Tuesday , August 22 2017
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Tag Archives: el paso

El Paso City Council Votes Down City ID Program

The El Paso City Council narrowly voted against creating a municipal identification card program amid concerns that the measure would lead to the border city being perceived as the kind of “sanctuary” jurisdiction that has been the target of President Donald Trump and Texas’ Republican leaders.

In a 5-4 vote, the council voted down funding the program, which immigrant rights groups and advocates for the poor have called for since 2014 as a way for those unable to obtain a driver’s license or other state-issued identification sign up for bank accounts and access city services such as libraries. Applicants would have had to prove they reside in the city to obtain the card.

Mayor Dee Margo cast the deciding vote against the measure, explaining that he didn’t want El Paso to be perceived as “sanctuary” city – the common term for a jurisdiction that doesn’t enforce state or federal immigration laws.

In May, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4, which punishes elected and appointed officials for enacting policies that ignore federal immigration laws. The punishment for doing so could be jail time and the denial of grant funds from the entity in violation. Opponents of the measure have filed a lawsuit to halt the law, which takes effect Sept. 1. A federal judge has yet to rule on that case.

The Trump administration has also spoken in recent months about cutting off some federal funds from “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

“I do not want to give the inference that we are a sanctuary city, as we are not,” Margo, a former Republican state representative, said in a statement. “Redevelopment grants are critical to the economic development of our community, and we cannot afford to put those funding opportunities in jeopardy.”

Margo added that the cost of the program was too high when he considered the city’s other pressing needs like public safety. The city was debating a potential match of $320,000 with the county for the identification program, according to the city council agenda.

In a statement, the Border Network for Human Rights, which launched the petition in support of creating the program in 2014, said the city gave in to political pressure.

“Fear mongering ran deep in today’s discussion. SB 4 was invoked — even though it does nothing to prohibit a Community ID program,” BNHR spokesperson Gabriela Castaneda said. “The Council was threatened, intimidated, and bullied by racists, and, ultimately, it worked. This bodes ill for our city.”

The vote shouldn’t be a complete surprise after the council expressed concerns as early as April 2016 over how the ID card would be viewed by state leaders, according to a city report issued then.

In the past year, there has been legislation filed at both the state and federal level regarding ‘sanctuary cities.’ These bills seek to prohibit local government entities from having policies, ordinances, and rules that prohibit or interfere with the enforcement of immigration laws,” the city’s report states.

Proponents of the measure cited similar projects in Oakland and San Franciscoas examples of where the municipal ID program has worked. They also made clear that the card wouldn’t have the same benefits as a Texas driver’s license and couldn’t be used for travel or to get through a TSA checkpoint.

El Paso County is still considering an ID card for its residents.

Disclosure: Dee Margo has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • An El Paso-based immigrant rights group could see its hopes for a municipal ID card dashed after leaders there determined that issuing the card could prompt immigration hardliners to label the town a sanctuary city. [Full story]
  • A standardized ID would aid the homeless, indigent and help undocumented immigrants prove they qualify for relief from deportation under the president’s recently announced executive action, an immigrant rights group says. [Full story]

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

El Paso Tops WalletHub’s 2017’s Best Places to Flip Houses List

If you’re among the millions of HGTV viewers who’ve seen an episode of “Flip or Flop,” you’ve probably thought about the thrill of gutting a house and turning a five- or six-figure profit.

WalletHub’s analysts compared the 150 largest U.S. cities across 22 key indicators of market potential, cost and quality of life. Their data set ranges from median purchase price to average full home remodeling costs to housing-market health index.

“But before you demo that pink-tiled ’80s kitchen, you need a stern reality check from the Property Brothers,” WalletHub’s release stated. “Any experienced home flipper would caution you that transforming a real-estate beast into a bankable beauty is never as easy as it looks on TV.”

“In other words, don’t get your hands dirty until you’ve learned a thing or two about real estate, construction and how much damage your project could do to your wallet — and to the beam that’s keeping the roof from collapsing.”

Breathing new life into a low-cost property won’t necessarily return a buyer’s full investment and allow them to pocket another $62,624, the average gross flipping profit in 2016.

