What do these numbers mean? A secret code? The amount of money about to be paid out in bonuses to city workers?
Nope. From top to bottom
- The bond total that the city sold to get the ballpark built.
- Population of El Paso County
- Number of registered voters in El Paso County.
- Number of people who voted in last election
- Same number as above, shown as a percentage
There’s a small, but rather vocal and internet-capable number of pundits who have given their spare time over the issues of leadership and governance here in the Borderland. Be they local or out of town, they pride themselves in doing the job the local media won’t or can’t: Writing, at length, of the ills and mistakes of our elected officials. And business is booming.
That group is backed up by a slightly larger number of individuals who actually go out and try and keep the city’s (and county’s) leaders in check. (Notice I did not say ‘our’ leaders…more on that in a bit) The second group regularly attends most (if not all) the meetings and attempts to point out the leadership issues.
It makes for good discussion, debate, web hits and internet flame wars, but nothing ever changes. Some cry ‘conspiracy’ and spend their time submitting Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests in attempts to prove exactly how corrupt the system was/is and show the public the man (or woman) behind the curtain.
And I’m here to say that each and every one of them is correct. Conspiracies are rampant in our city. And it’s all our fault. It is a conspiracy of our own making. And most don’t even care. Only the bloggers and those who sit thru so-called ‘boring’ meetings seem to care.
When we, as citizens, abdicate our basic right – the right to vote – we have ceased to be a democracy and have opened the door for all the shenanigans and ‘back-door deals’- real and imagined – that everyone writes about.
We can write all day long and none of it will matter, as the 6 to 20% made their decision and the 80 to 94% of us who were registered, didn’t even bother to show.
How bad is it? Sometimes the elected took their seats with the same turnout that one would win a Homecoming Court crown.
These are not ‘our leaders’ – they are the elected leaders of the 6 to 20% of those who bothered to vote. And these are the same people that are going to turn to their friends and those that they know to ‘help get things done’ in their precinct/district.
And let’s be totally honest here: If I get elected to a position, my first instinct is to turn to my friends and try to coalition build to ‘get things done.’ There’s your conspiracy. You’d think about doing the EXACT same thing. If you don’t admit it, that glass house of yours is pretty durn shiny.
But, once you’re in, you’ve got to uphold the office (I even think they have classes for incoming elected officials about this sort of thing…but I digress…) and work within the system’s rules. Sure my buddy’s construction company can bid, but I’d better let EVERYONE know he’s a friend and recuse myself from any vote.
But that’s not happening, and there’s plenty to write about. And with such a small electorate, and an even smaller group paying attention, the conspiracy continues.
At the end of the day, all the blogs and all the Facebook rants are not going to change one single thing. (Sorry, fellow electron wranglers) FoIAs will get stacked to high heaven, and the points made on blog sites will become ‘I told you so’s and those in power will continue to conspire, in both real and imagined plots. It will all remain the same. Unless one thing changes.
The 6 to 20% turnout.
Not the businesses donating money to candidates for yard signs and pachangas. Not the glittering campaign events or the block walks and door-to-door glad-handing. Not anything else except the turnout has to change.
That millionaire with the construction company who donated tens of thousands of dollars to elect a city council member? You negate his conspiracy with your vote. And you beat him if even one more of your neighbors vote. Very simple.
If you live in Segundo or San Eli, your vote is worth just as much as anyone in West El Paso or anywhere in the nation for that matter. You can blow up the conspiracy.
And don’t hide behind the disenfranchised excuses. The only person holding you back is you. Not your language, not transportation. Nobody but You. Unless there is someone physically holding you down in your home (which – I believe is a crime and/or a horrible 50 Shades of something novel) call the cops, then get out and vote. And if someone it telling you you’re disenfranchised, they’re part of the conspiracy – they want you to stay home and let the 6 to 20% vote ‘on your behalf.’
We cannot go back in time and unbuild the ballpark or unpave a street that was added to a list because the guy at the corner lot donated $100 bucks to that dude’s campaign, but we can sure as hell turn him or her out via recall and then VOTE someone else in.
On the cusp of what is sure to be one of the most contested Presidential elections in recent history; and here locally with the recent ethics complaints filed (and the sure to follow petitions to remove elected officials and possible replacement elections) it is vitally important that residents do more than just register to vote. They need to hit the polls in record numbers, from the school board election all the way to the POTUS vote.
But if you believe otherwise and feel like your vote no longer counts, you have bought into the conspiracy and you deserve the leaders you didn’t elect.
Just don’t start blogging about the conspiracy you helped to construct.