As readers may remember, the city council – with newly elected city representatives taking their seats for the first time – voted to remove the controversial site of the proposed sports arena that targeted the Duranguito community. Max Grossman and members of the Paso del Sur group celebrated their long-fought victory in moving the proposed sports arena out of the vulnerable community in Segundo Barrio.

The underlining issue that drove voters to elect Brian Kennedy, Art Fierro and Chris Canales was the promise that they would vote to remove the proposed downtown sports arena from the targeted community. On January 3, they did exactly that. As soon as the vote was finished, proponents for keeping the sports arena in the Duranguito community launched a political campaign around creating a false narrative to sow doubt in the community about the action taken to save Duranguito.

It started with the timed release of money owed to the City by Art Fierro and Brian Kennedy to create the narrative that the vote was illegal. The model that the proponents for putting the sports arena in Duranguito are using is the time-tested scheme of creating an illusion that the vote and the actions taken are illegal, immoral or unethical.

The time-tested process follows the blueprint of one, timing the release of information so as to create a specific narrative. Second, the false narrative needs to have an illusion of wrongdoing to bring it to the attention of the community. Third, there must be a willing news outlet ready to push forth the false narrative to further the illusion that the vote taken to protect Duranguito and future votes are tainted by the illusion of wrongdoing. And, fourth, the narrative must be sustained by keeping it in the forefront of the community. Finally, the individuals behind the false narrative need willing accomplices in power and someone to be the figurehead of the scheme.

In the following paragraphs readers will be able to observe how the scheme to circumvent the will of the electorate is playing out today.

What is the specific narrative that is being created?

It is simply that any vote taken by the newly elected members of city council is illegal, immoral or unethical giving any action they take as wrong.

This serves the purpose to leaving the false impression in the community that their votes should be discarded or ignored.

Here is how it is playing out in the community today.

Timed Release of Information

The false narrative designed to taint the vote to protect the Duranguito community began with the fact that two city representatives owed the city money. This fact must be weighed against the timing of the release of the information and who made it public. As readers will see, it is the timing of the Ticketgate ticket scandal that started the false narrative.

Illusion of Wrongdoing

What is the underlining illusion that is being created? To force the proposed sports arena back to Duranguito a false narrative of illegality and, or wrongdoing needs to be created. Doing so taints any vote taken by those targeted by the false narrative being created.

It is not about whether wrongdoing has occurred but rather the illusion of it.

The best example of this dynamic is the issue of the tickets. It is a fact that the city charter does not allow anyone to take their city council seat if they owe the city money. It is also a fact that the only authority governing this issue is a vote by the other members of city council to censure their fellow members.

They’ve already said they will not.

But the taint of a faulty vote remains in the political narrative.

The important question readers should ask themselves is whether with all the bureaucracy at city hall, the controversy over Duranguito and the opposition research conducted by political operatives that no one knew until after a lengthy city council session that two city representatives had outstanding tickets that jeopardized their votes? How is that possible?

Understanding this reality is how the false narrative scheme begins to unravel.

El Paso Matters Plays The Willing Accomplice

To create false narratives those behind the illusion peddle their information to news media outlets in the hopes that a reporter will run with it. Each day reporters receive information to encourage them to write stories about issues. Many times the stories peddled to the reporters are “exclusives” or leaked documents or information encouraging them to be the first with the story.

All reporters get leads from members of the government, the community or from whistleblowers. But all the information that is given to reporter carries with it a bias, an agenda or both. All information given to any reporter is given to them because it serves a purpose. Whether to right a wrong, embarrass someone or drive a narrative, it is incumbent upon the news outlet to decide what the agenda is behind the “exclusive” piece of information.

When a news outlet does not run with the suggested story, those behind the false narrative go to bloggers to encourage them to report the news. With the forced shutting down of the Jaime Abeytia blog last year, El Paso no longer has a willing blogger to help create the false narrative.

The next step would have been to use social media to trend the false narrative. But those wishing to keep the Duranguito footprint as viable for the proposed downtown sports arena found a willing media outlet in El Paso: El Paso Matters.

El Paso Matters was the outlet to “break” the story that Art Fierro and Brian Kennedy may have taken their seats illegally, thus leaving the insinuation that any votes taken on January 3 were not valid. Without the El Paso Matters story on the day after the Duranguito vote was taken, the narrative that the vote was somehow tainted would never have taken off.

What El Paso Matters failed to report in their story is the simple fact that only city council has the authority to take action against Brian Kennedy or Art Fierro. Their lack of paying their tickets is a city council matter. City council members have no intention of censuring their fellow members and thus the fact that it was not included in the El Paso Matters’ report demonstrates why the online outlet’s report was to create a false narrative.

Readers should note that according to El Paso Matters, they received a response from the City about the ticket controversy late in the day they published their report. As we reported, the El Paso Matters reporter, Elida S. Perez asked for information about Art Fierro and not Brian Kennedy. Perez was following a carefully scripted narrative while seeking information from city officials.

Whether Perez knew that the ticket controversy would end there, at city hall or not is not known, but by leaving out that important detail, the false narrative that the Duranguito vote was somehow tainted was left in the community dialog. El Paso Matters followed with a second report including that crucial detail but only after the false narrative was created.

