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Home | Opinion | Op-Ed: County Commissioner David Stout – …They Lied!
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Op-Ed: County Commissioner David Stout – …They Lied!

While the fight with the city over Duranguito has been going on for quite a while, it is just now, with the dramatic actions taken and the media focused on the issue, that many people are giving it some thought.

Unfortunately the City, whose plan is to demolish the neighborhood and build a sports arena, has purposely tried to confuse the public.  How much misinformation and lack of transparency must we endure from City officials before we say, “!Basta!”?

It started with the omission of sports in both the ordinance and the ballot language when the bond election was held in 2012. If everybody knew that they were voting for sports, as arena supporters argue, why not be up front and transparent and just include it in the language?

Could it have been because of the fallout regarding the way things were done with the baseball stadium?

If you recall, we were told that it would be paid strictly with hotel-motel taxes paid by out-of-town visitors, yet taxpayers ended up paying the difference when a multi-million dollar shortfall was announced. Taxpayers also are paying for police and other ongoing costs for services associated with the games.

For the record, I am a supporter of the baseball team, but I support transparent, honest government even more.

The City knew they couldn’t pass the bond if it said sports, but they also knew the project wouldn’t be viable without sports, so, thumbing their nose at transparency, they omitted it the language with the idea that later they would figure out how to convince the public they voted for it.

The no transparency game they decided to play has really gotten the City into trouble because the omission of sports is the basis of Max Grossman and his team of attorneys’ lawsuit, and now, after wasting millions of dollars, a judge has ruled the City cannot use bond money for anything sports related.

And speaking of the ballot language, though I have always advocated for a downtown location other than Duranguito, nothing we voted on states that the arena must be downtown. However, the City continues to lie to the public, stating that it did.

The City’s game continued when, on October 18th of 2016, the Council voted to place the arena in Duranguito. The announcement came just a few days earlier, however no information was provided to the public regarding how it was determined El Paso’s oldest neighborhood was the best site, nor was there any backup on the agenda item on the 18th.

A public presentation was given for the first time during the meeting in which the vote took place. A “study” was and continues to be quoted, but never publicized, and it took months for the City to post any relevant public documents on its website.

To add insult to injury, when information regarding other possible sites came out, the City claimed that the site east of the new City Hall, owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, was vetted and not an option. That was a lie.

What really happened was, when the City approached UP for land to build the ballpark, UP agreed to give it to them, but with the condition that they close a number of railroad crossings throughout the city. A wish-list of 31 closures was provided, and UP asked for 7.

When the City was moving to its new home, the option to purchase the railroad’s land behind that location came up. However, UP told the City there would be no negotiations until they made good on their first promise: closing 7 crossings. It was 2013 and there were still 4 open.

Fast forward again to 2016, nearly 10 years from the original deal, and the City still had not made good. The railroad company told us they never had discussions with the City regarding a possible arena location because of this. There was NO vetting of the railroad site.

The only reason the railroad site wasn’t a viable option was because the City duped UP.

So, to keep the public from finding out about it, they made up a huge lie. They said Union Pacific would ask the city to close as many as 31 railroad crossings in exchange for its land, and predicated on that one, huge lie, members of Council began to throw out excuses as to why the rail yard wouldn’t work, saying traffic would be hugely disrupted, people’s access to I-10 would be cut off and that it would be too costly.

Another story the City fabricated was that the arena had to be built within 1,000 feet of the convention center so they could receive $25 million in state incentives that was needed to expand from 12 thousand seats to 15 thousand. That one was completely debunked by the El Paso Inc. in an article written in January of this year.

One more on the long list was that the rail yard was so contaminated and it would cost millions upon millions to remediate. This absurd claim was never substantiated because, again, there was absolutely NO of the site.

There are so many lies.

Duranguito is the site not only of the first urban neighborhood, it also is the site of the first European settlement in Paso del Norte, the Ponce de Leon ranch. It is a historical treasure trove, yet the city denies these plain facts, too.

The sports arena has already cost us dearly, in both taxes and in the damage to public trust. I implore the current City Council and the business community that supports the arena to quit looking the other way and to say, “! Ya basta!”!

