David Crowder commented:
"What I'm wondering is why you go on and on about the so-called "children of Shapleigh" aside from the fact that they formed a new wing of the Demo Party and got O'Rourke elected to Congress and a few others who are doing better than Cobos & Co., Luther's girls, the Homebuilder Gang etc. and put a ballpark downtown, put new wheels under city government and on the streets with a new Sun Metro system and Brio and helped the trolley along, arm-twisted developers into doing smart growth, which led to Monticillo, and when you think about it, even contributed to Shapleigh's Border Health Institute, now under the new Medical Center of the Americas. Think back to the prior council generations before 2005 and the new crop that came in with 2013 and tell me and us what they did better than the crop Shapleigh and Caballero spawned. I've gotten paid for years to watch 'em not to be their friend, but I do wonder where El Paso would be now and look like now and act like now were it not for that crew. So help us out here and 'splain yourself and then speculate why don't you on how things here would be better if none of them had ever been elected and what El Paso would be doing now instead. Hmmm? Just askin'"
First of all, Crowder has never been critical of anything any Shapleigh Camper has done. Everyone thought he would be the guy to rip open the scandal behind children's hospital, but it never happened. The El Paso Times is under control of the county judge and other Shapleigh Campers, so the story was never going to happen there. The hope was that Crowder would tackle it. That never happened because some factions are so powerful that no journalist will take them on. In fact, some factions are so powerful they can convince a journalist of their hand in things they either didn't do, or did do, but suffered from lapses in ethics.
Claim #1 - Shapleigh Campers formed a new wing of the democrat party and beat Congressman Reyes. WRONG. The first thing you have to know here is that Reyes' posse got way too big for their britches and pissed off everyone in the local party. Acting like tyrants with a large army to put down enemies took its toll on party members. Beto worked his ass off to get in front of voters. However, Reyes' people's action helped him tremendously. The local party is more of a Cesar Blanco fan club than it is a Shapleigh fan club.
Claim #2 - Shapleigh Campers put a ballpark down town. The truth - a couple of local billionaires made this happen when they spent a ton of their own money for the effort. Without them the whole thing does not exist.
The parts of the project you can try and give credit to Shapleigh for are all disputable.
Let's just shove the ugly kid into the middle of the room here. A Shapleigh sympathizer trying to help a Shapleigh candidate get elected put off selling the bonds at the right time and that cost El Paso taxpayers millions. Crowder doesn't seem to want to conjure the memory of the political insider back patting handshake wink wink bullshit when thinking about the Shapleigh Campers for some reason.
Of the two Shapleigh Campers on council at the time (Ortega, Byrd), only Byrd cast a vote for the stadium. Ortega was on his honeymoon. The main negotiators of the deal worked out to be Reps. Niland and Acosta. Many observers (paid or otherwise) saw that Acosta's negotiations and her vote were the deciding factors for the ballpark. Giving the Shapleigh Campers credit here is a stretch.
Claim #3 - Sun Metro, BRIO and the trolley. This is an interesting one since it was clear when City Manager Joyce Wilson hired certain "outsiders" to come run the city like it should be that Sun Metro blossomed. Internal sources and external sources took note of how one certain former deputy city manager turned that train (bus) around. Well, at least to the point it wasn't a complete shit show every day. I don't really see where the Shapleigh team did anything with that.
BRIO is a massive failure... so I don't know why that was brought up. Let's not confuse a neat idea for a successful effort.
The trolley may have been Ortega's baby, but Rep. Peter Svarzbein has been raising it now into it adolescence. Every Shapleigh Camper in town owns toilet pater with Svarbein's face on it, so it's hard to give them credit for the project as it is now. I will say that it's going to be a complete failure and it's a ridiculous waste of money. In the future, nobody will be taking credit for this turd.
Claim #4 - Smart Growth. HAHHAHAHAHAAHAHA! Whether or not you want to credit the Shapleigh Campers with Monitcillo or not is up to you. However, it is an absolute failure as a smart growth project and took out part of the mountain in order to achieve that failure. It's not walkable. It locked in to boulevard you can't cross. It's a mess. Those who understand how they gamed the city to get the sweetheart deal they got would not be touting this project on anyone's resume.
Byrd's grand vision of walkable communities and screwing over the homebuilders never came to fruition. Many local homebuilders adopted on their own smart growth principles and were then rejected by the city because they never accepted any of Byrd's recommendations. Quite literally it's illegal in El Paso to build smart growth. You have to get a special dispensation from the Planning Pope.
Again, I'm not sure if Crowder was just told by the Shapleigh Campers that this exists or if he didn't tract down how the story ended. Because they are still packing them in all over town just like they did 20 years ago. The only real progress is that the city is becoming better about letting your build smart growth if you want to.
Claim #5 - Shapleigh's Border Health Institute... which Crowder readily admits was absorbed in the Medical Center of the Americas. Let's be honest, Shapleigh's BHI failed. The local billionaires who have propped up the Medical Center of the Americas let Shapleigh say his nonexistent entity was taken on by them. Just like my daughter changed the tire on my truck because she was kind enough to hold the lug nuts. None of this exists without the philanthropy of the same two guys who behind anything that's successful in El Paso. (It's kind of slap in the face to them to keep giving the Shapleigh Campers so much credit for things these two guys did all on their own.)
Closely related to the Medical Center of Americas is the county hospital, the Texas Tech Medical school dealings and the children's hospital. If you know the truth about those - and I'm not sure we want to know the whole truth because it's ugly and someone would need to go to jail - you wouldn't be touting the Shapleigh Campers as successful anything. You'd be cursing their ability to always be there front center at the ribbon cutting, but nowhere to be found when the numbers they promised don't add up years down the road.
I don't mean to be mean to Crowder, but there are two sides to all of these stories. The side the Shapleigh Campers will tell you and the real story.
Did I mention that this downtown development plan is moving poor people out of walkable communities out to the county edges where not only is walkability not a choice, public utilities like water and sewer aren't available? Rich white people get a new playground while poor brown people lose access to downtown. Just remember the price of progress for some.