While home flipping enjoys its highest rate since 2007, according to RealtyTrac, the current homeownership rate is near the previous half-century low of 62.9 percent, which may translate to fewer potential buyers off the bat, depending on the location of the revamped property.

Flipping a House in El Paso (1=Best; 75=Avg.)

  • 48th – Real-Estate Agents per Capita
  • 40th – Avg. Kitchen Remodeling Costs
  • 3rd – Avg. Bathroom Remodeling Costs
  • 77th – Avg. Full Home Remodeling Costs
  • 80th – % of Population with Walkable Park Access

To view WalletHub’s methodology, click HERE.

Office of the Governor, City of El Paso to Host Small Business Forum

The Office of the Governor and the City of El Paso’s Economic Development Department are pleased to announce that El Paso will host a Governor’s Small Business Forum on August 10, 2017.

Governor’s Small Business Forums are designed to provide entrepreneurs and small businesses with timely, relevant, actionable advice to assist them in growing their business.

The El Paso Governor’s Small Business Forum will bring local entrepreneurs and small businesses valuable tools, skills, and knowledge needed to thrive in today’s fast-paced economy. This year’s Forum will highlight business fundamentals, attracting and retaining a dynamic workforce, and innovation and entrepreneurship.

Additionally, this event will provide a great opportunity to network and connect with industry specialists, government officials, service providers, and the regional business community. Lunch and parking will be provided.

Those wishing to register, can visit the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce website to sign up. The cost is $50 per person.

For more information on the event or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Aimee Olivas at (915) 212-1617 or by email at OlivasAP@elpasotexas.gov

The Governor’s Small Business Forum is made possible through the joint efforts of the Office of the Governor, the City of El Paso, Texas Workforce Commission, Workforce Solutions Borderplex, The Borderplex Alliance, Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, County of El Paso, and Destination El Paso.

WHO:           The Office of the Governor and the City of El Paso Economic Development Department

WHAT:          Governor’s Small Business Forum

WHERE:        El Paso Convention Center – 1 Civic Center Plaza

WHEN:         August 10, 2017, 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Third Case of West Nile Virus Confirmed in El Paso

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health has confirmed a third case of West Nile Virus in the area. The patient is a man in his 40’s who lives in the Mission Valley and reportedly suffers from other chronic medical conditions.

This is the third case of West Nile Virus confirmed so far this season and the second case confirmed this week.

“High temperatures, rain, and mosquitoes that are native to our area have unfortunately created a recipe for plenty of mosquito breeding and mosquito-borne diseases,” said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist.

“Although we did not have any West Nile-related deaths last year, we have had them in the past and we also have the Zika Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases to deal with, so we need to do everything we can to prevent mosquito bites.”

Prevention includes practicing the “four Ds”:

  • DEET – Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.
  • DRESS – When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don’t apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Rather, spray permethrin-containing products only on clothing.
  • DUSK and DAWN – Although mosquitoes associated with Zika can be active throughout the day, residents should take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours (from dusk to dawn) or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
  • DRAIN – Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around and outside your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.

Residents can also mosquito-proof their home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. To report standing water or mosquito breeding, call 3-1-1.

In effort to increase awareness about the disease and ways the public can protect themselves, the Department has added a West Nile Virus session to the list of presentations offered by the Speakers Bureau. Local civic and community organizations can schedule a presentation that will include background on the disease, prevention methods, as well as what people can look out for in regards to signs and symptoms of infection.

Presentations can be scheduled by visiting www.EPHealth.com and clicking on “Special Projects.”

City Manager Names Economic Development Director

On Monday, El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez announced the appointment of Jessica Herrera as the City’s Director of the Economic and International Development Department.

“Ms. Herrera has done an excellent job in managing the duties and priorities of the department. She has accomplished a great deal, not only in terms of economic development, but in marketing our local business and community. She’s a great addition to the Management Team,” said El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.

Herrera currently serves as the interim Director of Economic and International Development Department where she works to build and strengthen public-private partnerships to rebuild key assets of the city and help create an environment that supports a vibrant regional economy. Herrera and her team are instrumental in developing relationships with various local and Juarez businesses, as well as other cities in Northern Mexico.