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Author: David Stout, El Paso County Commissioner, Pct 2

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16 comments

  1. Charles W - T Consaul

    Well said. Adding an additional playpen to the parking lot national forest (my affectionate nickname for downtown) is not going to improve the average person’s quality of life. We already have a perfectly good stadium going largely to waste and crying for repairs. In the meantime, the City is wasting money on novelties instead of legitimate tourist attractions. More money is being spent on ways to pass through town rather than to make El Paso the destination that it has historically been.

  2. The city also awarded an $800k contract for the so called “art” around the ballpark to a man by the name of Robert (Roberto) Davidoff. A man who owes many people a lot of money. He owed my deceased husband $100k (a judgement) was found against him. I am his widow and have been waiting for over 6 years for payment. The city paid him, now how about me? More lies!!!

    • Kimberly, although I feel your pain, I don’t really see that your plight has anywhere to go but into civil court.

  3. Hasn’t it also been revealed that mountain star is eyeing the UP property for their soccer stadium: http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/local_news/soccer-stadium-progresses/article_19b9f8a0-90ce-11e7-b84d-3b04a93b2859.html

    The city never looked into the rail yards because that is where the soccer stadium that tax payers will also be asked to swallow will be. It’s obvious who is pulling the strings behind the scenes.

    • Union Pacific will not sell to MountainStar Sports! the city wants the downtown arena to be located nearby the convention center since it lies under 1,000 feet from it.So it can receive back sales tax rebate from the state,money that belongs to El Paso, that could be in the some of $25 million dollars. That would be added to the downtown arena cost,making it a 15,000 seat arena instead of 12,500 seat. So the railyards never did make much sense for the city to build the arena there, those railyards don’t fall within 1,000 yards from the convention center to qualify for a tax rebate.

      • Alberto, evidently you stopped reading newsworthy sources back in January. The tax rebate from the state concerns convention hotels, NOT arena or entertainment venues. One thing to note about that also is that yes, it is up to $25 million, but it is only $500,000 a year, so it will take 50 years to recover all the $25 million. Did you know that?

  4. A few other things to note. The ballot was written with 6 items on it so we really don’t know how many people actually voted for the arts center. Neither did the ballot have a breakdown on how much money was allocated for each project.
    Another note, three weeks BEFORE the announcement on the location was made, guess who bought up the last tenement? You guessed it, one of the millionaires involved in MSSG.
    One of the other tenement owners, who had to be ordered to fix his tenement by a court, publicly stated he bought the property 8 years ago and let it rot so he could get big money selling it to the city.
    Finally, their plans call for a venue that’s not even as big as the Haskins or PanAm Center. At the same time, both those venues are tax exempt so they’ll have an advantage when it comes to big shows. There’s no parking in the area, no staging area for the 18 wheelers which will be hauling the equipment, and local businesses will suffer. This added to the fact that the b******s in City Hall and at MSSG want to get MORE taxes from a tax strapped city.

