Dead right

October 3, 2015

In the last few days I’ve witnessed a dangerous practice that I hope all will take warning of.

No less than five times I have approached or passed through a stop-light controlled traffic intersection and have seen a driver deliberately run a red light.  Traffic was always light.

All of the drivers were male and all were young.

Be careful!

We deserve better


Earn our trust

October 2, 2015

The folks over at the Ysleta school district are going to try again.

Earlier this year they held an election seeking approval for $451 million in bonds.  The voters turned them down but it was close.

Now four months later they have announced that they will hold another election in November seeking $430 million.

Last time they published an extensive list of what they were thinking of spending the money on.  This time they have not issued a similar list yet.

Part of the problem the voters had is that the district reserved the right to change how we were told the money would be spent.  This graphic was available on the district’s web site:

yisdproject list

Another issue is the belief that many voters have that our local governments cannot handle major construction projects well.  Since the failure of their bond election we have seen the city bungle construction projects and not move forward on the quality of life bonds that the voters gave them back in 2012.

We have a children’s hospital in bankruptcy.  Our county hospital is losing money without even considering the money that the children’s hospital owes it.  The county allowed the hospital to sell $152 million worth of bonds to build new clinics that would save us $17 million a year in the emergency room according to the hospital administrator.  We have not seen the clinics and we have not seen the savings.

EPISD voted to repurpose $59 million that the voters were told would build a new high school.

The city can’t even build a one square block park, even at the outrageous price of $6 million.  The engineering department has essentially been eviscerated and the city has hired two out of town engineering firms.  Local firms need not apply.  We approved $473 million in bonds for quality of life projects three years ago and have seen nothing significant produced.

My sense is the public knows that YISD needs money.  The voters might be more apt to approve their requests if a more reasonable approach was taken.  They should ask for some money for a deserving project, say around $50 million.  Then they should complete the project thus proving to us that they will do what they promise and that they can handle the construction.

They need to prove that they can handle the money if we give it to them.

We deserve better


Losing hospital

October 1, 2015

The May 31, 2015 financial report from our county hospital shows them continuing to lose money.

This is our county hospital alone, not considering the children’s hospital.  We have already learned that the children’s hospital loses money every month.

The report shows the total loss for the first eight months ended May 31, 2015 at $3,570.972.

If we project that out for a full twelve months at the same rate they will lose $5,356,458.

Then again they may feel the need to add to this loss by increasing their bonuses.

We deserve better


High and dry

September 30, 2015

As part of the posturing going on between two dysfunctional organizations, the children’s hospital has claimed in a bankruptcy court filing that it might move to a different location.

Our county judge reacted with this statement according to the Times:

County Judge Veronica Escobar said that if Children’s Hospital was to move, it would break faith with the public.

“They wanted to leave the taxpayers high and dry,” she said in a text message.

Her statement was deliberately misleading.  The taxpayers voted to build a children’s hospital.  They did not vote to give our county hospital an extra $10 million a year from charging rent to the children’s hospital.  The county thus gets both our tax dollars to pay for the bonds and the money from the children’s hospital.  Our county leaders and the county hospital are the ones that have broken faith with the public.

Reality Checker posted this comment the other day:

If you consider that EPCH only occupies four or five floors of the 10-story building that was built with children’s hospital bond money, you begin to realize the level of UMC’s greed. UMC is charge EPCH more than $10,000,000 in annual rent, which works out to about $46 per square foot annually for the 225,000 square feet occupied by EPCH. Compare that to $23 per foot for medical space in Houston.

So UMC built the EPCH building with dollars earmarked for a children’s hospital and is now having EPCH pay for the entire building, despite the fact that EPCH occupies half the building or less. UMC of course doesn’t have to pay rent for the half of the EPCH building that it occupies.

Why is it that both our county officials and the media refuse to dig into the lease rates and service fees UMC has been charging?

Why is the county refusing to share publicly the details of both sides’ offers and counter offers?

Which is better?

High and dry sounds a lot better than getting soaked the way the taxpayers are in this deal.

We deserve better



EPCH press release

September 29, 2015

For Immediate Release

DATE: September 29, 2015


El Paso, Texas: El Paso Children’s Hospital issued the following statement today:


This morning, the Board of El Paso Children’s Hospital (EPCH) asked for representatives of UMC and County Commissioners Court to explain the rejection of EPCH’s acceptance of an interim proposal that the parties have been negotiating for nearly two weeks.


