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August 26, 2011


I too wonder about a downtown arena...it may be something were not, I see report that most view downtown as dirty etc and its true to compare our downtown to San Antone or Austin is a joke. Whats needed for us is a more practical socialist approach to downtown, one that does not cater to the fat cats etc but we the people and costs little eg public drinking fountains and toilets, closing some streets and making them public walkways, this is just a low cost start but is very basic and needed and simple socialist, we cannot be Austin or yuppies etc but we can be us and us is we the people, the tired, the homeless, the thirsty. We dont need Glass Beach studies we need toilets and open spaces, not little sidewalks crammed with widgets down the Golden Horseshoe.

its a fairly complex issue re profits and nonprofits and cities and counties, basicly a county can not do indirectly what it can't do directly...it does differ from tax abatements etc eg Texas may have a code like this: "The Legislature shall not authorize any county, city, borough, township or incorporated [**9] district to become a stockholder in any company, association or corporation, [*657] or to obtain or appropriate money for, or to loan its credit to, any corporation, association, institution or individual." ie it may be in essence the county is indirectly "loaning its credit" or even stronger argument "indirectly appropriating money for" to a for profit.

That sounds pretty much like how Fannie and Freddie operate. :)

Thanks David K for there points:

* "They were planning on getting the $8 million in HOT each year for the next century, or at least for the next four or five years. This would mean they could depend on roughly $40 million in cash over that span of time. That lowers what the city and county have to split to around $80 million and that's well within the certificate of obligation range. Now they might have to put some of they money up to a vote in a "quality of life bond issue."

* "when that same local government is about to hand over $123 million to a group of people with no face, no location and no plan for a new arena?"

* "Each year when groups like Project Arriba want just a few hundred thousand dollars from the respective local governments, they produce presentations that feature reports on progress, budgets and an outlook for the upcoming fiscal year."

David K, thanks for putting this downtown arena scheme into such clear, blunt terms. Good work!

David at the first of the year I asked just for a small park for my rural El Paso community and was told NO because they have no money for an projects.Then again I guess if you are lining your election pot you take care of those ,what were they called fat cats. Let the rural county citizens eat cake.

David K, you point out only 1 commissioner was pushing this, i.e. "County Judge Escobar was the only one lobbied on the deal and she was unable to convince her colleagues to help out the Paso Del Norte Group."

Wonder why the Times does not question this one person connection?

David K, have you ever thought about writing a Sunday guest column for the Times? If you did, do you think they would publish it? Or do they just hate you too much because of your disagreement with one reporter?

Since you have made so many good points on this downtown arena, it would be a good article for taxpayers to read and consider.

"to obtain or appropriate money for..."

I think fannie and fredie facts are a little differant....I beleive they were once public then qausa privatized

the above is from FL State Constitution...iam not sure if TX constitution has equal...but i know case law says counties cannot do indirectly what they can't do directly...also ive seen cases that says once a corporation gets too in bed with gov then they can be subject to tx open records act, also if found to be acting 'in concert' with gov they can be subject to 42 usc 1983 etc

I don't support a new arena for downtown.... but Brain Kennedy is still a giant jerkwad with a perfectly legal and binding contract who flaunts the coliseum as his personal plaything.

Well said Dot!

The one thing that would help downtown, would be to complete the Border Highway throught that area, and hook it to Sunland Park or Transmountain Road.

It is a "pain in the butt" to go downtown, so we do it only if necessary which is not very often.

Right now the Border Highway from Zaragoza to downtown is being upgraded to three lanes. If they could get that Westside area done it would really open up all that area. It's an expensive project and will take time to work out the federal and state funding, plus the local match.

Thanks for all the interesting posts on this arena topic. Glad to see others have serious questions about it too.

Sandra Key, Appellant v. The Commissioners Court Of Marion County, Texas, Appellee COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, Sixth District, Texarkana 727 S.W.2d 667; 1987 Tex. App. LEXIS 6544
March 4, 1987, Decided Tex. Const. art. III, § 52, art. XI, § 3. We quote the pertinent language from these sections: Sec. 52.(a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, the Legislature shall have no power to authorize any county, city, town or other political corporation or subdivision of the State to lend its credit or to grant public money or thing of value in aid of, or to any individual, association or corporation whatsoever, . . . . (Emphasis added.) Sec. 3. No county, city, or other municipal corporation shall hereafter become a subscriber to the capital of any private corporation or association, or make any appropriation or donation to the same, or in any wise loan its credit; . . . . (Emphasis added.) The Commissioners Court points out in its brief that the language was designed to end the use of government money to profit private companies...The Commissioners Court also argues that a "public purpose" exception should be read into the cited constitutional articles. It contends that since the transfer was to a non-profit organization with the same stated goals as the commission, the transfer was in the public interest and therefore does not violate the constitutional ban. It cites cases which show that transfers of money to private corporations are permissible if the public purpose is accomplished through the transfer, even if a private [**5] interest is also benefited. Each case cited is readily distinguishable from the present situation... The Commissioners Court brief quotes from Willatt, Constitutional Restrictions on Use of Public Money and Public Credit, 38 Tex. B. J. 413 (1975), at some length to support its argument that the "public purpose" doctrine properly applies here. However, the article summarizes its discussion of the subject by concluding that "to insure that the political subdivision receives its consideration, [**6] viz., accomplishment of the public purpose, the political subdivision must retain some degree of control over the performance of the contract."

Ralph Barrington et al., Appellants, v. Jimmie P. Cokinos et al., Appellees Court of Civil Appeals of Texas, Beaumont "No county, city, or other municipal corporation shall hereafter become a subscriber to the capital of any private corporation or association, or make any appropriation or donation to the same, or in anywise loan its credit; but this shall not be construed to in any [*334] way affect any obligation heretofore undertaken pursuant to law." It does not, in our opinion, render either of the contracts invalid. A loan of the City's credit is definitely not involved, because neither of the railroad companies has become or is to become indebted to the City or to anyone else as a result of the contracts or of the transaction to which the contracts appertain. And we are just as convinced that the City has not become and is not to become a "subscriber to the capital" of the companies, since it neither owns nor is to own stock [**9] or any interest in either company. We are also of the opinion, of course, but for less succinct reasons, that the City has not made and does not propose to make, within contemplation of the constitutional prohibition, either an appropriation or a donation to or for the benefit of the companies.

David, I don't often agree with you but you are dead on here. What's more and what the times isn't telling people is that Hotel Tax money is only to be spent on certain things (a ridiculous limitation if you ask me). As such much of the revenue is pumped into the coliseum and is translated back to the county in freed up revenue. The cost to the county is 30 cents on the dollar. So the county is getting back two thirds of the money invested that is free of restriction regarding how that money is spent. That is a monumental return on an investment when compared to what would be earned through returns on bonds from the proposed arena (a gamble to be sure). Way to be on the ball with this, buddy!

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