Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Glad Beto Is Running
Most of you probably followed the excellent series in the El Paso Times about public corruption. You don’t even have to read between the lines to see the hand of current U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the midst of it. It’s good that Beto O’Rourke is running for that seat. Beto recently said how his support for conservation and environmental protection in our City and region is personal to him in an elpasonaturally blog post, Caring for the Environment and Conservation is Personal with Beto O'Rourke. Be sure to check out the Beto for Congress media page.
Silvestre’s brother is, of course, Chuy Reyes, the General Manager of the El Paso County Water Improvement District #1 that elpasonaturally has begun saying more about. The Reyes boys were behind a recent successful effort to pass a bill which disenfranchised 75,000 El Paso voters in the WID and placed the control of El Paso water into the hands of a few powerful farmers. Note the recent big donors to Silvestre Reyes: Skov and Stubbs. Now see who is on the Board of Directors of the Water Improvement District: Skov and Stubbs.
I recently was able to see a voting certificate of a member of the WID. This person registered late and yet has a low certificate number which probably means that no more than a thousand or less persons can now vote in the Water Improvement District as the result of Sen. Jose Rodriguez’s infamous bill. The voting card is valid for only one year and, after that, the voter will need to furnish ID and proof of ownership (water) in order to vote again. There are only two places for early voting. In short, the WID with the help of Sen. Jose Rodriguez and others has made it very difficult for the remaining voters to vote. I have emailed Mr. Jesus “Chuy” Reyes an open records request under the laws of the State of Texas asking for the current voting registration rolls. He has acknowledged receipt of my email.
Stay tuned to elpasonaturally for more on the large farmers who run EPWID and why your Public Service Board needs to be far more accountable to all of you – citizens of El Paso – the Public.
Still no word about the Sierra Club petition for an injunction to stop construction on the TxDOT Transmountain project. I say this with a bit of trepidation because, just as I say this, something might happen. I re-published the El Paso’s Sierra Club Chairman’s request for donations for the legal battle. What may have held up U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel from making a decision on this injunction is a ruling that he just made on a Planned Parenthood request for a preliminary injunction to allow it to continue serving women under a State of Texas program for low-income women. Now that that decision has been made, perhaps action on the Sierra petition will come more quickly.
Also, no news to report about the NW Master Plan, methods to preserve the arroyos and a “conservation easement” to preserve the natural open space in perpetuity. Carlos Gallinar of City of El Paso Planning has been upfront always when reporting to the Open Space Advisory Board and when answering questions from the public. He has been very interested in Low Impact Development (LID) solutions for preserving arroyos. His interest and the Planning Department’s research about LIDs is just another good side benefit of the petition that seeks to preserve land in the Scenic Corridor of Transmountain.
In case you didn’t know, the City’s Environmental Services has a free mulch program. Mulch is a great way to conserve water by preserving soil moisture in your garden and with your landscape plants, shrubs and trees. Mulch is a great ground cover and will help control weeds. Also, over time as it breaks down, mulch will add nutrients back into the soil. Each of the Citizen Collection stations has mulch that you may pick-up. (Bring a shovel.) Environmental Services Director, Ellen Smyth, says that the mulch is free and that you do not need to show a water bill to get it. Environmental Services also has a great Mulching and Composting guide online. Be sure to read it.
Speaking about water conservation, there is still time to get a free water-efficient showerhead from EPWU. Details here. You must fill out the coupon sent with your water bill or download one from online. Do visit, bookmark and surf EPWU’s Less is the New More water conservation tips page. There is great information here and a number of ways to save money.
I wish that I could visit the PSB/EPWU website and not find anything too egregious. Unfortunately, the current first entry on the home page describes land in the NW Master Plan/Scenic Transmountain Corridor as “PSB-owned land”. No sugar coating – it’s a lie and one they just can’t stop telling. It’s City of El Paso owned land – your land as a City – not the PSB’s but only managed by the PSB. Some of us hope that the day will come when managing City of El Paso land will be the prerogative of Planning and Development. Some of us hope that the day will come when we citizens stop subsidizing developers and sprawl by turning $500/acre desert land without water into $10,000/acre land with plumbed water and sewer.
Finally, congratulations to Judy Ackerman, this year’s recipient of the Frontera Land Alliance “Rock Award”.