  5. County Commissioner David Stout and all the anti downtown arena naysayers should move out of town!This is getting old. Over 20 years went by any none of you shelved out any money to improve the decaying dilapidated Union Plaza. I’m talking about the area bounded by West Overland,Santa Fe Street,Paisano Street and Durango Street so where were you, all these years?
    Not until the city put out before the voters for a Quality of Life Bond Issue back in 2012, you still were not around. How come I read the news in hand and I was aware that the arena was also for sports, and this is before I voted for Proposition 2. David Stout is the liar here and he is only whining because the arena falls in his district, what has David Stout as a politician done for the better of all El Paso? NOTHING, NADA!
    I don’t like FAKE politicians that don’t make any difference on improving the betterment of our city,by pretending to help the negative few that don’t want to change their lives for the better.We have one lady in city council that replaced Jim Tolbert and she turns out to be another Lily Limon whom we voted out of city council. The city hires consultants to find and locate an area that is suitable to build the downtown arena,one that would be the least problem for having to relocate residents. The one area with the minimal population for that matter and they consultants found the perfect location. In downtown El Paso right next to the Judson F. Williams Convention Center! An area that was and has been neglected for over 20 years by it’s own property owners, So where was David Stout and the historians? David Stouts comes out on the News and says that he’s all for the downtown revitalization and the downtown arena is part of the downtown revitalization process.
    This Durangito name is Non Sense! it wasn’t called like that two years ago! it was coined as Durangito to make people feel sorry for those that refuse to move out.True that the Union Plaza neighborhood site was site of the first European settlement the Paso Del Norte which included the Ponce De Leon ranch.
    That historical treasure was removed a long time ago when the railroads arrived in El Paso in 1881, from there came the brothel whorehouse,the Chinese laundry and other interesting stuff to entertain the high rollers and drifters. All that’s gone now except some old dilapidated buildings that no one ever cared about until now. You and the property owners had your chance to fix them up and it takes money to get the ball rolling and make things happen. So stop your whining! it’s not the end of the world yet, there’s another neighborhood across Paisano Street that looks just like the one you are trying to save. It’s bigger and thriving it also has 200 or more times the people that the Union Plaza has or once had.
    El Paso needs to remove David Stout and Texas state senator Jose Rodriguez from office, I hear Sergio Lewis want’s his old job back at county commissioner. I also voted for Mary Gonzalez and I wont be voting for her ever again.If El Paso ever has a good chance of bringing Amazon to the city,you are scarring Amazon and other industry with good job potentials away.

    • Allberto, that was a pretty prolific diatribe. Does your keyboard still have power? How about listing all the places you got your information? Be cause you certainly didn’t get any of it from “factual or reliable” sources. Sleep soundly, my friend.

      • Skydiverr,YES! my keyboard has plenty of usage left to reply to your wisecrack!And I don’t see the point in trying to save an eyesore from the wrecking ball.
        Where were you 20 years ago? surely you weren’t fixing up or repairing the old buildings in the Union Plaza.Not even passing the hat around for a donation to help buy building materials like cement,plaster,paint,glass for window repairs or wood including work laborer cost.And neither were the property owners in regards to fixing up the problem in the first place.
        It’s people like you and a few other naysayers that are determined to keep some parts of El Paso looking pretty third world. I want my city to move forward and fix itself up and not remain looking sleazy like those in some parts of the Union Plaza.And a unanimously voter approved downtown arena is what we asked for,we didn’t ask for your anti arena opinion,and that’s your answer.
        And FYI,I don’t get any college credits to protest the arena,I got my factual sources the same place the other 71% of El Paso voters got theirs. WE VOTED YES! my dear buddy.

    • You are ignorant or just don’t want to see the facts. Educate yourself on the truth about the Arena lie.

    • TLDR; Too long didn’t read.

  6. David Stout is not even from El Paso Texas! he should go back to his home state of Wyoming and take his politics with him, downtown El Paso happens to be in his precinct. And he want’s to derail the voter approved downtown arena by trying to save an eyesore neighborhood that has no economical value and is a least desirable city attraction. All but one inhabitant resident has already moved out from the arena footprint,while the others have relocated to way better appartments or homes.
    David Stout now has a editorial in the El Paso Times, same commentary lie like the one above,that’s about it.El Paso deserves better than the out of towner commissioner David Stout and I never have read anything about David Stout helping with the revitalization of downtown. Downtown El Paso, a place that was abandoned after all the better stores and business closed or shut down for good and the area was deserted and became isolated after 6 PM. After sundown the streets would become empty, crime of all sorts would take over downtown El Paso,and this went on for many years,do we want to go back to those days? the answer should be NO!
    Many downtown buildings became vacant for years,and many are still vacant today,take the American Furniture,the Kress building and many other abandon buildings.Is this what commissioner David Stout represents, BLIGHT and dilapidated run down buildings!
    I’m glad to see many new changes taking place with the ongoing downtown revitalization process considering that we now lost JC Penny’s. Other stores or business will eventually move in to take it’s place,but that could take decades and the downtown arena will also take a long time to build.That is if David Stout, Jose Rodriguez and the naysayers keep getting in the way,they stand against downtown El Paso’s future economic development,growth,prosperity and a major comeback. The whole area needs positive change,progress and tons of work including improvement and these people just don’t seem to want to get it. Blind Negativism and stubbornness! Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right!

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