Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Run, Ann, Run!

Click on image to enlarge.

The picture above is posted entirely without permission. I learned about it when Border Pundit posted a comment to my endorsement of Lyda Ness-Garcia. It is the work of Border Pundit and I give them full credit. If my violation of copyright offends Border Pundit, then by all means I will take it down. I just couldn't identify the contact info and gain permission. Finally, please do visit Border Pundit and bookmark the blog. It's wonderful!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Song of the Day: Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream

"We do not live in a perfect world. Not everyone shares my views. Sometimes military action can be part of a solution, when we have already procrastinated too long or been too stingy to solve the problems in their early stages, when non-military solutions are still possible. In an imperfect world, even a pacifist can benefit from the presence of a strong, committed, ethical military, led by men and women of integrity and dedicated only to defending the helpless and being the last resort against tyranny." - Bright, A Pacifist's Memorial Day Pledge

Enjoy this Song of the Day written by Ed McCurdy in 1950 and updated here by Kris Shred & Traube:

Food for Thought El Paso

"In our society growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest, one that can - and will - overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world . . . we change ourselves."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Please Vote for Lyda Ness-Garcia

If you live in District 1, please vote for Lyda Ness-Garcia. If you don’t but have friends or family members who do, please urge them to vote for Lyda Ness-Garcia.

You know that I’ve agonized over this endorsement and thought it through as a conservationist and as someone who loves my native home town. Here’s how I reached my decision:

As you all know, Ann Lilly signed a letter in order to garner 858 votes from her opponents, Manny Hinojosa and Abe Peinado. That action disgusted me and disgusted everyone else I’ve talked to in her district. When I submitted petitions to City Council to save open space land, Ann pontificated that she was sick of petitions and that all of us should just go along with whatever our representatives (or, in Ann’s case, Woody Hunt and the Citizens for Prosperity PAC) want us to do.

I’m wondering. We have almost 1300 valid petition signatures so far – of which a sizable number are from District 1 – certainly more than 858 votes that Ann sold her soul for. Wonder if Lilly will sign a letter changing her vote to preserve open space now?

Remember how Ms. Lilly ousted her predecessor, Susan Austin? She told people in District 1 that she was the open space candidate. Open space people gave her money and went door to door for her. One of them told me – and I will not sugar coat this – “Ann Lilly screwed us and she needs to be kicked in the ass.”

Trust is important.

Ann’s opponent, Lyda Ness-Garcia wrote to her supporters: “My belief system cannot be compromised. My vote cannot be sold. You and I may not always agree on all the issues but you always know where I stand.”

I have been concerned whether Lyda was really firmly open space. The fact that some property managers and some in the building community support her did concern me. I asked her to her face with one of those business persons sitting at the same table whether she was for preserving land along Transmountain. She didn’t bat an eye and made it clear that her stance on widening Transmountain also meant no Plexxar and no Paseo del Norte. In fact, her stance on this issue and all others has been consistent with the newspapers and in the public forums. Her email makes all of her positions clear including the preservation of our open spaces and Upper Valley.

Being pro-conservation and open space does not mean being anti-business. Frankly, the fact that she wants to recruit businesses aggressively and reduce permits, fees and bonds is more the reason to support her.

Trust is important. So is leadership.

Lilly has flip-flopped while deferring to City practices that are unfriendly to business. Where was the leadership? Lilly refuses to debate, do interviews, appear in public. She does not return phone calls. Where is the leadership? Where is the representative who relates to the people she represents? Where is the transparency and accountability?

Ann goes with the money and Ann goes for votes. She will get elected by supporting open space and then betray her constituents. She will support domestic partner benefits until she needs to win an election. And, even after a Judge rules on the matter, she still can’t comment. Where’s the leader? Where’s the leadership? It certainly didn’t show up in the TxDOT Transmountain debate. Where’s the preservation? Where are the animal corridors? That’s something really to think about in this environment of drought and sprawl that is driving more animals into contact with citizens of El Paso.