In her permanent role, she will continue to lead the department, which works with dozens corporations and developers on expansions, improvements, relocations and job growth.

Herrera has more than ten years of economic development experience, including expertise on business recruitment, retention and expansion efforts, small business development, real estate and retail recruitment strategies, and successful marketing and communication initiatives.

Herrera holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on International Business from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Herrera will begin her new role with the City of El Paso effective immediately.

Powered Libraries Road Trip Ends in El Paso, Ysleta this Week

The Texas Library Association (TLA) Powered Libraries campaign / road trip through West Texas to highlight the wonderful, creative work libraries are doing in their communities, ends this week in El Paso.

The campaign tour has already visited libraries in San Angelo, Midland, Fort Davis, Marathon  to produce video spotlights dedicated to each library.  The tour’s final stops will be El Paso on Monday, and Ysleta on Tuesday.

TLA officials say, “Everyone is invited to join us to experience this engaging library tour, where cutting edge technology and old-school pastimes combine to create an exciting programming, power civic engagement, enrich economic development and foster a lifelong passion for learning and discovery. ”

Over the course of five days, staff from TLA and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission visited the five cities and six libraries – from one of the smallest public libraries in the state to an academic/research library nestled in the McDonald Observatory – unveiling the unique programming and collections each library offers.

Below is the schedule for El Paso:

Monday, July 17 at 11:30am | El Paso Public Library Sow. Grow. RepEat. Seed Library
Out in the western-most Texas town of El Paso, green-thumbed patrons can get back to their roots at the Sow. Grow. RepEat. Seed Library. Seed libraries are places that share or lend seeds. Urban farmers can “check-out” seeds to grow themselves and return seeds to the library once they have harvested the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor to share with others.

The program provides an alternative to genetically modified seeds, increases biodiversity and plant resilience, and reconnects El Paso residents with their food systems. The library offers classes and partners with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension El Paso Master Gardeners to share best practices and time-tested tricks to ensure a successful harvest for even the brownest of thumbs.

El Paso, TX
Monday, July 17 at 3:30pm | University of Texas 
– El Paso Image Collections
The University of Texas El Paso provides innovative services, programs, and resources that support the school’s mission of education, research, scholarship, and community service. The library is the home to a range of print and electronic information resources that meet the unique needs of its users in the multicultural university community and the U.S.–Mexico border region.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the C. L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department features impressive archival and photographic collections including the Chicano Collection, the Judaica Collection, the S. L. A. Marshall Military History Collection, the Southwest and Border Studies Collection, as well as collections of art and rare books.

These special collections help paint a colorful depiction of the people that call the El Paso region home.

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, TX
Tuesday, July 18 at 12:00pm | Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo Tribal Empowerment Library
Ysleta Del Sur Tigua Reservation Tribal Empowerment Library serves the members of the Pueblo through resources including youth programming and a specially designed Tuy Pathu “I am Tigua” curriculum blending cultural lessons with the foundational elements of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

The Tribal Empowerment Library houses more than 18,000 titles including a large native American collection and a recently added T’aiki Tiwa reference section. The library hosts a variety of intergenerational cultural activities that invite tribal elders to engage with younger members of the community to reinforce traditional values, methods, and culinary practices while instilling new skills to ready young minds for the challenges of today.

Video+Story: El Paso Named #1 Best-Run City in Texas

The City of El Paso is the best run city in Texas, according to the latest rankings unveiled in a study released Monday by Wallethub.com.

“We are on the right track. El Paso employees work hard every day to meet the demand for services, and the results of the study validate their efforts to advance our community’s quality of life,” Mayor Dee Margo said.

Analyst for the personal finance website compared the operating efficiency of 150 of the largest U.S. cities using six service categories, comprised of 33 key performance indicators, which were measured against El Paso’s per-capita budget.

“We are so pleased that our collective work is getting recognized locally, statewide and nationally. A few years ago, El Paso adopted a strategic plan based on a vision that El Paso will have safe, beautiful neighborhoods, a vibrant regional economy, and exceptional recreational, cultural and educational opportunities. That vision is coming to fruition and is making the difference,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.