Why would El Paso Matters do this is the likely question. As we have reported previously, El Paso Matters is not owned by Bob Moore. It is owned by the El Paso Community Foundation. El Paso Matters is governed by a board appointed by the El Paso Community Foundation. It is the foundation that can keep Moore as the editor and publisher, and it is the board that can terminate Moore.

The El Paso Community Foundation has done this before when it shutdown Newspaper Tree when it got too close to reporting on an issue with how the city handled the Chihuahuas ballpark that was controversial at the time.

El Paso Matters has a vested interest in keeping the proposed downtown sports arena in the Duranguito neighborhood because it serves the needs of the largest funding sources for the El Paso Community Foundation.

Sustaining The Narrative

Creating the false illusion must be sustained or voters lose interest. This is especially true when the facts begin to come out, like the fact that nothing was going to come of Ticketgate because the city council is unlikely to censure fellow members. The interest of the community must be kept on the illusion. To do so more narratives need to be added to the controversy. These come in the form of ethics complaints being filed.

Filing ethics complaints makes for great headlines and news consumers like to read about controversies involving those in power. That is why arrests and mugshots make great clickbait to drive consumers to the news reports.

Usually omitted by the reports of ethics complaints being filed is that anyone can submit an ethics complaint making an allegation. The complaint is then accepted by the city attorney’s office and reviewed for several items. One is whether the complaint falls within the purview of the city. The other is whether the complaint alleged is properly articulated and the report is properly filed. It is the city attorney that either forwards the complaint to the ethics commission or rejects it.

At this point there is no finding of fact that an ethics violation has occurred.

However, the headline of another ethics complaint was filed, again makes for a great clickbait headline and furthers the illusion of wrongdoing. At least four ethics complaints have been filed recently, all targeting Art Fierro and Brian Kennedy.

But the ones the reader should focus on are the ones that further the narrative that benefits wanting to keep the downtown sports arena in the Duranguito neighborhood.

The ones filed by Dora Oaxaca.

Dora Oaxaca Is The Political Operative

Dora Oaxaca is the political operative hand delivering information to the news media and filing ethics complaints. Oaxaca is keeping the false narrative alive in the community. Oaxaca is married to Henry Rivera, who supports at city council putting the proposed downtown sports arena in the Duranguito neighborhood without regard to protecting the vulnerable residents still there.

Why is Oaxaca and Rivera working against Duranguito? Because both have an interest in running for new offices in the near future. Rivera has let it be known that he wants to run for county commissioner at the next opportunity. Oaxaca has said she wants her husband’s seat at city council. Both need political contributions to successfully run for office.

Likely sources of political campaign funds for both of their political ambitions are those who want the downtown sports arena in Duranguito because the other source of political campaign funds, J.P. Bryan is unlikely to fund their elections.

Someone needs to be the face of the false narrative and Dora Oaxaca has chosen to do so for her political ambitions. Her husband, Rivera, helps her by being the conduit to city officials and the innerworkings of the city.

Both benefit politically by feeding the false narrative.

The Two Ethics Complaints

Dora Oaxaca has filed two ethics complaints against Brian Kennedy, one on January 4 and the second on January 5. In her first filing, Oaxaca alleges that Kennedy should not have participated on the arena vote because of a conflict of interest with his previous client, the El Paso Sports Commission. Although Kennedy abstained on the vote on the advice given to him by the city attorney, Oaxaca alleges that Kennedy nonetheless committed an ethical violation.

In the second ethics complaint, Oaxaca alleges that Kennedy again committed an ethical violation because of his work as a “Marketing Consultant to the Sports Commission funded by public tax dollars.” In essence, Oaxaca is arguing that Kennedy cannot participate as a city representative because he provided consulting work to a publicly-funded entity. If this were true, anyone providing paid work to an entity, like the El Paso Children’s Hospital, would be prohibited from running for office.

Kennedy Responds

We asked Brian Kennedy about Oaxaca’s allegations.

In an email statement, Kennedy told us that the El Paso Sports Commission is a non-profit organization and not a governmental body. This is the same distinction El Paso Children’s Hospital has been making for several years when denying our open records requests asking for information. In 2021, the Texas Attorney General agreed that the children’s hospital, although funded with tax dollars, is not a public entity and thus not subject to the Texas Public Information Act like the University Medical Center of El Paso is.

Although Brian Kennedy’s last invoice to the sports commission was on September 15, 2022, the fact that it is not a public entity makes Oaxaca’s ethics complaints invalid to begin with. Nonetheless, Kennedy told us that he was not employed by the sports commission, but rather was a consultant for it.

Keep An Eye On What El Paso Matters Reports Next

To understand how the false narrative will continue to be pushed forth keep an eye on what El Paso Matters reports next about the ongoing ethical controversies. It will be apparent that the reporting is designed to further the illusion that the proposed sports arena must destroy Duranguito because anything else is tainted with ethical controversies.

Martin Paredes

Reporting on public corruption, border politics, immigration and public policy in El Paso since 2000.