The Motives of Useful Idiot David Karlsruher

I have been writing consistently about the people who are driving public policy in El Paso and how they have been relying on various levels of useful idiots to manipulate public perception with the help of an incompetent news media. The political undercurrent they create is designed to manipulate the electorate into voting into office those who support their public agenda. Initially the political manipulators had a small measure of success when they managed to hoodwink the electorate into putting Ray Caballero into office in 2001. Little did they know then that social media would emerge to drive social activism against them. Ray Caballero was summarily dismissed from office and he high-tailed it out of town.

But they learned from their mistakes, especially when it came to online activism.

Unfortunately Ray Caballero’s legacy as a useful idiot for the horde gave rise to the stable of useful idiots that for some time now has dominated the public policy agenda in El Paso. Among them are Susie Byrd, Veronica Escobar, Emanuel Anthony Martinez, Beto O’Rourke and Steve Ortega. From this initial group, additional useful idiots were incubated and launched unto the political scene. The new batch includes Cortney Niland and to a lesser extent Ann Morgan Lilly and Susan Austin among others that were unable to attain office but would undoubtedly make an appearance later on. In addition there are the side-kicks that occasionally peek out to help the manipulators when desperately needed but for the most part these side-kicks do what they do best; feed off of the public trough for their own personal micro-agendas. The stable of side-kicks include but are not limited to Eliot Shapleigh and Jose Rodriguez.

However politics is about friendly faces because ultimately the dirty-deeds must be handled by disposable useful idiots that are fed along, as long as they do as they are told and summarily dismissed when no longer useful. They are strung along with the notion that someday, they too will wield power, however symbolic it might be. They are driven by the will that one day they will hold title, akin to nobility in a city where upper-mobility is defined by being called “Sir”, or “Ma’am”, and for the lucky few “your honor”. Some rise to the occasion while others become disenchanted or wiser and others are just discarded along the way. The ones that belong to this second echelon are ones like Jaime Abeytia that sometimes are rewarded with government jobs although under criminal indictment and others that just simply vanish from the scene.

David Karlsruher didn’t seem to fit the useful idiot mold when he first appeared on the scene. Mostly, he and his family seemed to be your typical El Pasoan trying to make it in a city so corrupt that the recent public corruption cleansing was nothing more than a band-aid applied to a deadly gushing wound.

To those that have never experienced it, El Paso is akin to a pot of crabs – where as one crab makes a move to escape the other crabs grab on to it and pummel it until the crab is severely reminded about his place in the upcoming feeding frenzy – that unbeknownst to the crabs are the ones that are eventually eaten anyway.

To my knowledge, the Karlsruher family was not big fans of the Caballero regime. In fact, their initial support of my El Paso Tribune project seem to indicate to me that they were just as fed up with El Paso’s sleaze, as was I.

Because of David Karlsruher’s obvious support for the ballpark fiasco I’m going to focus this analysis on his family’s business with the city as one reason why they have seemed to have aligned their support of this latest El Paso political dishonesty. Keep in mind that although I’m focused on the city there are many other government entities from where the Karlsruher businesses may derive their income.

However, before delving into the facts it is important that I point out that in order to survive as a business concern in El Paso you must be willing to play by the rules of those in power. Before anyone gets too excited, let me explain.

Except for very few local businesses in El Paso, the reality is that most businesses in El Paso are nothing more than a paycheck for the owner and their family. A business is supposed to be a growth concern where the business not only provides for the owners but it also continues to grow whereby the income increases the owner’s net worth. Look closely at most El Paso businesses and with few exceptions you will notice that many are nothing more than barely a living-wage paycheck for the owners.

For the so-called creative class business; the engineers, the programmers and the architects it is even more difficult to operate much less grow in El Paso where the creative-based businesses are almost completely dependent on government largess for revenues. Without government monies, these businesses are not sustainable in the El Paso economy. The “creative class” type of business was also the talk of the town in 2006 based on the notion perpetuated by Richard Florida.

I fully expect to be heavily criticized for this blog post for many reasons, notwithstanding the fact that I’m bringing into the fray David Karlshruher’s family business. I thought long and hard about whether to write this piece and how to address the myriad of issues it brings up. One of the facts that I need to address on the onset, is that my business and thus my income is one of the “creative class” types of businesses. In fact, my business and Beto O’Rourke’s business started out at about the same time and our growth paralleled initially until we took two different routes for growth. I thought I could continue to grow my business and criticize the government at the same time.

