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June 11, 2019

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Beto wasn't even on city council when the 2012 bond issue was placed on the ballot. He was on there running for the 16th district congressional seat. If memory serves me right he never said a damn thing about the bond election, the elements in the bond election and whether or not he supported an arena. I think like most politicians he probably said "the voters approved it". The Tribune is trying to tie the PDN downtown MP with the Durangito/arena issue. They are 2 totally different issues that occurred at different times.

I did see Bryant's Op-Ed in the Sunday paper. Wow - pretty nasty comments about Dee and Adair Margo at the end. I thought the guy had more class than that. Guess when you are sinking thousands and thousands of dollars into a lawsuit that isn't getting you anywhere then one can be bitter about the whole mess.

Prediction: this lawsuit will still be center stage when the campaign starts for Mayor in 2020. And when that happens people need to remember who was Mayor when the whole Durangito thing happened - Oscar Leeser. Not Dee Margo.

Oh David, if it were not for me and Dr. Bonart you would have nothing to write about, so I'm glad to help fill your days.

First of all, let me enlighten you. Placing the "Arena" in the First Ward ("Duranguito") was already being discussed in El Paso Times reports going back to 1999, and the Paso del Norte Group presented a map to the City in February 2006 showing the "Arena" exactly in the proposed location. That had always been where they wanted it, and Beto was 100% aware and 100% behind it. I would have emailed you the documentation if you had the diligence to ask for it before bloviating wildly.

Second, 39 people were displaced from their homes by the City in 2016-2017. An additional 90 or so still live in the barrio, but only 2 remain within the confines of the "Arena footprint." Get it right.

As for the name "Duranguito," who the hell cares what it's called? You can call it the First Ward, Union Plaza, or Duranguito. It doesn't matter. It was the first settled area in what is now El Paso and this is asserted even by the archaeological firm the City hired to study and demo the neighborhood.

Finally, I am very open about my conservative Libertarian leanings and wear it on my sleeve. Reporters, including Root, generally know that about me after the first minute of an interview. Root, by the way, is the guy who took down Ken Paxton over his disclosure obligations some time ago. He has called out both Republicans and Democrats, so it's hard to call him a partisan. His story was well along before he contacted me, and no, we are not donors to his paper (!).

One thing is definitely clear from your posts. You do not give a rat's ass about the history and culture of El Paso and you know precious little about either. Again, email me and I'll send along a bibliography. Educate yourself, David, and I will try to do the same. There is a lot to be proud of here beyond your family's business interests.

Max,

Are we to believe that after an arena was voted on and passed 13 years later that someone went back to 1999 to place the arena in Union plaza? you need to quit while you are behind. Those people left willingly and happily because David is right the place was a dump. You had 20 years by your account to have the place declared historical yet you did nothing until now. All those historical surveys from the past never pegged Union Plaza as historic. How could they have missed it?

Until recently, when certain people started buying up the older, beat up retail stores and hotels the downtown was a disaster. It looked awful! I don't care if that's where Christopher Columbus crossed the Rio Grande to get to America. The whole downtown should have been imploded and start over.

Yes - the arena has been talked about since 1996. The county and the city both talked about it. All downtown MP's talk about adding arena's or sports stadiums or whatever. Very common in the Master planning world.

But Max - for all your love and dedication to El Paso history nothing, and I mean nothing, has been done to clean up the ugly, dilapidated buildings in many parts of downtown El Paso. I never saw you or any of your other history buffs raising money, writing grants - anything to get it cleaned up. It was totally ignored until it came time to pick the arena site, the architect and get going. Then you woke up.

I grew up here Max. Downtown died many, many years ago - in the 80's - thank you Simon Malls and Power Centers. We should be thankful for the development that is occurring and move on.

I find it really hard to buy into the mindset the historical crowd/society in this town has. They never, ever did anything to preserve the downtown. Nothing. Lots of other cities did and they put their money where their mouth was. The trouble with El Paso and its fringe groups is they bitch a lot about stuff like this and want someone else to pay for it - much like Bryant financing all your lawsuits.

Whether a blogger lives in El Paso or not - it is a free country and people can write about anything and any place they want. It's called free speech. Your Libertarian beliefs should know that. I resent the hell out of out of town journalists descending on El Paso to write stories about the border when they know absolutely nothing about living on the border. I don't complain to them - I just don't read their stories. Maybe you should do the same with this blog.

A few more facts to digest:

1. The City conducted a 1998 architectural/archeological survey of Union Plaza and the survey recommended adding numerous buildings to the National Register of Historic Places and creating a historic district there. The City did nothing to implement any of this and actively resisted attempts to landmark anything there because it was seen as a redevelopment zone.

2. The properties had been scooped up by PDNG insiders before the "Arena" location was made public in March 2006. The investors purchased the properties in order to demolish them and sell the lots to the city, so obviously there was no question of putting money into them. They ultimately received up to 5 times CAD value in 2017.