The service categories include:

  • Financial stability
  • Education
  • Health
  • Safety
  • Economy
  • Infrastructure and Pollution

“We can learn how well city officials manage and spend public funds by comparing the quality of services residents receive against the city’s total budget,” Wallethub.com’s website states.

Video+Story – City: Crews Repaving Streets at an ‘Unprecedented Rate’

According to officials with the City of El Paso, crews are repaving streets at an unprecedented rate thanks to historic investments in street repairs and a new approach for awarding contracts for resurfacing projects.

A total of 161 streets have been resurfaced since 2013 and another 101 streets will be resurfaced by the end of 2018. A total of 54, including 13 that have been completed, are to be repaved in 2017 and 60 more in 2018.

This road maintenance treatment provides streets with another 25 years of useful life.

The City’s Street Resurfacing Program recently changed the way it bids out contracts for street resurfacing projects. Contracts are now issued for two years instead of one to allow the City to repave more streets and spend less time on the bidding process to contract out the work.

The Street Resurfacing Program will be 67 percent completed following the completion of 101 streets in the current two-year contract. The total funding amount for the 2012 Street Resurfacing Program is $48 million dollars.

Year            Streets Paved (Committed)              Cost

2013                                 34                                    $3,267,001

2014                                 63                                    $7,766,732

2015/16                            51                                    $5,140,203

2017/18                            13 (101)                           $16,155,560

El Paso Among “Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life”

El Paso is once again being recognized as a top U.S. city, this time being named among 2017’s Best Places to Live in the U.S. for Quality of Life.

“There is true value in being recognized as one of the safest cities in the country,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “Having a safe community is one of the main items families consider when they’re looking for a place to call home. I’m glad to see that this report identifies El Paso as a place people should consider as their new home.”

“The City has focused its efforts around safety and quality of place for several years now,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. “We know these factors are what families look for and we are proud to see that El Paso continues to be ranked among the best.”

A recent article from U.S. News & World Report examined numerous metro areas and identified which cities offer the best education, health services and crime rates.

The report highlights El Paso’s low crime rates and also recognizes the city for its notable ranking on the Gallup Well-Being Index.

 

To view the full report, click www.bit.ly/BestQOL

City: Pothole Repairs Increase; 15,600 More than 2016

According to the City of El Paso, crews are filling more potholes than ever before thanks to a new process that streamlined operations by embracing Lean Six Sigma (LSS) principles.

On average, about 500 potholes are being repaired per week by Street and Maintenance crews, which is 300 more repairs per week than in 2015. This results in approximately 15,600 more potholes fixed per year.

Prior to implementing LSS principles pothole repair crews conducted repairs based on public service requests.

Now, crews are assigned to smaller geographic areas and repairs are scheduled based on a geographic focus. These changes have reduced the time workers spend driving to their next repair and has improved time management, efficiency, and increased the number of potholes repaired.

“By overhauling the process for pothole repairs, we are using our resources more efficiently to keep our streets safe for everyone – pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists,” said Ted Marquez, the city’s Interim Managing Director for Streets and Maintenance and Parks.

The department has a total of 11 pothole patching trucks. Three of the vehicles are new. These replacement trucks arrived in late October 2016 and have enabled the department to spend more time fixing streets and less time on vehicle repairs that come with an aging fleet.

The City has received 3,587 pothole service requests as of mid-June 2017. On average, service requests are closed out within two weeks.

To report a pothole online, click HERE or call 3-1-1.

City of El Paso joins MALDEF, Other Texas Cities in Suit Against SB 4

The City of El Paso will be joining a lawsuit against Senate Bill (SB 4), also known as the Sanctuary Cities Bill, along with San Antonio, Austin, and several non-profit organizations.

This lawsuit is with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) who is covering the expenses related to the suit. There will be no cost to El Paso tax payers.

Despite El Paso not being a sanctuary city, the City is concerned with provisions in SB 4 that raise questions related to the compliance and integration of the proposed bill in current law enforcement operations.