This experience not only gives me an insight into the realities of the creative types of businesses but it also gives me first-hand experience into how the politics of the city intervene to stagnate or propel a creative business to grow. The fact is that unless you are willing to silently go along with the flow, an engineering type business cannot be a growing concern in El Paso without towing the political line.

Therefore, I want to be clear that I am not condemning the Karlsruher family business for silently marching along in order to sustain their enterprise. Had things been different and I had chosen to focus on my business rather than activism I cannot state that I wouldn’t have made the same decision. In fact, I’m not a native of El Paso and as such it is easy for me to leave the city. The Karlsruher’s, on the other hand, have a long time presence in the city. John and Eileen are early 1970’s graduates of Coronado High School and David graduated in 1996. Their lives revolve around El Paso.

Therefore I write this piece to explain and demonstrate how it is that the El Paso public agenda is being driven by manipulating both the public perception and the electorate. Of course, in so doing I realize that many will find it hypocritical of me to acknowledge that if I were in the same shoes I would be doing the exact same thing or that I consider myself to be some moral community compass. For whatever it is worth I do not consider myself a moral compass in fact I believe that my personal life’s circumstances have led me down roads I never knew existed much less contemplated exploring. I am no moral compass and I blog for the simple reason that I am mad as hell about the idiocy and the corruption that is El Paso politics.

I realize that this piece is personal for the Karlsruher family, although it is not intended as so. I can’t help that. The sole reason for writing it is to show how the manipulators are manipulating the community for their own selfish reasons.

It is also important for you to understand that I started to plan this piece months ago and submitted an open records request, on my own, to the city asking for a breakdown of business activities between Karlsruher’s businesses and the city before David published his blog about Emma Acosta’s own open records request. The two are not related.

I have never met David Karlshuher in person but I have exchanged numerous emails with him since at least 2003. That goes for his immediate family members as well. In fact David graciously donated $25 to my El Paso Forum project on September 9, 2003. Eileen Karlsruher, his mother, in May 2003 wrote a reader’s comment letter to my El Paso Tribune letting me know how “well written” and how my articles “appear to be well researched”. In June 2003, Eileen Karlsruher wrote to me to let me know how she disagreed with my “description” of Susan Austin. I had written a piece on how I thought Susan Austin was part of the “artsy-fartsy crowd”. Eileen added that she felt it was “unfair” of me to “characterize someone and their abilities before you actually see them in action”.

Through the years, David Karlsruher has supported and at times has submitted leads for me to follow up on. On August 5, 2003, David congratulated me on my article in regards to the EPISD/PAC debacle and submitted a follow up article on PACS for me to publish as a guest column. In 2009, we briefly explored running the Newspaper Tree together after Keith Mahar had decided to close it down. David Karlsruher had taken over as the content manager for the Newspaper Tree.

In 2005, with Susan Austin in office and an apparent friendship between her and the Karlsruher family things seemed to change. Keep in mind that Eileen Karlsruher worked for Hunt Building Corporation from 1991 to 1996, before going to work for the family business. John Karlsruher started CSA Design Group in 1991. One of the general partners in the ballpark fiasco is the Hunt family.

Around 2003, David Karlsruher worked for the National Association of Realtors in some sort of lobbyist capacity.

In 2004, Joyce Wilson was hired as El Paso’s first city manager and somewhere in that time frame Eileen Karlsruher developed a friendship with her.

In November 2006, David launched his own blog. At about the same time, from May 2007 until August 2008, David was on the radio doing political talk radio commentary on KHRO and KQBU.

In 2008 and 2009 he also wrote commentary for the Newspaper Tree.

In December of 2009, David Karlsruher launched a campaign and ran for County Commissioner.

During this time frame it is important to also note that the “progressives” including the Glass-Beach debacle and the Richard Florida urban-renewal public agenda became the city’s cause célèbre. This all ties into the idea that the “creative class” businesses like Karlsruher’s engineering firm were the economic future.

In fact, Eileen Karlsruher was one of the 30 attendees to the Richard Florida seminar in El Paso in February 2006. Other well-known attendees were Susie Byrd, Veronica Escobar, Carlos Gallinar, Marina Monsivais and Morris Pittle.

In November 2009, David Karlsruher wrote a piece on his blog about Stuart Leeds. Subsequently he was sued and as a result of the lawsuit, David Karlsruher published, in 2011, a public apology on his blog to Stuart Leeds for defaming Leeds.

