It is now clear where the Oligarch candidates stand on the Arena issue. Kudos to Victor Vazquez of the Westside Democrats of El Paso and Desirae Manzanares of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for getting the candidates for City office on the record.
ANALISA SILVERSTEIN, CANDIDATE FOR DISTRICT 1
Silverstein’s campaign donations and public statements make very clear that she is the Oligarchy candidate for District 1. She is the only one of the seven candidates for that seat who thinks that the “Arena” should be built in Duranguito.
Yesterday she sent out an email claiming that “$80 million has been invested” in the project, as if it were now inevitable. I have no idea where she got this figure and nor does anyone else. The City has invested less than a quarter of that amount, and most of the funds were for purchasing historic Duranguito properties, which are hard assets with value.
She also claims that the City has spent $3.3 million in legal fees “due to the lawsuit filed by Max Grossman,” when in fact it was the City that initiated litigation on May 2, 2017 with its bond validation lawsuit. She should get her facts straight.
In short, Silverstein favors displacement, mass demolition of historical assets, and a hugely expensive project that will increase our property tax even more because that is what her Oligarch donors want.
REP. ISABEL SALCIDO OF DISTRICT 5
Today, Desirae Manzanares of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce interviewed Rep. Isabel Salcido and posted the video on Facebook. After falsely claiming that she has always worked to reduce the City tax rate (she is one of the most intransigent tax-and-spend reps on City Council), she is then asked about her “Arena” position, to which she responds with a series of false or misleading statements.
Among other things, she claims that “in every litigation the City has prevailed.” This is false. The last I checked the City filed a petition for review with the Texas Supreme Court because it lost in the 8th Court of Appeals in El Paso.
She claims, disingenuously, that the 2012 bond ordinance specified that the Arena should be in “Downtown,” which is true; but the location was strategically omitted from the ballot that was presented to the voters in order to deceive them and she knows it.
She claims that “we are paying tax dollars for this litigation” that has resulted in “10 years of fighting.” Again, the City began the litigation and brought their legal woes upon themselves. The fighting began a little over five years ago, not ten years ago.
For her, “compromise” does not mean moving the arena to another location, but saving some of the buildings (or parts thereof) within the “Arena Footprint”–that is, destroying most of the neighborhood rather than all of it. Salcido is part of the problem, not the solution.
REP. CLAUDIA LIZETTE RODRIGUEZ OF DISTRICT 6
Rep. Claudia Lizette Rodriguez was interviewed by Manzanares on September 19 and the video is also posted on Facebook. Until very recently her position was that the “Arena” project should be moved out of Duranguito or cancelled completely, but now that she has closely aligned herself with City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and Reps. Hernandez and Salcido, she has changed her position completely.
She states “An Arena, whether we like it or not, is gonna happen because it’s been decided.”
When asked by Manzanares what she thinks of Duranguito, she responds “I think there’s a lot of compromise that could happen. I think that there’s buildings there that are definitely worth saving.” She continues, “I think that there is a way to get creative and be able to save as much history as we could, and have this event, or this arena happen, should it go there.”
When asked if the Arena should be moved elsewhere, she evades the question completely and laments, “We do lack that entertainment downtown.”
She concludes, “We need to execute. Whatever it is needs to happen already.”
So Rodriguez has shifted away from adamant opposition to this project, joining Peter Svarzbein, Sam Morgan and other politicians and ex-politicians who changed their position on this issue for political expediency.
DISTRICT 8 RACE
In her interview with Desirae Manzanares on September 13, Bettina Olivares, who works for Rep. Cassandra Hernandez, declares herself in favor of the Arena because she thinks it will spur economic development.
She wrongly claims that no one cared about Duranguito until it was threatened. She feels that the litigation and notoriety have exaggerated the importance of the issue. For her, the past is all well and good, but “we’re gonna be stuck in history” if we don’t look to the future, and in any case “our culture is within our people,” not our buildings. In short, she cares more about pleasing the Oligarchs than about displacement of vulnerable Hispanics, irreplaceable historical assets, and fiscal discipline.
Chris Canales is the senior staff person for Cissy Lizarraga and is thus also linked to the Oligarchs, but he stated during the recent Westside Democrats District 8 Forum that he is open to moving the arena project outside Duranguito provided the cost of doing so is not prohibitive.
As far as I can tell, none of the other contenders for City office support building an Arena in Duranguito. The Oligarch candidates are totally isolated and vulnerable on this issue, and they will pay at the ballot box because precious few agree with them, no matter what they think El Pasoans voted for in 2012.
Have a nice evening.