Saturday, November 30, 2013

More on the Proposed PSB Gag Rule

To refresh your memory read the draft of the proposed PSB gag rule communications policy found embedded in an earlier post.

Remember that the gag rule communications policy is the result of the failure to approve a water project for UTEP that was to be largely subsidized by rate payers. Keep in mind that the project was in essence a gift from the utility to UTEP - a violation of rules governing a utility. As a result of that failure Engineering Dean and Chairman of the PSB, Richard Schoephoerster wanted board approval of a "communications" policy drawn up by previous Chair, Ed Escudero, but never ratified by the PSB. The attempt to ramrod the UTEP project through the board had been preempted by another board member, Dr. Rick Bonart, who alerted the press. The gag order is meant to keep board members from preventing "official", "in-house", "good old boys" from getting their way.

At the November meeting of the PSB, both EPWU Attorney Bob Andron and Chairman Schoephoerster claimed that there is a distinction between elected officials and appointed officials. They were attempting to rebut the argument that, since any City Council representative can speak to the press at any time, their appointments can do the same. Unfortunately, the interpretation of law says quite the opposite.

First, the IRS makes no distinction between elected and appointed officials. In their document on classification of elected and appointed officials they give this list of examples:

"Examples of public officers are: the President and the Vice President; a governor or mayor; the secretary of state; a member of a legislative body, such as a state legislature, county commission, city counsel, school board, utility or hospital district; a judge, a justice of the peace, a county or city attorney, a marshal, a sheriff, a constable and a registrar of deeds; tax collectors and assessors; and members of advisory boards and committees."

The emphases are mine but you get the point.

Now read about municipal judges in Texas here. It reveals: "Most municipal judges are appointed by the governing body of the municipality (e.g., a city council), although a few are elected." In El Paso County we elect our municipal judges; but we are the exception not the rule. Whether appointed or elected, municipal judges have the same duties and responsibilities and are held to the same standards.

It is ridiculous to believe that PSB members, because they are appointed, should have a different relationship and interface with the public and the media. The real issue here is a little thing called the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States which guarantees freedom of speech and press. 

There is still one final reason why we must make sure that our PSB members are not gagged by the Shoephoerster-Andron Gag Rule (which I will henceforth call it). The PSB has a unique relationship with the citizens and City of El Paso. They are not just in charge of water and stormwater utilities. We have empowered them with the management of our land. Our Land - not anyone else's land and they are fiduciaries of it. In and of itself, this managerial responsibility of our land means that they are directly responsible not just to City Council but to you and to me, citizens of the City of El Paso. We should expect our land managers to have every right to speak out to the press and to us and not to be hampered by a gag rule.

Dr. Bonart has written a more positive policy - a real communications policy. Read it. It needs some tweaking but it is will lead to transparent governance and land management and not to good-old-boy style of internal control such as the one that has long been in place at the PSB/EPWU. One that operates behind closed doors in total disregard of the public and operates in a paternalistic, oligarchic style.

The Communications Committee will meet this Monday, December 2, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. at the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board Meeting Room, 1154 Hawkins Boulevard, El Paso, Texas to deliberate on the proposed Shoephoerster-Andron Gag Rule or to serve the public and recommend one more like Bonart's. This is a public meeting. Please attend if you can.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Catching Up: PSB Communications Policy

Read the history of the gag rule

I last wrote about the PSB's gag rule communications policy here. David Crowder reported about the contentious November meeting of the PSB in an El Paso Inc. story. I was at that meeting and spoke out against the gag rule communications policy reminding board members that it sprang from the failure of Dr. Shoephoerster to get approval of a water project at UTEP - a project that would have been funded by ratepayers. Shoephoerster called my allegation "untruthful" but the facts speak for themselves. I also took Bob Andron, EPWU attorney, to task for taking the communications policy into the closed doors of executive session in the beginning. (Shouldn't the PSB have their own attorney?)

Mayor Leeser again saved the day and the matter was kicked into a committee. 

The Chair has called a meeting of the Public Service Board Gag Rule Communications Committee to be held on Monday, December 2, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. at the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board Meeting Room, 1154 Hawkins Boulevard, El Paso, Texas. This is a public meeting. I might just wear a gag when I attend.

Catching Up: Stormwater Budget

Study this slide.

Note the $2.6 Million for park ponds. Read sod. Besides the acquistion of the Palisades and a smaller property, there have been no other purchases of natural open space - none from the list of priorities established by the Open Space Advisory Board. EPWU Stormwater officials have claimed in meeting after meeting that they are looking at land but have nothing to show for it except more money for sod and shrubs for park ponds.

When I suggested that the current OSAB members do not have the will to fight the trend to finance park ponds and not to purchase open space, a veteran observer agreed with me and added: "They [OSAB members] sit there while staff and the city attorney dictate to them.  They haven't said a thing to challenge the park pond funding."

