Paso. They even believe that Amazon would seriously consider El Paso as its next headquarters. But the reality is that the El Paso leadership is too provincial to be a city people would flock to rather than laugh at. I’m sure the Amazon leadership peed their underwear when they learned El Paso wanted to be in the run for their second corporate campus.

I’ve been gone almost seven years and in that time, nothing has changed. El Paso politicos bumble about increasing taxes, promising that tomorrow will be different if only the taxpayers invested more in the city. Gentrification, allegations of police officers being used to curtail free speech and silence critics dominates the news cycles today as they did back in 2000. Mexican-centric culture is still being eradicated for supposed progress. There’s even a raging battle between several historians with PhD’s battling a single person who is advocating for the destruction of a Mexican community to make way for downtown redevelopment by adding to the playgrounds for the rich. Only in El Paso, would city officials trod out joe blow to argue against PhD’s just to destroy a community. But that’s El Paso politics for you.

The El Paso political battle – more like the provincial and comical – race for the 16th Congressional district, between Veronica Escobar and Dori Fenenbock, is the latest installment in comedic bumbling politics. Nope, this time, it’s not Escobar or Fenenbock, but rather the two so-called political bloggers fighting like school children over a morsel of food dropped on the floor by their masters. Yup, that would-be Jaime Abeytia and David Karlsruher. Nothing has changed.

I’m sure most of you – El Paso political observers – know right-off the bat that Karlsruher is squarely in Fenenbock’s backside, sorry meant, side, while Abeytia is once again kissing Escobar’s ass, oops, defending Escobar against herself.

On one side, Karlsruher is arguing that Jaime Abeytia is carrying political backwater for Escobar, while Jaime Abeytia just fends off facts as inconvenient details that don’t matter. Both are arguing about whether an open records criminal investigation into former city council members means anything or not.

Here’s a clue, it doesn’t matter because it all comes down to Jaime Esparza getting off his fat ass to take a moment away from making sure his secretary is well fed, clothed and within easy access to him, for him to look at what the Texas Rangers brought him. Even then, Esparza has yet to meet a political crime he’d prosecute, much less actually win in court. This, in the county that had over 40 people recently prosecuted for serious public corruption right under Esparza’s nose. Note that the FBI, didn’t bother asking Jaime Esparza to prosecute any of the public corruption cases, instead preferring to go through the federal court system for a reason. That should tell you something.

But back to Abeytia and Karlsruher, like school girls arguing over a boy, they are fighting about whether Oscar Leeser is going to jump into the fray between Escobar and Fenenbock and what that means for their individual masters. Truth be told, they’re both just worried about the morsels their masters throw at them occasionally. Leeser jumping in might kill one morsel or two and they’re worried about that.

Now, there are some of you that might be tempted to argue that El Paso has come unto its own and it’s a growing vibrant city in the cusp of greatness. You might be tempted to argue I’m out of the loop and have no idea what I’m writing about. Ok, so some of you say that all the time about me. But here’s a little nugget to digest.

There was the unfortunate death, or murder – it is still undetermined as to what happened – of a Border Patrol agent in recent weeks. It happened near El Paso and the agent was from El Paso. Other than offer color and backstory about the agent and the locality, local El Paso news outlets are not on the forefront of this incident. Rather, El Paso news outlets are regurgitating details from national news outlets.

They are in the freaking epicenter of the incident and El Paso news outlets are doing nothing!

Talk about provincial mentality. But, like everything else, it trickles down from the top to the bottom. Where are the El Paso politicos on this issue? Is it too hot to handle? The border patrol union already opined. The Mexican haters are demanding the wall be built forthwith. And, the El Paso leadership? Scared stiff as if caught flagrante delicto with their chones around their ankles in the back of the local watering hole, or maybe behind the local Chico’s tacos stand.

I’m sure El Paso bloggers Jaime Abeytia and David Karlsruher are offering you masterful commentary about the local politics, or maybe the border patrol agent? Nope, they are fighting tit-for-tat online about who lied about what at the behest of their respective masters.

As you can see, nothing has changed in El Paso, not even the players.

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...

4 replies on “Provincial El Paso Politics”

  1. Many years ago I recall a young Army Lieutenant being interviewed as he watched the Viet Namese village being burned to the ground. The American forces were ordered to destroy the village and relocate the people to a better and safer place.