One may have disagreements with one’s elected representative. My representative, Susie Byrd, and I sometimes disagree. She doesn’t hesitate to tell me that she thinks I’m wrong or that she disagrees. I respect that. I trust her honesty and integrity and count on her leadership. People in District 1 will be able to count on Lyda Ness-Garcia being straight with them. They can’t count on Ann Morgan Lilly.

Lyda Ness-Garcia is the conservation, environmental, business-friendly, transparent, accountable leader and candidate.

Early voting starts this coming Tuesday, May 31. It will end on June 7 followed by the run-off election on Saturday, June 11.

Please vote and urge others to vote for Lyda Ness-Garcia.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A must read - Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity, published by the Center for Health and the Global Environment Harvard Medical School, is a must read for anyone who has always known, but would like to see in print what scientists around the world have discovered about the connection between human health and biodiversity.  I am convinced that if every elected leader, every person in a leadership position, every teacher, every person working for the media, every religious leader, every business person, and every concerned citizen were to read this book, our world would have a much better chance of creating a sustainable future.  The direction we are taking now in this city, across the country and around the world is not sustainable.  Those with the power and the money to make a difference are hiding their heads in sand as they move forward with their plans for progress including those who talk about smart growth.  Smart growth sounds good, feels good and has some merit, but it has major flaws when it comes to how it addresses the need to protect biodiversity. 

If after reading the above you still need some motivation before you will click the link and buy the book watch this short clip on biodiversity: United Nations Video - Biodiversity is Life

Thursday, May 12, 2011

No Crowd Control in Murder of Mountain Lion

We have more details. The EP Times had a front page story this morning. Although it was slanted toward the view that the animal was aggressively dangerous and the policeman's (and TABC agent's) actions were justifiable, it still gave the salient facts: male lion, 4 years old, shot and killed at the H&H Car Wash by an El Paso police officer and a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Agent. (What was he doing there? Drunk lion?) The after-killing justification was that shooting the animal beyond the boundaries of the car wash could have meant ricocheting bullets that could have endangered people.

So, if people were in danger, why didn't El Paso police control the crowd? Reportedly there were dozens of people on the scene. See the KTSM video again. A longer video published by KVIA reveals little effort to disburse the crowd. The lion appears hungry, tired . . . and scared but not aggressive.

As officials waited for the first tranquilizer to take effect, crowds gathered hanging off the car wash chain gates trying to get pictures and video of the mountain lion stressing it out further and creating the very public safety hazard that the killing of the lion would later be blamed on. Remember - the videos show little or no effort to disburse the crowd or cordon off the area. It was a carnival atmosphere and the police (and I guess the TABC) did nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

A police officer and a TABC officer shooting their guns not far from a school seems to be a far greater public safety risk than a drugged mountain lion who would have been asleep in just another minute before being gunned down. I still want to know what the heck the TABC agent was doing there - did he have jurisdiction?)

Once again, it was just a few seconds after a second "stick" of tranquilizer hit the cat when a police officer and the TABC agent opened fire. All videos show an animal trying to avoid people and not an animal being aggressive. The words of the State Veterinarian ring true: "Ugh you idiot! No need for this!"

We can only hope that the City of El Paso, its police department, and others will turn to wildlife experts now and develop better ways to deal with similar situations in the future.

Both the police department and the TABC need to be investigated. How are officers trained? Is there a protocol for encountering mountain lions or other wild animals or do we just shoot to kill when wildlife experts are in the process of tranquilizing the animals? What jurisdiction did the TABC have? Why didn't police cordon off the area? So many questions.

At the end of the KVIA video, an officer is being admonished: "Don't talk to a reporter. Get back here." The cover-up had already begun.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

El Paso Policeman Murders Mountain Lion

Officials believe that police panic led to the death of a mountain lion at H&H Carwash yesterday. Texas Department of Health Veterinarian, Ken Waldrup, had administered a second tranquilizer only 30 seconds before a police officer killed the cat. A minute more and the cat would have been asleep.