The City of El Paso is hopeful that the suit will prevent SB 4 from putting the responsibilities and duties of federal law enforcement agencies on the back of local law enforcement without training and clear guidance.

The unfunded mandate is expected to put additional strain on the El Paso Police Department, as SB 4 will add an extra requirement on the workforce that is already seeing a shortage in staff.

The City of El Paso has a long successful history of working alongside our federal law enforcement partners, to add additional mandates on local resources will only limit officers from performing their public safety responsibilities.

Tiny Xplorers Adds STEAM, Parents to Interactive Care Experience

I have this motto I live by. It’s even become the tag line for my web page and social media accounts: Viewing the world through a cracked lens and a jaundiced eye.

With everything I have seen in my forty-six years of life, I have a unique worldview. One of the things I have extreme opinions about is parenthood.

Far too often I will see young couples buying video games for themselves, and not their children. I’ve taken my son to birthday parties that were more for adults, and less for the children. I’ve even overheard a conversation at Walmart, where a young woman was telling her husband that buying a tablet for their child would be a good way to keep that child out of their hair.

Look around; you must admit there are a lot of people who get parenthood wrong.

This past Tuesday when Chris Babcock, our Editor-in-Chief, asked me to visit a new business called Tiny Xplorers I was ambivalent. I thought I was going to be visiting a place where parents can just drop off their children so they can go out with other adults, or have a kid free day.

I was wrong and surprised all at the same time.

Tiny Xplorers is the brainchild of Nora Yokota. She started it after she couldn’t find a place for her son to play, and learn. It’s not just the children who are playing or learning here. It’s also the parents who come with their children.  Most day cares – which Tiny Xplorers is not -and children’s learning centers focus only on the child.

By this, I mean that you drop your child off and come back some hours later to pick them up. There is no place for the parents in that equation. Nora and her husband Jeff are changing that paradigm.

“My inspiration for this business surfaced as a result of the lack of facilities in the city that provided my son with the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning experiences,” says Nora. “I wanted to provide a place for families in El Paso, where they can interact with their children to help them build a strong foundation for learning.”

Tiny Xplorers focuses on STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. They have also incorporated digital media art into the learning model. What the team at Tiny Xplorers focuses on is creative play, rather than active play.

It is a rewarding experience and undercover learning. There are iPads where they can play and learn. A robot that they can work with and control. Blocks they can use to build with. But it goes beyond this. Tiny Xplorers also has rooms with specific play and learning goals in mind.

These play areas are something I’ve never seen in El Paso before. I love them, and the idea behind each one of them.

Let’s cover the rooms that Tiny Xplorers has.

The first room is digital media arts room that is loaded with Osmo. Osmo is an award-winning game system that will change the way children interact with the iPad by opening it up to hands-on play. That fits right in with Tiny Xplorers, getting them to think outside the box.

“Every activity has a little bit of thought behind it,” says Nora. “Literacy is such an important component of a child’s upbringing. That’s when language begins. A child that is read to will have a wider vocabulary.”

Tiny Xplorers has a wide selection of books that parents can read to their children. “I believe that anyone that can read and write will succeed. If we neglect that part of a child’s education, they struggle.” They also have a story time where the children can become active participants of what they hear.

Another room is the Band-Aids Hospital. In this room children are exposed to career opportunities, such as being a physician or vet. They get to dress up in costumes they have, and pretend to be saving a life, or curing diseases, and vaccinating cats and dogs.

“Band-Aids was done because most children are taken to the pediatrician, that is an environment that they are familiar with. Also, a lot of them have a pet at home,” she says. “So, often time they know that to feel better, they have to see a doctor. So we wanted them to have that experience, and utilize the tools that doctors use.”

The next room is the Hometown Heroes. “You know El Paso has just about every kind of occupation when it comes to security, like the police, DPS, State Police. We also have the military, the fire department. We wanted to honor all those people,” Nora says, and Jeff agrees.

“We hope Hometown Heroes takes the shape we envision it to be. The hero is the policeman that says hello to you in the morning, the neighbor that helps you with a flat tire. We wanted to emphasize the importance of everyone in our community.”