3. I co-authored the recent architectural survey of the neighborhood in 2011 and it took years to implement. When all is done, there will be fed and state tax credits for restoration projects, but the City has resisted this as well. So you see, there have been efforts to save the area since 8 years ago.

We can disagree on whether the neighborhood should be preserved, but hopefully we can at least agree on the facts.

You are right to suspect that the self described "investigative reporter" and author of the article has it in for Beto. At his profile page at the Tribune web site (link below) you can see that his recent articles have all been about Beto and all are negative. No wonder he seems to have swallowed all that nonsense Max told him just to try to align Beto with the site selection and bond issue which was overwhelmingly approved by real citizen voters. I suppose Max votes here (and he certainly voted for Trump which says volumes about him)but I still consider Max to be a carpetbagger who moved here for a job and not by choice of where he wanted to live - and if he doesn't ever get tenure at UTEP you bet (and I hope) he will move away. https://www.texastribune.org/about/staff/jay-root/

Max: the City didn't make "public" an arena site in 2006. Maybe PDNG did - but not the city. I attended all of the public meetings the city held for the PDNG Downtown Master Plan. I don't recall any presentation identifying specifically an arena site in Durangito. Back then they didn't call it Durangito either. As far as the city not moving on the sites identified as historical it was probably all about money. Taxpayers don't like their taxes raised to preserve old, dilapidated buildings that have no special purpose or reason other than they are old and because they are old they have some sort of historical value - which means they won't pay their fair share of taxes and it falls on the rest of us. Maybe they should declare the home my mother was raised in 90+ years ago as historical - it's not downtown but it's old - it means something to her...

Gnossos - Max already has tenure at UTEP. You can thank outgoing President Diana Natalicio for that one.

From 2006 article: “Also in the Plan is an arena in Union Plaza, part of the Redevelopment District.“

Link: https://web.archive.org/web/20060621122945/http://www.newspapertree.com:80/view_article.sstg?c=4b3577de53c8437a&mc=4ec49526ec3445f1">http://www.newspapertree.com:80/view_article.sstg?c=4b3577de53c8437a&mc=4ec49526ec3445f1">https://web.archive.org/web/20060621122945/http://www.newspapertree.com:80/view_article.sstg?c=4b3577de53c8437a&mc=4ec49526ec3445f1

Jay Root,

Welcome to the party! Clearly stated in the article is exactly what Beto and city council voted for:

The Plan asks that the city:

-- Create a TIRZ

-- Establish an Office of Urban Redevelopment under the City Manager to work with the 2010 Foundation

-- Create seven task forces to “serve as a link between the community, business and civic leaders for information, execution and problem solving,” according to the plan fact book (page 8).

Another element to the plan is to create a Real Estate Investment Trust, a company that manages property. Property owners can contribute their property for shares in a REIT. [reit info]

------------

what you don't know, because you weren't there is that a non-governmental entity created a what seemed like an official plan. it was not. It was a "back of the napkin" rendering of what a few guys with zero planning, design or construction experience thought could happen. The pictures and talk of anything concrete at that point was just a suggestion and Beto and the entire city council repeatedly said "stop looking at that map" because they were not approving that map - which would have been a zoning issue. Proof of that is that nearly zero of the things on that map ever came to fruition... because it was a marketing piece and nothing more. Nobody voted on an arena in 2006. They voted on creating a TIRZ and REIT. It was clearly understood that any development ideas discussed at the same time were just that - discussion.

Furthermore - A later and lesser version of that PDNG group tried to game a County Commissioner's court meeting by taking the HOT tax proceeds from various entities in order to build an arena. downtown, but not in the plaza district. They wanted to build it next to or on top of the soon to be out of use Union Pacific rail yard. So, shortly after this unofficial, non-binding rendering was circulated they actually tried to build the arena in an entirely different location because there was nothing making them build it in Union Plaza.

The current location was not picked by Beto nor approved by him. The selection of the site was done under mayor Leeser and an entirely different city council. An outside consultant looking to get rich on El Paso's bad decisions picked Union Plaza - mainly for access reasons and because surrounding utilities had been mapped with the building of the baseball park. Again - Beto was in DC when this happened. The current Mayor was doing something else entirely.

I can't say it enough ways - beto didn't vote to put an arena down there. He merely voted for a TIRZ and REIT and was the only city council member brave enough to meet with stakeholders and tell them the truth about the plan.

If you want to crap on someone or have a good story - go look in to the latest version of PDNG.

Love,

David K

David, then how do you explain Beto’s absolute silence on the issue of the "Arena" location for a dozen years? ANSWER: he was in the know from the beginning. The 2006 PDNG map corresponds perfectly to all the City Council undertook with regard to downtown redevelopment ever since that time. It is ridiculous for you to assert otherwise, no matter what you think of Beto, and it is foolish of you to impugn the reporter. Facts are stubborn things.

