Friday, April 24, 2015

Please Vote for Rick Bonart

An Open Letter to District 1 Voters

Please vote for Rick Bonart for El Paso City Council, District 1. He will be an effective leader who will champion your concerns. Certainly I agree with all of Rick’s platform and you can read more about his views online as well as in the mailers that you have probably received. However, let me tell you why I esteem this man personally and know that he will be a great City Council Representative.

Rick Bonart is conscientious. He does his homework – thoroughly. He doesn’t skim through anything regarding the important policy issues that matter to you. He delves into them. He does so because he cares about people – taxpayers, ratepayers, citizens, people; and he takes his fiduciary responsibilities very seriously.

Rick Bonart has the courage of his convictions. He wants what is best for the people of District 1 and all El Pasoans. He never backs down to those who put politics and pettiness over caring and doing the right thing for people. More than ever we the people of El Paso need a really strong advocate on City Council – someone who knows that people come first and not special interests. He not only believes in open government, he has paid personally for that belief. As the citizen advocate on the Public Service Board, Rick was tireless as he looked out for ratepayers. He even opened up the selection process to that board to the public. For such transparency he was vilified by those who protect their power over the interests of the people of El Paso and he was not re-elected by City Council for a second term on the PSB in spite of the fact that he had been designated as the number one choice by a selection committee.

Rick Bonart is a doer and not just a talker. Many advocate for this thing or that. Rick rolls up his sleeves and makes it happen. He has helped to create recreational trails throughout the Franklins. He did the hard work to open El Paso’s first complete trailhead at the Lost Dog Trail. He has been the leader for open space and conservation for decades now. He was the first Chairman of the Open Space Advisory Board. He was a leader in the successful effort to preserve 800 acres of land in the northwest.  He helped to fashion the Open Space Master Plan and the stormwater utility including setting aside 10% of the stormwater fee for purchasing needed open space.  He worked with TxDOT and conservationists alike to develop a good plan for an entrance to the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park. (That entrance is scheduled to be completed early next year.) On the Public Service Board he introduced the need for potable reuse of water to continue to supply El Paso’s increasing need for water. He fought hard for a pipeline to the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, a key eco-tourist and local recreational wildlife preserve in El Paso. He always stood strong for open, inclusive and transparent government.

Rick Bonart built a very successful business (a veterinary clinic) from scratch and managed it for 35 years. (I can tell you that he was one very knowledgeable and caring vet because both of my cats were patients.) He recently retired which means he can give 100% to serving you as your Representative. He won’t be part-time and he will be wholehearted.

Rick Bonart is honest and ethical some would say to a fault. But honesty, ethics and high standards are the ingredients of his integrity. Rick doesn’t want the lowest common denominator for El Paso. He wants the best.

Rick Bonart is a friend. Yes, he is my friend but I’m not saying that you should vote for him just because he is my friend. I’m saying that you will do well to vote for him because he is a friend. He takes people just as they are. He doesn’t hold a grudge. He’s never judgmental. He’s not spiteful nor is he power-hungry. He strives to do the right thing and he cares deeply about each individual person. He is passionate about his views. Yet I’ve always known him to listen and to understand. In all matters he has a great sense of humor and he has the humility not to take himself too seriously.

Early voting begins this Monday. For sure there are some very good people running for District 1. Rick Bonart is your best choice.

Jim Tolbert

P.S. Please see his web site and his Facebook page.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Local Communities Should Have the Right to Protect Themselves from Fracking

It's unusual for the Drudge Report and the Huffington Post to run the same news stories or even agree on the top story. However, this morning they both headline the same study and link to the same Los Angles Times story: Man-made earthquakes increasing in central and eastern U.S., study finds.

What's the story about? The USGS has mapped earthquakes that apparently are caused by fracking for oil and gas and injecting millions of gallons of the spent water (and noxious chemicals) back into the earth. (Be sure to look at the map and the charts in the story.)

In spite of the growing data that fracking (or, more probably, injection wells) cause earthquakes, cities such as Denton, Texas may be denied the right to protect themselves from this dangerous technology. As posted yesterday, HB 40 is racing through the legislature of Texas, the state sponsored by the oil and gas industry. HB 40 would ban banning and take the right of local communities to protect themselves away and give it to the Texas Railroad Commission - the cronies of the oil and gas industry.

Texas prides itself as a state that enshrines the right of anyone to bear arms and to use those arms to protect life and property. Yet, the right of citizens to protect themselves against the greed of the oil and gas industry is disallowed.

With fracturing trumping democracy and corporations slurping up water from local communities, one wonders how long it will be until those rifles come off the racks of pick-up trucks and den rooms.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day?

It's Earth Day. It's good that there is a day to remind some that it is important to be kinder to Mother Earth. However that "some" are already in the choir singing about environmentalism and conservation. Hopefully more join the choir each Earth Day each year. The real work though happens the other 364 days of the year. That's especially critical now in the State of Texas which is sponsored by the oil and gas industry and whose legislators for the most part are bought and paid for by the oil and gas industry.

