El Paso Country Club in Northeast El Paso

September 23, 2014

I heard part of a conversation the other day where an older guy was telling a younger one that the northeast part of town was home to the original El Paso Country Club.

Being ever eager to inform I thought that I would write what I have found out about the claim.

The original  club house was designed by Henry Trost and was built in the 1908-1909 period.  It was located at the intersection of Mountain and Dyer.  It had a 9 hole golf course.  Two holes were on the club’s property and 7 were on Fort Bliss.

The club house burned down Friday night, May 2, 1916.

A schism in the membership developed.  It seems that most of the  financial and commerce community lived on the east side of the mountain in the communities along Alabama.  They wanted to rebuild their club on the existing site.  The avid golfers wanted to take Zack White up on his offer to donate land to build a country club and golf course in the upper valley where the club is located today.

The answer?  Build two club houses.  The El Paso Morning Times reported in it’s Friday, August 4, 1916 edition that “The directors, after much deliberation, hit upon the scheme of building two club houses”.  They decided to build one at the old location and at the Zach White location (where the club is now) they would build another club house and a golf course.


Progressive regression

September 22, 2014

While doing research for the post about El Paso Country Club’s original location I ran across the Sunday, August 30, 1914 edition of The El Paso Morning Times.

The newspaper was applauding El Paso’s growth.  According to the article the population of El Paso 30 years prior (1884) was 500 people.  By 1914 it was over 60,000 people.  Yikes!

The newspaper printed “a brief list of some of the things that El Paso has”.  One item on the list caught my eye:

“Thirty-seven miles of finely paved streets”

Oh for the good old days!

It seems that our progressives have taken us backward.

We deserve better



Can’t win for losing

September 21, 2014

The Tuesday, September 16, 2014 agenda for the El Paso Independent School District board of managers contains a classic example of how local government staffs play favorites when choosing vendors.

The agenda had two separate construction items on it.  The backup material shows us how unfair the district can be.

One item was for about $4 million of construction at Milam elementary.  One bidder submitted a bid that was higher than the low bid.  Staff recommended that the contract be given to the low bidder.  That looks right on the face of it.

The higher bidder (Bidder A)  was given the highest score possible  (3.00) on criteria item 10 (“whether the Bidder’s financial capability is appropriate to the size and scope of the Project”).

The problem

The other construction item was for about $1 million.  Bidder A from the previous item submitted the lowest bid but did not get the contract.  District staff instead recommended giving the contract to the second lowest bidder.

The recommendation was based on a numerical scoring system that included twelve different criteria.  Bidder A was evaluated well across the board, except on item 10 (“whether the Bidder’s financial capability is appropriate to the size and scope of the Project”).  Bidder A was given a 2.10 out of 3.00 this time, thus lowering his total score and putting him in second place.  He was also dinged for “timely” submission of organizational and other documents in the bid he should have won while he earned the maximum number of points for the same item on the other bid.


How can Bidder A be perfectly capable (3.00 out of 3.00 points) to financially handle a $4 million construction contract and only be marginally capable (2.10 our of 3.00 points) to handle a $1 million construction contract on the same day?

The same day!

The answer is that the fix was in.  Bidder A had done much work for the school district but evidently has fallen out of favor.

We deserve better


Wrong date and time at the Times

September 20, 2014

Our El Paso Times continues to misinform its readers.

The Monday, September 15, 2014 edition has a front page article that claimed:

“The city will consider making a zoning change today that would restrict where payday and car loan companies can set up shop.

The zoning amendment is up for discussion and action at today’s 8 a.m. City Council meeting.”

Not true

City council meets on Tuesday.  This Monday a “Legislative Review Meeting of the Whole” was scheduled.

The meeting was to start at 9 a.m.

No action can be taken during the Monday meeting.  They must wait for a city council meeting to take action.

The issue is scheduled for a public hearing before council Tuesday, September 16.  Members of the public should express their thoughts about the issue at the Tuesday meeting.  I wonder if anyone attended the Monday meeting intending to speak.

The online edition of the Times contained the same mistakes earlier in the morning of the 15th.  In reviewing the online edition while writing this post I see that the Times has corrected its errors online.  This was done without telling us that they changed their article.

At least with the printed edition of the Times we have proof of what they publish.  With the online edition they evidently feel it is okay to change their story without telling us that they have made a change.

It’s hard to believe that the reporter does not know the difference between a city council meeting and a legislative review meeting.  Does that mean that the article was published too early?  With that being a possibility, why wouldn’t the reporter refrain from using the word “today” and instead write the actual date being referred to?