    Sound familiar ? The Lieutenant will always be remembered as stating on the news “we have to destroy the village in order to save it”. Sound familiar ?

    We have to destroy El Paso in order to save it ! Crank up the bull dozers now ! We have to save the city !

  2. So, Martin, what would you do? I agree with you 100% that our leadership both political and business is provincial. They don’t travel, network in their larger professional community, or seek alternative out-of-the-box examples to stimulate their thinking. I know, I worked with many of them. Where would you look to find new directions here? The C-o-C travels to Nashville and Oklahoma, but Israel could teach them more about how to thrive in a desert (same latitude as El Paso). Or the Green Festivals or Bioneers conference. Who here would even dare suggest something that radical? They still remember the chuckles around Richard Florida’s theory that we need more LBGT types downtown. But in a way, he was right because his definition of cultural creatives included gays, policy wonks, writers, artists, medial types, etc. It’s just that this mix doesn’t look like anyone we know in El Paso.

    The environmental initiatives that could put El Paso on the map (like sequestering development of the mountain slopes to the city limit) are met with hostility from the building community. Do we have a green C-o-C like Las Cruces? Do we have a natural building, natural food, local food sourcing and permaculture community? A little, but these are the kind of things that the Amazon HQ types look for in a community. Even something as innocuous as bike paths are derided here.

    Really, unless the idea comes from the official sources like Borderplex and Hunt it just doesn’t go anywhere. And I’ll give Hunt the credit at least for thinking ahead. His new think tank at UTEP is staffed with a vibrant young leader and has access to the best of UTEP’s scholars. Just now they are an info resource, but perhaps they will expand into being the urban think tank El Paso so badly needs as a source of non-provincial ideas.

    I disagree with you about DTEP being a playground for the rich. A tax playground, maybe, but there aren’t enough of the rich to keep a good bar in business. The more I study urbanism, the more it becomes obvious that two factors alone account for the majority of difference in the vibrancy of communities: 1) the percent of adults having a 4-year degree; 2) the level of civic engagement and voter turnout is a good (not the only) objective measure.

    UTEP could do a much better job of “infiltrating” local government as participants on boards and commissions, consulting and even activism. In my travels, I have frequently seen how a local university is a source of new knowledge and best practices for a community’s public sector. I have not seen Natalicio encourage this from UTEP faculty and it is the greatest potential underutilized resource in El Paso, IMHO.

  3. Hello Jerry, what would I do is the question. In a nutshell, I would allow El Paso to be El Paso. It is on the border and boasts one of the best Mexican restaurants in the world. This coming from a Mexican who has traveled Mexico and the world. Why do El Pasoans freak out over Sprouts and Wholefoods when El Paso local fare is so much better? I believe it has to do with an inherent fear in El Pasoans to be too Mexican. A vibrant community boasts an economy based on revenue streams imported into the community from outside, not from taxing the locals. Here in Orlando, taxes are levied on the outsiders and not the locals. I know, I know, but Orlando is a travel destination. Has anyone bothered to look at where El Paso sits? Hint, on the border with Mexico and on desert land that hikers and climbers would flock to. White Sands anyone? But forget tourist ville and look at the fact that El Paso is a stone throw’s away from the largest Foxconn manufacturing plant in the world and the country with the most free trade agreements in the world. But that’s not sexy talk and the politicos hate being too Mexican. As for Hunt, De La Vegas and et al, they get it but don’t want you to get it. Look who’s investing on borderlands, warehouses and trade related industries on the Mexican side and to a lesser extent the El Paso side? Yes, education is important but education is not the build it and they will come type of thing that will get people educated. Too many distractions and the mentality of not too much work. Additionally, the politicos love uneducated people. That’s how you sell them the idea that it’s ok to pay for a ballpark you have to pay twice to use, once through taxes and the second to enjoy a game. Or sell them on the idea that a children’s hospital can fail twice but its still a good economic model for the community. El Paso can be the city that Amazon would build on without a hesitation if only the anti-Mexican mentality would allow El Paso to be El Paso. Thanks for your comments! -martin

  4. “…boasts one of the best Mexican restaurants in the world.”
    Chicos 🙂

Comments are closed.