Forget the will of voters in local municipalities. In last November's election, the people of Denton, Texas voted to ban fracking in their town. Now House Bill 40 is racing through the legislature. That bill will ban bans. According to Nicholas Sakilaris: "The controversial bill gives the Texas Railroad Commission authority to preempt city laws when it comes to subsurface oil and gas operations, including hydraulic fracking." Read Bill that would ban fracking bans breezes through the Texas House

A Louisiana Judge handed down a similar ruling in effect banning bans.

What you should also read is the public relations propaganda put out by the Texas Oil and Gas Association. (Let's call them "Lola" as in "whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.")  Be sure that you watch the video. George Orwell could not have done better. 

Despite the above bad news, the El Paso Commissioners Court seems poised to pass an anti-fracking resolution. Judge Veronica Escobar favors it and the matter will come to a vote at next week's meeting.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Monday Links on Tuesday

[Monday (or, in this case, Tuesday) is "Links Day" with links gathered over the past week to online "stuff" to read and sites to surf that impact us directly or offer information about our regional issues. Please feel free to send me links to any conservation, environmental, simple living, city planning, energy and water, etc. stories that you have come across online.]

Water issues (always at the top of the list):

The Rio Grande:

Mighty Rio Grande Now a Trickle Under Siege

A glimmer of good water supply news for New Mexico’s middle Rio Grande farmers

California's and the West's water woes:

Nestlé’s despicable water-crisis profiteering: How it’s making a killing — while California is dying of thirst

Drought Spurs Protest Over 'Unconscionable' Bottled Water Business

Petition to Nestlé: "Stop taking water from drought stricken California"

Another Petition: Tell the U.S. Forest Service: Stop Nestlé’s Illegal Water Extraction

As water runs dry, Californians brace for a new way of life

You'll see more of this in Texas (and everywhere):

Hays County Water Fight Tumbles Into Committee

County to buy land for groundwater


The Facts on Fracking

Fracking is causing Oklahoma’s earthquake “swarm”

The Power of the Energy Industry:

Teaming Up with the Fossil Fuel Industry NPR’s Gas Pains

Monday, April 20, 2015

Update on Light Polluters

elpasonaturally has just learned that the ordinance favoring Clear Channel's wish to continue their light pollution has been postponed for four weeks. That's great news because it means more time to email your City Council Representative. Just remember to do it.

You can continue to get updates here at elpasonaturally naturally.

Light Polluters Ordinance Up For Action at City Council Tomorrow

Marcia Turner reminds us that our action is needed TODAY.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 21st,  City Council will discuss and vote on item 17.1 on the agenda.  This item reads as follows:


An Ordinance amending Title 18, Chapter 18.18 (Outdoor Lighting Code) Of the City Code by amending Chapter 18.19.310 (Nonconformance) to add an exception for upward directed sign lighting for off premise signs and by amending Chapter 18.18.120 (Externally Illuminated Sign Standards) to provide for an exception for upward directed sign lighting. The penalty being as provided in Section 18.02.111 (Violations And Penalties) of the El Paso City Code.

Marcia reports: "'off premise signs' means billboards.  Clear Channel is asking for an exemption from our Outdoor Lighting Code (Dark Sky Ordinance).  They are requesting permission to continue using upward directed lights on their billboards.

"They are also requesting a one year extension to change their lights to LED. LED lights produce the same amount of light pollution as the current lights, but will save the company money."

Clear Channel has had 10 years to comply with the current dark sky ordinance. 10 Years!

You can email your City Council Representative and tell her or him to vote NO. Verbiage for your email can be found HERE in red. Or you can just express your disapproval of item 17.1. Tell them "NO LIGHT POLLUTION. Clear Channel must comply."

Your representaive's email is as follows:

District 1 Ann Morgan Lilly
District 2 Larry Romero
District 3 Emma Acosta
District 4 Carl Robinson
District 5 Michiel Noe
District 6 Claudia Ordaz
District 7 Lily Limon
District 8 Cortney Niland
The Mayor Oscar Leeser

Tell your friends to email their representatives also. Give them the link to this post at

To learn more about light pollution and the benefits of "dark sky" read Paul Bogard's The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light." Just click on the book icon at the top of the right column.

Great News from Cortney Niland

Rep. Niland has a reputation for getting things done for the City - good or bad.
Two pieces of great news from Cortney Niland herself - not her office - herself. She spoke with her representative on the Open Space Advisory Board, Charlie Wakeem, this morning. Here's what should make neighbors, conservation advocates and all El Pasoans cheer:

Cortney is against any development next to Keystone Heritage Park. She will propose that the land be zoned as Natural Open Space. She was not aware that others were saying that the trash collection site may still be built. She said that both she and City Manager Tommy Gonzalez are making it clear that the decision to preserve the land is final and there would be no more talk about a trash site adjacent to Keystone.

She also said that she OPPOSES making any changes regarding the Public Service Board. She does not want the City to take over the PSB. She does not want the City to assume the responsibility of proclaiming land inexpedient and thus sellable. She said that, contrary to the rumors going around, she supports the PSB. 

In regards to the PSB the recent franchise fee fiasco was the result of a mis-communication between Council and the PSB according to Niland. (Council does have a liaison between itself and the PSB who is responsible for communicating information between the two bodies - but it isn't Niland.)

Both stances by Rep. Niland should ease all concerns about changing the status quo vis a vis the PSB and developing next to Keystone Heritage Park.

Two home runs.