We deserve better



Supporting our charities

September 19, 2014

It will probably take a while to count up the money but I am eager to hear what local charities will be the recipients of the profits from the first season of baseball.  El Pasoans supported the team with over 8,000 attendees per game.

The team ownership went on record telling us that their profits would be donated to local charities back when the whole ball park issue was being sold to us.  This article in El Paso, Inc. told us “During the controversy over the plan to demolish City Hall to make way for the stadium, MountainStar Sports agreed to raise the city’s return on the stadium and to donate any profits it receives to local charities.”

We might reasonably expect that their first year expenses were higher than what will be normal.  There is no provision in their contract with the city to allow us to audit their books.  That’s the city’s fault.  I’m not saying that the owners will lie to us.  Quite to the contrary I expect that they will be honorable.

Let’s hope to see great benefit to our local charities.

We should not expect however what our former city representative and candidate for mayor told us to expect.  The El Paso Times  wrote this in an article:

“Both families understand that quality of life is part of the equation to making El Paso more competitive for jobs,” Ortega said, adding that the group has pledged the first 10 years of revenues to local charities.

Of course he was in office at the time so we should expect that he would not distinguish between profit and revenue.

We deserve better



Digging a hole

September 18, 2014

I find irony in the fact that the city is trying to restrict access to payday lenders while the county has become a payday borrower.

The people in charge of our county hospital have let it  get into such bad shape that they need to borrow money now against next year’s property tax income.

According to the Times, things have gotten so bad over at the hospital that the hospital needs to borrow $20 million from next year’s $69 million in property  tax income.  That’s 30 percent of their paycheck.  Try that yourself.

According to hospital management if they are not allowed to borrow the $20 million they will lose out on $45 million from the feral government.  Evidently even the feds have financial standards — ones that we will not meet unless we take the payday loan.

Management wants to borrow the money now and pay it back February 28, 2015.  The cost will be $75,000, two thirds of it will be interest and one third loan origination costs.

Any one of us that told our bank that we need to borrow 1/3 of our salary for five months in order to make ends meet would be told no.  Not only no but let’s call your current loans since you are obviously in deep trouble and we might not get any of our money back.

It looks like our county hospital does not have to operate with a balanced budget.  Evidently they are allowed to borrow money against next year’s tax income.  What will happen if the city starts to use this technique?  Is this a new way to mortgage our futures?

We deserve better




Constitution Day 2014

September 17, 2014

Today is Wednesday, September 17, 2014, Constitution Day — the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Some in our country feel that it needs to be a living document.  I certainly agree to the extent that “living” means relevant, in control.

In order for it to have life we must respect it, not ignore it.

Who would not agree that a document more than 230 years old that enumerates specific provisions cannot have contemplated our situation today?

Vote for change

The issue comes down to how we change it.  Current fashion is to circumvent it whenever what people in power want to do is not authorized by the plain wording of the document.  Thoughts like “since it says that it exists to promote our common welfare we should go ahead and do what I want to do because my plan would be good for a lot of people” put us in jeopardy of letting an oligarchy, a few people in power, rewrite the rules as they see fit.

Others think that our supreme court should decree changes to it when in fact the supreme court exists to interpret it, not modify it.  Interpretation to me does not include deciding what it should say.  The should interpret what it does say.

Our Constitution was agreed to by the people after months of intense discussion and decision making.  Changes to it should be made by the people, not by our government officials.

Article V of the Constitution provides two methods of changing it.  Whenever two-thirds of the members of congress want to propose a change they can.  Alternatively two-thirds of the state legislatures can propose changes.  From there it takes the approval of three-fourths of the state legislatures or three-fourths of specially called state conventions.   How a proposed change is to be ratified (legislature vs. convention) must be specified when the proposal for the change is made.  No amendment has ever been taken to state conventions.

You might think that the process for making changes sets a pretty high bar.  It does.  We don’t want to change our basic rules whenever the wind changes direction.  Time has a way of solving many problems.

Part of the “living document” movement is the feeling that it takes too long to change the Constitution.

Our Constitution has been amended 27 times.  The 26th, changing the voting age to 18 passed in three months.  Eight passed in less than a year.  With the exception of one outlier the two amendments that took the longest to pass were passed in less than four years.  The outlier was our last amendment, the 27th.  The 27th prohibited congress from raising their own pay until after the next election of representatives.  It took 202 years, 7 months, and 12 days.  No need to wonder why.

We could strip our governments of much of their abuse of power if we made them follow the rules, not the rules as they think they should have been worded.  If they don’t like the way things are worded, they should ask to change it.  It doesn’t take long in the scheme of things.

We deserve better



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