On their web page, there is a section where they can submit their hometown hero for recognition. After you’ve read this article, and maybe visited Tiny Xplorers, you and your kids can sit down and nominate a hometown hero via an online form.

All the rooms are community-based. “In my eyes,” Nora says, “this is a community center. It’s not a museum that sits in downtown with a huge facility. This is like the mom and pop learning center that is based on the community. That we hope is the community we serve. Let’s give them the chance to be the doctor or fireman. Let’s offer them the chance at role reversal. The learn a lot from mimicking the adults they see.”

And she’s right, they do learn, and Tiny Xplorers is out there, creating a new educational niche that is needed.

There is also a grocery store where children can learn to shop, wait on customers, and decide just what to make for dinner. “I wanted them to be the grown-up who gets to go shopping, get to be in the kitchen making dinner,” says Nora. “These are experiences that they are exposed to every day, they already have foundational knowledge of, and we wanted to add to that.”

Then there is a theater section. “Everyone is an actor or actress, they like to role play, like to dress up,” She says. They do. Kids are naturals at creating stories. Here, there are instruments, costumes, a piano like the one in the movie “Big” where they can dance and make music.
These are just some of the things found at Tiny Xplorers. There is so much that not just a child can do, but an adult can participate in. I don’t want to give away too much; I want you to visit! It’s a great place to be, play, and learn.

There are also structured activities. Several times a day they have some activity, as a group.

“We have daily activities,” says Jeff “These cover art projects, storytelling, theater, and a lot of hands-on activity that will work on coordination.”

These same activities are also incorporated into the birthday parties, and private parties they can host. In fact, over the two days I visited with Tiny Xplorers I was able to witness some of these activities. The kids enjoy them and are learning at the same time.

They also have camps planned for the summer. There is going to be a digital media camp, a Lego camp- I want to go to Lego camp, so if you’re willing to loan me one of your kids, I’ll not only feed them, but will help them build a castle.

They have so much planned. So many ways for your child to play, learn, and grow. And not just them, but you as well. You are there, in the middle of everything, playing and pretending with your child. You’ll meet other parents, and your kids will make connections with others their age.

It’s truly a rewarding play experience for your kids.

Tiny Xplorers is located at 11450 Rojas Drive, Suite #4. Visit them online on Facebook, or at 915-300-1220

Video+Story: El Paso At #10 on Resonance list of America’s 10 Best Small Cities

The City of El Paso along with Visit El Paso, an operating division of the City and Destination El Paso, announced Friday that El Paso has earned the #10 ranking on Resonance 2017 Best Small American Cities with populations between 200,000 and 1 Million.

“I’m proud to see our city being recognized time and time again,” said Mayor Oscar Leeser. “My focus as Mayor has always been on promoting the city and creating new economic development opportunities, and I’m humbled to see others acknowledge the great strides we’ve made in such a short period.”

The winning cities were unveiled at a June 14 awards celebration at New York University sponsored by National Geographic Travel, who will use the Resonance ranking and insights for future editorial and content projects.

In the 2017 America’s Best Cities Report, Resonance ranked the nation’s best large and small cities using a combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 27 areas grouped into six core categories:

Place – perceived quality of a city’s natural and built environment

Programming – the arts, culture and entertainment in a city

Prosperity –  employment, GDP per capita and corporate head offices

Product – A city’s key institutions, attraction and infrastructure

People – immigration and diversity of a city

Promotion – quantity of articles, references and recommendations online.

This is one of the most comprehensive American city rankings ever attempted—developed to quantify and benchmark the relative quality of place, reputation and competitive identity for U.S. principal cities with metropolitan populations of 200,000 or more.

El Paso represents the only location in Texas to make the top ten of the 230 ranked cities.

“This new ranking is fantastic news and will contribute to more editorial coverage of our vibrant and unique community by National Geographic Travel and among others,” said Bryan Crowe, CEO for Destination El Paso.

“Recognitions like this is proof that people are realizing just how great and competitive our community truly is,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.

For a complete list of cities or to download the report, click HERE.

