On January 3, under agenda item 13, our City Council voted 4-3 with one abstention to move the MPC project out of Duranguito and reallocate the remaining QOL bond funds to upgrading existing City facilities.
83 members of the public spoke during public comment: 30 in favor of demolition and 53 against. Among those supporting eminent domain, displacement and mass demolition was Dora Oaxaca, the wife of City Rep. Henry Rivera of District 7 and former Chair of the El Paso County Democratic Party.
During her three minutes, Ms. Oaxaca embarked on an angry rant, captured on video, in which:
1. She claimed that the first neighborhood in El Paso was Chihuahuita, which was established by Spanish land grant in 1818 as a satellite community of El Paso del Norte, south of the Rio Grande, decades before the river moved into its current position. By contrast, Duranguito was always north of the Rio Grande, in what would become downtown El Paso, and was occupied by a settlement of Mescolero Apaches starting in 1778, followed by Ponce de Leon’s ranch in 1827.
2. She claimed that the term “Duranguito was coined—it didn’t exist—I’ve been living here all my life.” Of course, there is irrefutable evidence, thanks to the research of Dr. David Dorado Romo, that the name was current at least as early as 1904 and for decades thereafter, long before the term “Union Plaza” was invented by local investors in the 1990s. Just because Dora Oaxaca admits she never heard the term “Duranguito” until the arena dispute does not mean that she is correct. She should consult local historians and the documentation in UTEP Special Collections before opining on this.
3. She took credit for bringing the 2024 Texas Democratic Convention to El Paso, ignoring the key role of Michael Apodaca and others, and claims that upgrading the Convention Center with QOL bond funds would somehow threaten the event.
4. She attacked City Rep. Brian Kennedy for what she sees as his refusal to safeguard the Texas Democratic Convention.
5. She blamed “oil tycoon” J. P. Bryan for killing the City’s arena plan, as if there were not many thousands of El Pasoans who want the neighborhood saved. I refer you to my and Dr. Romo’s letter to the editor in the current issue of the El Paso Inc.
6. She accused J. P. Bryan of buying the votes of Rep. Molinar and “so many others” because he contributed to local election campaigns, as if contributing to elections in other cities is somehow unethical. Did she forget that her husband raised $4,500 from out-of-towners in support of his reelection campaign in 2020? Never mind…
I listened to Oaxaca’s comments four times and still could not make sense of it because of her incoherence and blind rage.
OAXACA FILES ETHICS COMPLAINTS AGAINST BRIAN KENNEDY
Ms. Oaxaca is apparently so angry at Rep. Kennedy, presumably because he supports saving Duranguito, that she filed two ethics complaints against him for what she sees as a conflict of interest between his position on City Council and his past work for the El Paso Sports Commission.
Here are the facts about Rep. Brian Kennedy:
1. He has not received a payment from El Paso County since 2002.
2. He has not received a payment from the private non-profit El Paso Sports Commission since November and no longer works for them.
3. There is no conflict of interest and there never has been, even though City Attorney Karla Neiman advised him to abstain from the January 3 vote to abandon constructing an arena in Duranguito. I suspect we will hear more about Nieman’s “advice” in the coming weeks.
I am not sure what Dora Oaxaca hopes to achieve through her verbal assaults and ethics complaints but she sure is entertaining!