Although the notion of downtown revitalization by displacement has been around since the Caballero administration it wasn’t until 2010 when it actually took hold in El Paso a result of the complicity of Byrd and Ortega, among others with the baseball stadium scam.

By 2011 a full-court press was on, manipulating public perception through social media and the airwaves with Tricia Martinez, Darren Hunt’s domestic partner and David Karlsruher and Jaime Abeytia. Since then, all of them have been tag-teaming on the airwaves and online supporting the baseball stadium, except for Abeytia who is assumed to have retired from blogging, after landing a taxpayer funded job at the county.

On February 21, 2012; Cortney Niland appointed Eileen to the Ad Hoc Charter Advisory Committee. The committee was established by the city on July 13, 2011 to “Review recommendations submitted by the City Council and staff and those made upon their own initiative, and consider public input regarding potential amendments to the Charter”. It is important to note that according to the city’s website, this committee is not subject to the “financial disclosure requirements” of the city code.

What does all of this have to do with the ongoing fiascos in El Paso and David Karlsruher’s usefulness as a useful idiot? In school I learned about cause and effect. In another life I participated in developing matrixes, better known as pattern analysis, to track actions and their results. A timeline is essential for pattern analysis. Financial tracking is invariably an important result to any action. In order for me to understand the El Paso political shenanigans and to see if a pattern developed I needed to create and analyze the pattern analysis for the whole El Paso political scene.

A pattern analysis is made up of numerous individual components that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle that creates a roadmap we can follow. David’s obvious support for the Foster-Hunt debacle magnified, for me, their small piece in the overall matrix that I have developed so far. The Karlsruher component is a very small piece of the puzzle but it gives us an insight into how the overall political scam is being perpetuated and how control seems to be established.

Take a look at the timeline I have developed above and now tie it in to the income being derived by Karlsruher’s business from the city.


As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case a million dollars.

Late last month I filed an open records request with the city asking for “total amounts paid by the City of El Paso, by year from 2001 through 2012 to CSA Engineers & Constructors, CSA Design Group, CSA Design Group, Inc., and or Karlsruher Inc. dba CSA Constructors. Last Thursday the city responded with a breakdown for CSA Design Group.

According to the response I received from the city, the Karlsruher business enterprises did not do any business with the city from 2001 until 2007. In 2008, the Karlsruhers received a check in the amount of $10 from the city. It is impossible to determine the reason for the check from the information I have but I assume it was a reimbursement of some type. It wasn’t until 2010 that the Karlsruher’s businesses started generated revenues from the city. In 2010 they received $31,300. In 2011, the city paid CSA Design Group $145,575.01. By 2012, the Karlsruher’s had generated $314,954.96 from the city, including $138,069.95 that year.

This year, 2013, according to public records, the Karlsruher’s have been awarded two projects. The first the Barker Road Street and Drainage projected for $691,557.35 awarded to them on February 26, 2013. The second project so far awarded to them was on April 23, 2013 for Edgemere Park in the amount of $218,029.07. So far, the Karlsruher business entities have been awarded $909,586.42 in city business in 2013.

It is also interesting to note that the Barker Road project was controversial in that the city staff had recommended against awarding the contract to Karlsruher, although they were the lowest bidders. The problem arose because through a “mathematical error” by Karlsruher, the city staff had recommended that they be deemed as an “unresponsive” bidder and their bid be discarded. The bid was then escalated to city council on February 26, 2013 as a “review” bid. On that date, city council voted five to three in favor of awarding the contract to Karlsruher’s business. Representatives Acosta, Byrd, Lilly, Noe and Ortega voted to award the contract to them, while Holguin, Niland and Robinson voted not to award the contract to them. Acosta had made the motion and it was seconded by Robinson.

To date, Karlsruher’s business has accepted $314,954.96 in city business and has at least $909,586.42 in the pipeline for 2013. This brings the total to $1,224,541.30 from the city to them.

It is unlikely they have done anything illegal but looking at the cause-and-effect of David’s online support for the ballpark fiasco, the family’s connections to Hunt and others, and how the business exponentially increased its business directly with the city in a two year period coupled together with the timeline of the connections creates a pattern that cannot be ignored.

I do not know what the motives for David Karlsruher’s continued denigration of those who oppose the ballpark fiasco is and his part in the concerted propaganda efforts to mask the truth about the ballpark fiasco are, but the monetary trail simply cannot be ignored.