Dr. Waldrup is nationally respected and vastly experienced. Tranquilizing an animal - especially one with lots of adrenaline running - must be done carefully so as not to overdose the animal. The animal had exhibited no aggressive behavior toward people even though she had plenty of opportunities to do so. This was not an aggressive animal - but a fearful one. As soon as the lion was murdered, a videotape shows a very angry and distraught, Dr. Waldrup, screaming at the police, "No need for this!"

Here is the link to the KTSM video. If later on I can get the embedding code, I'll put it up on this blog.

Writer, environmental advocate, research scientist and currently Education Curator at the El Paso Zoo, Rick LoBello made this comment:

"Lions need low elevation areas during time of drought to seek water from springs. Here in El Paso we are losing these areas of habitat at an alarming rate, hurting lions and hundreds of other species of wildlife. Perhaps this mountain lion was looking for a drink or simply hungry. I would say she was an adult lion at least 5 years old. All of her life she had done her best to avoid our species. Today she came to know us first hand and now she is no more."

Sierra Club activist, Bill Addington, recalls an incident 3 years ago when a police officer responded to a cat by shooting at it. Fortunately, that shot missed. The attitude then as now is "Shoot it. It's a danger."

I have made an open records request asking the police for the incident report, a copy of documents showing what kind of training the officers receive to deal with this kind of situation, and documents showing the current Mountain Lion Protocol. We shall see what they give me.

There will be more later.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Endorsements

Candidate Rick Schecter listens as environmental activist Bill Addington makes a point.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” So wrote American Transcendentalist philosopher, poet and, yes, divine, Ralph Waldo Emerson. (In case you didn’t know, “divine” is a fancy word for one in the clergy.)

I made some mistakes with my endorsements. I apologize if anyone voted in , early voting based on those recommendations. At first, I thought that I would just let it ride – but I can’t. To try to be strongly resolute would be an egregious and foolish consistency. Remember, I am making endorsements based on environmental and conservation issues although I admit that one can’t base things on one issue and politics and statesmanship require give and take.

There is just too much “baggage” out there with Ms. Mejia. I am the last person to judge. I’m the tax collector in Jesus’ parable in Luke’s Gospel (18:10ff) not the Pharisee. Governing requires getting along and relationships and friendships. I’ll back off my endorsement for District 5. Perhaps some of you in the conservation community will have some suggestions. (I’m posting this same message online, so comment there.)

The District 1 race is more difficult. Recently in an El Paso Times story but more especially in a post from David Karlsruher’s blog, Refuse the Juice, Lyda Ness-Garcia’s substantial debt problems came up. The El Paso Times addressed the issue and Ms. Ness-Garcia says that she is making every effort to make good on her debts and not take the easier road of bankruptcy. Good for her. She is articulate and has a good handle of the issues. She would be a stronger candidate if she would first take care of her business debts. She would then be running as a candidate who overcame her adversities. I look forward to supporting that candidate in the future.

For a long time, Mr. Rick Schecter, has been the champion of open space and the environment. He does his homework. He has integrity. It isn’t just that he should be the conservation community candidate, he has already been that candidate for a long time. He deserves our support. I endorse him.

Do know that I like Ms. Ware-Asbury and know that some in our conservation community will vote for her. I think that she is not as strong or knowledgeable about the issues as Mr. Schecter is. I also like Ann Lilly as a person and admire her service and appreciate her work in helping to preserve Arroyo 41-A. I think she will always side with developers first and open space and/or SmartCode second. It’s a difference of opinion and nothing more.

So, here are the endorsements:

District 1: Richard Schecter

District 5: None – wait for the run-offs

District 6: Eddie Holguin

District 8: Ernesto Villanueva, Jr.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chihuahua Earthquakes

Wulfenite from Los Lamentos

Are you following the earthquakes occurring just SE of us in Mexico? Two occurred last Thursday and two more occurred today.

Go to and scan the list for Chihuahua. Today’s quakes occurred just 85 miles from us. The epicenters were here.

I’m sure you know about all of the hot springs in Texas near Ft. Hancock/Sierra Blanca including the famous Indian Hot Springs (Map) just down river from Fort Hancock and a hand full of miles from today’s Chihuahuan quake. You can draw a straight line from Sierra Blanca to Indian Hot Springs to today’s epicenter in Chihuahua.