Max G,

Russia also invaded the Ukraine during that time - was Beto at fault for that too?

The city plan commission has never taken up that artist rendering. In fact, Paul Foster screwed the entire deal up by buying the properties with his own money and fixing them up. The REIT was supposed to do that. And besides - our former city manager was all set to put the arena where the Abraham Chavez center is now. It was literally all over the news for months. And then, somebody got a resolution passed that ditched that idea. Only then, under Leeser's tenure did they go back and choose Duranguito. The PDNG group since the 2006 plan has suggested the Union Pacific rail yard, Abraham Chavez theatre and then Duranguito. Without the PDNG's input, the former mayor and council picked Duranguito.

As I told Democrats when Obama was elected - "keep blaming Bush for things he didn't do and is in no position to fix and you'll find yourself going nowhere." You've got Dee to fight with - why involve Beto?

We obviously don't agree on what a "fact" is.

Love

David K

Max: people are allowed to not answer a question if they don't want to. The last 6 he was busy in Congress and running for Senate. Why would Beto care about an arena when he was reaching for bigger and better things. The PDNG rose from the dead when the 2012 bond issue surfaced and the Oklahoma consultant made all those suggestions to then CM Joyce Wilson (remember the "crazies" comment in an email?). This was pushed by the people that had always been involved in the PDNG group.

Anyone in El Paso that actually lived through, followed through and voted yay or nay on the arena know this history. You are trying to re-write history and now using the excuse that Beto for some reason has to answer to a reporter and the world what he thinks about the location of an arena in El Paso. No one cares Max. No one - especially in the rest of Texas and in Iowa and New Hampshire.

By the way - I am no fan of Beto but I don't believe he deserved the negative comments written about him in the Texas Tribune article.

Bayto had everything to do with the rail yard moving. Ask yourself why ?

Think: Ray Caballero wanted the railyard moved to make the El Paso version of Central Park. This was in 2001-2003 when he was Mayor. The issue died shortly after he lost his re-election and when the railroad refused to play ball. Susie Byrd pushed it because it was Ray's dream and she worked for Caballero as an Executive Assistant during his term.

Years later the railroad does build a huge facility out in Santa Teresa to add to the intermodal transportation and it had nothing to do with any desire, decision or whatever from City council. They still have their railyard outside of downtown El Paso.

So do you think it is mere coincidence that they want to build an arena where the “back of the napkin” plan had it?

Jay Root,

Unfortunately for you, I have a lot of local knowledge about the history of the arena. Is it a "coincidence?" Probably. Beto's closest allies pushed very hard to have the arena built at what is now the Abraham Chavez Theatre. Some political maneuvering kept that from happening. Several months after that failure a group hostile to Beto and all of Beto's friends suggested they go to the Union Plaza District. This groups is also at odds with the PDNG on almost every issue. Their "consultant" liked the location because of it's access and the utility mapping that had gone on for the baseball stadium.

the important part here is that nearly ten years apart different groups of people found the location to be useful only as an arena. Two groups of people who really don't like each other found something to agree upon.

David K

More information and additional perspectives are always good and I appreciate yours. Question: Beto says he has fought against an arena in Duranguito for years. You see any evidence of that?

Jay Root: are you going to dig deep into Julian Castro’s background in city government and find out what his stance was on controversial issues? Does it really matter in a national election for president? Not defending Beto but I don’t get the point of what you are trying to do regarding Beto and an arena in El Paso.

Jay Root,

I have no evidence that Beto fought against Duranguito for years. Just as there is no evidence he fought for it. I think Beto's most significant input to Durianguito is that when he started Stanton Street he located his office in the neighborhood when nobody else would do so.

Also, if you want perspective on the arena being down there. Sito Negron, who wrote the article you linked to, is today a major opponent of the arena going in Duranguito. However, he had zero concern when the article was written and in all the conversations I've had with him for 13 years about revitalizing downtown. The opposition to building the arena there is purely born of political factions fighting each other. I caution you being sucked into the childish slap fight that is local El Paso politics. You will find that everyone is lying to you - from the priests to the thief - all lying to you.

David K

Tired of Arena. I think Bayto had it moved because daddy in law Sanders owned all the property out there in Santa T. Bayto was the best rep New Mexico ever had. Oh wait, he was Texas Rep wasnt he ?

The railyard was off-limits because City Council promised crossing closures for the Union Pacific space that the ballpark needed. The City still hasn't delivered on that promise, so Union Pacific won't deal with the City. Paul Foster and Woody Hunt have donated more than a million dollars to the Trib. Perhaps that's why the Trib ignores El Paso's municipal malfeasance. Talking about local government and the local billionaires as separate entities is naive. Why did Mayor Margo loop Woody Hunt into the arena negotiations with JP Bryan? Mr. Hunt doesn't have an official portfolio. He's a private citizen, just like me and - oh, wait, you don't live here.

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