Open Letter to Peter Svarzbein
by Ryan Johann Perry
The Council of Dunces in El Paso has worked tirelessly to turn El Paso into a wonderful place to visit with conventions, sports teams, and other festivities. However, as El Paso slowly morphs into the equivalent of a kitsch airport kiosk, an important question to ask is Qui bono? This question is easy enough for a EPISD student to grasp and write a Common Core style essay with aid from the ever corrupt faculty and teachers in that quagmire of knowledge. More interesting is focusing on who is not benefiting, and like all other programs initialized by the Dunces, it is quite apparent- El Pasoans.
We have $9,000 dollar bicycles for rent, to drive alongside retro-cool trolleys that will go past the coup de gras, a stadium. Qui bono? How many El Pasoans are employed by your pet projects? Your trolley pipe dream is built by outside companies, I know for a fact that the prized conventions downtown are staffed by largely part time staff, unable to get enough hours to qualify for benefits, paid leave, etc. Ask me how I know.
Right before you ghosted the Council vote on the arena, surely photographing something authentically El Paso in Kern Place, you wrote an article in What’s Up regarding your goal of enticing film companies to come here, with various incentives. Qui bono? The City and a few food trucks.
While a hipster councilman is novel, the mentality elucidated in your letter is not. Your seat was warmed by another council member who prevented GAP Clothing company from headquartering here in 2001 as they promoted an “alternative lifestyle” . Besides bigotry, one has to wonder if the alternative lifestyle is one in which the handful of people who profit off this city would be negatively affected by a company who would bring CEO’s, employees and a boost to the economy that a million folklorico festivals never could.
More relevant to your letter however, isin 2006 Lions Gate film company opting to headquarter in Albuquerque rather than El Paso as our Council of Dunces would not provide them the tax subsidies that are part and parcel with a billion dollar company relocating to a new location. How many new jobs would that have provided? In your Whats Up article you mention the “390 million earned in 2016 alone”. These millions of dollars and this flood of film production companies is tethered in many ways to the short-sightedness of our city’s “representatives”, a short-sightedness that is evident even today. How many more companies would have seen potential in our city? Alas, this would have taken the power out of the City, would have created competition and have truly boosted our economy and our residents standard of living. But it was rejected. Qui Bono?
Our city has developed an affinity for making decisions that not only go counter to the will of the people but actively undermine them. It began with GAP, Lions Gate and continued with the baseball stadium.
This arena vote that you did not participate in will undoubtedly utilize eminent domain. These ideas of revitalization were around back when Beto O’Rourke was doing nothing, when the Paso Del Norte Group was writing about lazy, dirty Mexicans. This same Paso Del Norte Group that called O’Rourke a member, despite being a clear conflict of interest. He left before this was made public, however, failing upwards into a Congressional seat.
While there will be an inevitable backlash against the physical eminent domain, more problematic to me is the eminent domain inherent in the Council of Dunces continual commandeering of the very voices and choices of El Pasoans. Qui Bono?
Ryan Johann Perry