Voters in San Antonio, El Paso Choose New Mayors in Runoff Elections

The city of San Antonio is poised to usher in new leadership after a Saturday runoff election that saw incumbent mayor Ivy Taylor defeated by city council member Ron Nirenberg.

And in El Paso, former Republican state Rep. Dee Margo  defeated businessman David Saucedo in the race to replace outgoing Mayor Oscar Leeser.

Nirenberg won 55 percent of the vote to Taylor’s 45 percent, ending Taylor’s three years as mayor. A former city council member, Taylor ascended to the mayor’s office in 2014 after former Mayor Julián Castro stepped down to become U.S. housing secretary. She won a full term the next year after a blockbuster race against former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.

Nirenberg had beaten expectations in the first round of the race last month, finishing 5 percentage points behind Taylor. A third serious candidate — Manuel Medina, chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party — missed the cut for the runoff.

While the race was nonpartisan, Taylor’s campaign used the runoff to deride Nirenberg as “Liberal Ron,” an attack that emerged after he won the endorsement of Castro, a national Democratic star. Nirenberg cried hypocrisy, pointing out that Taylor had the support of Van de Putte, the 2014 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

Toward the end of the night, two of Texas’ progressive organizations, Progress Texas and the Texas Organizing Project, issued statements celebrating Nirenberg’s victory.

“This election is a lesson in base vote 101 — if you want to win progressive voters, candidates need to demonstrate that they share progressive values,” Progress Texas’ executive director, Ed Espinoza, said in a statement.

In El Paso, Margo, who served in the House from 2011-13, won 57 percent of the vote to defeat Saucedo, a newcomer to city politics. During his campaign, Margo touted his time on the El Paso Independent School Board, when the body ushered the district back to accreditation and financial solvency.

Margo came just shy of an all-out victory last month after receiving about 45 percent of the vote to Saucedo’s 24 percent. Also in the running was city council member Emma Acosta, who finished third with 16 percent and was thought by some as Margo’s main competitor.

The state’s new “sanctuary cities” law played a prominent role in both mayoral races. In San Antonio, Taylor disagreed with the city council’s decision to join a lawsuit against the law, calling it “premature” and voicing concern that Gov. Greg Abbott could retaliate by vetoing funding for the Alamo. Nirenberg supported the lawsuit and argued Taylor was trying to have it both ways on the issue.

In El Paso, both Margo and Saucedo said they would defer to El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen on the issue. That represented an about-face for Margo, who voted for the Legislature’s 2011 version of the bill. The responses from the candidates prompted criticism from the El Paso Times editorial board, which said last month that the candidates seemed “unwilling to stand up for the city.”

Disclosure: Progress Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR AND PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

City Introduces New Technology to Improve Wait Times, Border Crossing Efficiency

Cross-border commuters in El Paso and Juárez will have access to real-time bridge wait time information as part of an unprecedented program launched by the City of El Paso.

“For the first time, the City of El Paso is giving commuters who travel between El Paso and Juárez the opportunity to access truly up-to-the-minute bridge wait time information through our new PDNUno.com Web site,” said Mathew McElroy, Director of the City of El Paso’s International Bridges Department. “This innovative program goes even further by making commuters part of the solution; the Web site is powered by the Metropia smartphone application, which gathers real time information from commuters who are crossing the border 24 hours a day.”

Border crossings in the El Paso-Juárez region are among the most active on the continent. Recognizing the strategic importance of cross-border commerce, travel and tourism, the City of El Paso is leading this regional effort to address congestion.

In the near term that can reduce bridge wait times and air pollution; in the long term information acquired through this program will inform long-term policy decisions and investment in transportation infrastructure.

To further incentivize use cross-border use of Metropia’s smartphone app, Metropia’s navigating capability have been expanded to include address-to-address routing which minimizes congestion in El Paso and Juárez.

In addition to building routes which minimize congestion within each city, cross-border navigation from Mexico to the United States will direct motorists to the least congested border crossing.

Metropia’s smartphone application includes separate wait time information for heavy trucks, private motor vehicles and pedestrians.

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