Peeling the Onion – The Ballpark Bonds

onion-ballpark(This is part 2 of a 5-part series) Plain and simple, the ballpark fiasco was never properly vetted by the community. It was rushed under the notion that if the City did not act immediately they would lose the opportunity to bring the Chihuahuas to the city. Throughout the process, certain information trickled out that demonstrated that the ballpark was being rushed to fruition. I believe the rush of the process was on purpose in order to keep organized opposition at bay. If I am correct in my assessment, then there is only one reason to rush the process and that is because under the scrutiny of the community it would never have been demonstrated as a feasibly project to the taxpayers. It is, after all, the taxpayers that are funding the ballpark scam.

Anecdotal evidence and reports about the experiences that other cities who have built public stadiums have demonstrated, shows us that a publicly funded ballpark for a private group is unfeasible to the taxpayers of the community. I have yet to read a non-governmental financial report making the argument that stadiums are good for the taxpayers. As a matter of fact they all argue against them.

Many tried to slow down the process going so far as to sue in order to be heard. Unfortunately, it was always a David vs. Goliath battle as the city has the resources of unlimited tax monies to fend off legal challenges. Even then, a few battles were won but the corruptors were to well-protected by the El Paso Times and the lack of in-depth investigative reporting by the other news media outlets.

It came down to a public perception battle of obstructionists, or “crazies” as Joyce Wilson liked to refer to them, against well-heeled public “visionaries” attempting to make the city great.

The “crazies” were just out-gunned, coincidentally because of the taxes they pay each year.

The Ross Fisher report reinforced the previous report that exposed that the taxpayers had been saddled with $20+ million in additional fees for a political necessity. By many measures, the $20+ million is corrupt and likely criminal because it was never articulated to the taxpayers that the additional costs were the result of political favoritism.

However, the additional interest fees are just one component of many others that are just as detrimental to the city’s taxpayers. The city paid the El Paso Times for a building that is ill-suited for a city hall. The City pays annual rents to keep city offices operating. It does this because it gave up a paid-for city hall to build a stadium. Coincidently, or maybe not so coincidently, the City pays rent to Miguel Fernandez (El Paso Children’s Hospital and UMC) whom I have written about before and where Bob Moore’s paper is currently housed.

In its simplest form, the City gave away city hall to a few well-heeled individuals so that they could make money off of the taxpayers who coincidentally built the ballpark for them.

Make no mistake, when taxpayers are forced to build a stadium that then forces them to pay to enjoy it, it is fundamentally corrupt.

Let that sink in for a moment, El Paso taxpayers paid for a ballpark that certain private individuals get to charge them for the privilege of attending a game.

Let me reiterate it this way, many of you who paid for the ballpark are paying money to private individuals allowing them to make more money off, of your backs.

When we were pointing this out, many of us were labelled “crazies.”

When we pointed out that there were serious problems with the bonds and the financial shenanigans we were again labeled crazy.

The Fisher report gave us a glimpse into the shenanigans that went into the bonds. But only a glimpse. Where there is smoke there is likely a fire especially when you consider the City pays rents, the process was rushed and almost everything was done behind closed doors through dubious mechanisms.

Throughout the process, the ballpark enablers kept public information hidden from the community. Even today, Steve Ortega has public documents in his possession that he has acknowledged as possessing while refusing to release them to the community.

Imagine what nuggets of details we can derive from those if only the intent of the Texas Public Information Act was respected.

Tomorrow I will continue this series by demonstrating for you how the corruptors use intimidation to keep you at bay.