EPCH Board Chair Rosemary Castillo reaffirmed that the EPCH board had accepted, UMC’s counter-offer.  “We were only given a couple of hours Monday morning to respond to UMC’s counter proposal.  We gave approval to the terms as explained by UMC’s counsel.  We still don’t know why they think we changed any terms. The interpretation of this last issue was first discussed between counsel last Thursday when UMC surprised us with a totally new term in its counteroffer.”


On Friday, EPCH gave a timely response to UMC’s Thursday offer of an interim agreement with two alternative proposals, including one that would have resolved the litigation completely.  EPCH gave UMC three days to consider and respond to the opportunity to end the litigation.


“We wanted to show them that we are more than willing to drop the litigation if they recognize that the obligations to UMC have to be modified to reflect the market place for the children’s hospital to thrive,” said lead litigation attorney Patricia Tomasco, a partner with Jackson Walker in Austin.  “Despite discussions between counsel all weekend, UMC has yet to even respond to EPCH’s global offer.  Rather, UMC went back to its prior offer delivered on Thursday and then rejected EPCH’s attempt to accept it.”


Tomasco reiterated that. “We offered to talk at 11 p.m. last night and again at 6 a.m. this morning.” EPCH Board Chair Rosemary Castillo expressed frustration with UMC’s and Commissioners Court’s actions. “It certainly looks like they don’t want to settle. We make a global offer and they don’t even respond. We accept their interim proposal and they say ‘no you didn’t!’ It makes no sense.”


El Paso Children’s Hospital is committed to serving the best interests of the critically ill and injured children of our community and surrounding region.




Thursday, September 24th

o        UMC adds totally new term to counter-offer:  Children’s gets 45 more days to find a strategic partner, Children’s postpones lawsuit till January


Friday, September 25th

o        10:00 am – EPCH presents UMC with counter-offer (Plan A and Plan B) to UMC

o        Commissioner’s Court indicates…”want the weekend to review”

o        Escobar says Commissioner’s Court will convene with UMC Board of Managers at 8:30 am Monday in a special session before the Commissioner’s Court regular meeting


Monday, September 28

o        10:00 am  – UMC sends EPCH counter-offer rejecting abated rent, requires approximately $5 million Disproportionate Share payment EPCH expects to receive in December to go to UMC

o        11:00 am – EPCH agrees to terms of counter-offer, says, “Yes” to concessions.

o        12:00 noon – UMC Board of Managers and Commissioner’s Court respond rejecting EPCH plan which includes EPCH’s agreement to concessions requested two hours earlier.


Tuesday, September 29

o        Emergency hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Austin.  UMC will ask Mott to allow UMC to submit its own plan and end EPCH exclusivity.


Monday, October 22

o        Trial set to determine whether the Children’s hospital has been overcharged for rent and/or services by UMC.



September 29, 2015

I’m not siding with either our county hospital or the children’s hospital on this debt situation.

Both have performed miserably and have let the taxpayers down.

We did get a glimpse of the one-sided nature of the discussions the other day.

Evidently the folks at our county hospital made their “final” offer Thursday afternoon.  They gave the children’s hospital until 5 p.m. that same afternoon to respond.  That was generous of them.

Someone must have squawked because that deadline was extended to 10 a.m. the next morning.  That still gave the people at children’s less than 24 hours to make a decision.

Children’s evidently made a counteroffer Friday.

The Times reported that the county then decided to take a few days to think about the situation:

Citing progress, County Judge Veronica Escobar said county officials and the UMC board are going to take until Monday morning to consider the most recent draft of the agreement.

Children’s was told that it needed to respond within a few hours.  Our county officials got a few days.

This lends credence to children’s argument that they have historically received demands from the county hospital with no time to react differently.

We deserve better


Not competitive

September 29, 2015

The city’s new bike share program doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Let’s say that someone worked in the main city hall building and they wanted to deliver one of their totally objective press releases to the Times so that the Times could publish it as though it was the product of investigative reporting.

The city worker could walk out of city hall and use the bike share depot that is located adjacent to city hall.  He/she would provide the machine with a credit card and would be charged $6 for 30 minutes of rental time.

Our worker could then pedal over to the Times building but would probably want to deposit the bike in another depot so that it would be locked up while visiting the Times.  The nearest depot which appears to be at the Union Plaza, only a couple of blocks away.  Locking up the bike is a good idea since the charge for not returning one is $1,350.


Then again the worker could call Uber and get there for the same $6, without the walk or the risk of having to pay for a stolen bicycle.

We deserve better



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