A note from Dylan Corbett

September 19, 2018

Mr. Dylan Corbett is running for city council district eight.

He responded to our invitation to send in a post.

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Dylan Corbett is running to be El Paso’s City Representative for District 8.

 

Anyone familiar with local El Paso politics today is overwhelmed by a dreadful feeling of intractability.

Whatever the issue, we’re consumed with backbiting and the inability to find common ground, and it feel like we’re just a day or two away from backsliding.

There are problems aplenty.

No one can deny that our roads and infrastructure are in less than great shape.

Our exploding debt tops out at over two billion dollars, more than Austin and Fort Worth. Crippling budget overruns for Quality of Life projects are the order of the day. Property owners and renters are paying a higher percentage of the city’s budget, an unsustainable prospect for the veteran, retired couple and young family our city needs.

Now that our population has flatlined and the gold standard of economic development has become Top Golf, the promise downtown redevelopment held that El Paso would attract investment and living wage jobs is on shakier ground.

The crisis we face, however, is not financial but one of leadership. Our current political class is straitjacketed by a narrow vision of development, one that privileges short term gains over sustainability and political job security over the common good.

Some of our elected leaders have been corrupted not so much with money as by overly cozy relationships with developers eager to advance private agendas. Their disconnectedness has been funded by low voter turnout. Our city council is overwhelmed by a city manager more intent on burnishing his resume than on laying the foundations of stable growth that will benefit our children. And subtle racism and dismissive attitudes have generated self-inflicted political wounds like the Duranguito and Mexican American Cultural Center fiascos.

Our city’s destiny shouldn’t be small horizons and endless knife fights over checks signed years ago. What is needed is humble leadership to bring our residents together to address the challenges of tomorrow.

We need new revenues to fund our core commitments, but that will require building a sustainable economy for the long-term. We can rethink the meaning of quality of life, build on our unique strengths as a border community, leverage our assets like our open space, and invest in our historic communities south of the highway.

We also need to overcome ancient rivalries that continue to poison our democracy. To do that we’ll need compromise and dialogue with all our city’s residents but we also have to address the real problems of injustice, prejudice and inequality that still grease the wheels of our economy and politics.

Politicians lose their legitimacy when they’re no longer able to compromise. And when they’ve become indifferent to the community.

The good thing is that none of our problems are really intractable. We just need to vote for leaders up to the challenge.

 

 


What’s this about?

September 16, 2018

It seems that one of our city representatives wants at least one of our city facilities to pay for itself.

From the Tuesday, September 18, 2018 city council agenda:

30.4. Discussion and action to direct the City Manager and City Attorney to draft an ordinance requiring the end user of the Eastside Sports Complex to be charged a fee no less than the amount needed for operations, maintenance and capital improvement of the park, not covered by the PID & TIRZ and to tie the collection of the fees to the existence of the PID & TIRZ.
 
  Representative Michiel Noe, (915) 212-0005

 

It would be nice if we could get him to pay attention to the situation over at Sun Metro and maybe while he’s at it he could require that the proposed arena pay for itself.

We deserve better.

Brutus


The tax man cometh

September 15, 2018

The two slides below came from a presentation that was on the August 14, 2018 city council agenda.

The first one tells us that city staff believes it would cost one billion dollars to repave all of our city streets.

Staff indicates that on average a street needs to be repaved every 25 years.

Their arithmetic concludes that the annual cost of repaving the streets should be about $39 million.

How are they doing?

The second slide tells us what has been happening.

Yet we continue to spend money on niceties.

The tax man cometh.

We deserve better

Brutus


False argument

September 12, 2018

We have heard talk around town to the effect that the recall petition (of the mayor) being circulated will not be effective even if the required number of signatures are collected.

The theory is that the petition will not be submitted until after the deadline for placing items on the November election.

The city charter required council to pass a recall ordinance back when the charter was approved by the voters.

Council did pass the recall ordinance (number 008066 ) on June 5, 1984.

It reads:

“If the petition shall be found sufficient, the City Clerk shall submit the petition to the City Council without delay, and the City Council, in the event the officer fails to resign, shall order that the recall election be held at the next permitted election date under the laws of Texas.”

If the petition does not make it in before the cutoff for the November election then it will have to be considered at the next election date.

The next “Texas uniform election date” after the November election  will be the first Saturday in May, 2019.

We deserve better

Brutus


Employee savings plan

September 2, 2018

One of the problems with the city allowing employees to accumulate unused vacation and sick days until they retire is that the city pays them out at the employee’s current pay rate, not the rate the employee was paid when they got the days.

We deserve better

Brutus


Deep in debt

August 31, 2018

The city’s 2017 comprehensive annual financial report is now available on the web.

One of the sad things it shows is that the city raised $251,591,361 from property taxes last year.

They spent $95,734,979 on debt service.

That means that 38% of our property taxes are going to pay for things that we owe money for.

We deserve better

Brutus


Unwise promises

August 29, 2018

Voters in Houston, Texas overwhelmingly approved the issuance of up to $2.5 billion in bonds for flood control.

From the flood control district website:

The explanation given is that the bonds will be sold over a 10 to 15 year period.

The explanation does not even answer the question asked.  Instead the response says “The process to sell the first allotment of bonds could take about XXXX”.

The voters have given the flood control district a blank check. No one knows what will happen in the next year much less 10 to 15 years out.

They should have insisted that if bonds were needed they would be approved by the voters in smaller chunks, say five years at a time.

Consider our case here in El Paso where in 2012 voters approved the issuance of $473 million in bonds for quality of life projects.  Six years later the majority of the money has not been spent.

We deserve better

Brutus


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