Just south of there are the wulfenite mines of Los Lamentos. Wulfenite is a lead molybdate mineral associated with lead ores and a secondary ore of molybdenum.

Something is cooking underground!

Song of the Day: Arms of El Paso

I've decided to borrow an idea from Frank Dubois who blogs The Westerner. From time to time he gets away from "property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture"and posts a Song of the Day such as Johnny Horton's 1951 recording, Done Rovin'. As you can tell, Frank likes Western Swing.

I'm a bit more eclectic and will begin with this movie video "Arms of El Paso" by John Fausett, meteorologist and avid hiker who recently joined our Sunrise Hiking mailing list. (You can too.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

City Council Endorsements

I certainly don't speak for all of the conservation/environmental community of El Paso but I wear quite a few hats in that community. I am Coordinator and Convener of Celebration of Our Mountains, recent past President and now Secretary of the West Texas Urban Forestry Council, Co-organizer and Coordinator of the petition to preserve the Scenic Transmountain Corridor, Organizer of the Sunrise Hikers, a Master Naturalist and Vice-President of that El Paso Chapter, Co-chairman of both the City's Open Space Advisory Board and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. I'm the President of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association and we care greatly about placemaking, walkability and the environment. I have written this blog for several years now and it is the descendant of an earlier blog and e-letter written for many years about local food and farm issues. I have some credentials.

Obviously conserving more of our precious land, developing sustainable water policies, promoting local food and preserving farmland, encouraging eco-tourism, supporting low impact development, attracting clean industries to our City to employ all of our citizens and prevent further brain drain are key areas of concern. The immediate struggle to preserve land along Transmountain Road next to the State Park has been a pivotal issue. The current City Council race is critical because we want representatives who share our values for conservation, preservation and sustainability. There is a real chance that the balance will swing toward unchecked growth, sprawl and development. Because of the infusion of thousands of dollars into the campaigns of Cortney Niland and Ann Morgan Lilly by the developers' PAC, we must elect candidates who care for people, real jobs and a healthy, clean environment in which to raise children, enjoy recreation, and receive the emotional and spiritual benefits of living in this part of the beautiful, natural Chihuahuan Desert with the Rio Grande, Franklin and Hueco Mountains.

Early voting begins tomorrow and continues through May 10. Election Day is May 14.

Elpasonaturally endorses the following candidates for El Paso City Council:

District 1: Lyda Ness Garcia. Very simply, regarding Transmountain she has made it clear that she supports "expansion through Resler but not beyond". She supports widening but also preserving the corridor - elpasonaturally's position all along. I like Ann Lilly personally and think that she is a real lady. However, her campaign has been principally financed by the development community and her "open space" credentials are not as good as she would have us believe in her campaign literature. Lyda listens to the conservation/environmental community of El Paso. Of all the candidates running, her views on all other issues are closest to mine personally.

District 5: Mayela Mejia. None of the District 5 candidates attended the environmental forum. However Mayela's experience at City Hall, her appreciation of small businesses, and her work with leaders such as Steve Ortega, give her the edge.

District 6: Eddie Holguin. This endorsement may surprise many in the conservation community. Eddie hasn't voted with us often but I don't think it's because he is anti-environmental. I will always remember him when a large group of people protested the construction of the border fence behind the Rio Bosque in the lower valley. Eddie walked over a mile carrying several cases of water for the demonstrators. On that day I knew that we had a representative with a big heart who cares about people. He explained at the recent environmental candidates forum that he is all for solar power, just not for making people who are having a hard time making ends meet subsidizing that energy alternative. Eddie cares for people first - especially people on the margins. The environmental/conservation community needs to begin and continue a conversation with Eddie Holguin. This guy is a thinker with a very big heart.

District 8: Ernesto Villanueva. This race is worrisome. Sergio Contreras is also a strong environmentalist; but I'm afraid he and Ernesto will split votes and make it a run-off between the very conservative, Malcolm McGregor, and PAC recipient, Cortney Niland. Although I like Sergio, Ernesto simply possesses more personal and leadership skills for public office in my opinion.