Catching Up: Sierra Club and the Otero Mesa

On November 13, a number of us in the local chapter of the Sierra Club met to take action toward preserving the Otero Mesa. I posted the announcement of this meeting along with a video in another recent post. Judy Ackerman sent me this report:

"This Sierra Club meeting was extremely effectively orchestrated by facilitator, Camilla Feibelman, Rio Grande Chapter Director.  These Sierra Club teams set out to achieve 3 goals:  1) Actions that result in positive change, 2) Get politicians to listen, 3) Self change in the individuals involved.

"Announcing the meeting, Sierra Club President Lawrence Gibson said, “Otero Mesa, with its botanical diversity, archaeological and cultural sites, offers limitless and untrammeled vistas and a peacefulness unexpected in an area so close to the hustle and bustle of El Paso.”  Asked, “Why do you want to protect Otero Mesa?” Lawrence stated it all succinctly:  “This place is Holy.” 

"By the end of the meeting, all attendees participated and committed to future actions to preserve Otero Mesa.  The only disappointment was that, of the more than 20 attendees, all but 3 were the same old fart local environmental activists.  We need new, young blood to continue protecting our environment. Perhaps you have an innovative new perspective and methods.  Will your work and research help preserve natural ecosystems?  If so how will you do it? Have you been to Otero Mesa?  If not, stay tuned.  This project includes guided outings."

I too was impressed by Camilla and her ability to organize us and get us going.

By the way, I'm a candidate for the chapter board. I'm excited at the prospect of being able to serve in this capacity.

Catching Up: Flow Control

I have either been out of town or distracted by other matters. This and other posts are attempts to catch-up.

I recently wrote about flow control here. City Council members with pockets stuffed from voted down going forward with what would have been the responsible way to handle our garbage.

Sean Gillespie sent me this update:

"It turned out the money spent on new representatives outweighed the wisdom of the old council and three years of studies.  Sunland Park and New Mexico will be the recipient of the majority of West Texas' trash.  It is much worse than even this.  The army wanted to build a waste to energy plant for strategic security in case the grid goes down.  Flow Control was step one because you can't build it without the input materials.  The ridiculous part is the council said they would bring it back if the army has reason, but without step one they won't so we all suffer.  The next item I am going after is the "landfill exchange" which is sending copious amounts of El Paso city trash to Sunland Park that would otherwise go to El Paso's landfills.  It is also an incestuous deal that kills competition, disincentivizes recycling, and gives one company a monopoly on waste in the region a clear anti-trust issue.  I am looking into legal action which may include a class action suit involving other companies, cities and organizations.  Thank you for your support.  It was much appreciated.  It appears Dr. Noe and the new council that were 95% financed by Waste Connections got everything the company wanted that money could buy."

Sean has begun a new web site: Don't Waste El Paso. Elpasonaturally looks forward to the development of this site. Also follow him on Twitter.

The Friday Video: Dr. Jackson on the Built Environment

We talk a lot about doing something about obesity and diabetes here in El Paso. We set goals and say that we want to be a healthier community. A huge step in that direction would be to start immediately to implement Plan El Paso and to pass smart code and the drainage design manual. Instead, we obey the building sprawlers whose vision for El Paso was forged in the 1950s with interstate highways, V-8 automobiles, and twenty-five cent per gallon gasoline. Walking, riding a bike and other recreations are just not freedoms these big guys don't want us to have. It threatens even each farthing (one-fourth of a penny) in their treasure chests.

Here's why having more building and transportation freedom and less sprawl would be healthier for us:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Plan for Animal Corridor and Access to Tom Mays Coming Together

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) El Paso District will hold an open house for a proposed project to maintain connectivity at the Franklin Mountains State Park on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Canutillo High School, 6675 South Desert Boulevard. Map

The key word in this announcement is "connectivity" as District Engineer Bob Bielek explained at a meeting with conservationists, State Park and wildlife officials yesterday. I was among those in attendance.

Backed up with research and experience, Bielek showed sensitivity for concerns about an animal corridor, a pathway for hikers and mountain bikers and safe access in and out of the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park. The plan met with positive reactions from those in attendance.

A huge concern resulting from the expansion of Transmountain has been the loss of ability to get from one side of the park to the next. Hikers and mountain bikers alike have been anxious to get the kind of connectivity that is needed for recreation and the expansion of such events as the international bike races sponsored by the Borderland Mountain Bike Association. Connectivity is also essential to the expansion of new eco-tourist businesses in the El Paso region.

Those concerned about wildlife have been calling for an animal corridor for years. 

Finally, the need for safe entrance and egress from the park has been important for all who see the growth in park attendance, recreational programs and events such as the yearly Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta (which doubled attendance this year from last) and future chili cook-offs as preliminaries for Terlingua.  

Impatience to see a plan has grown recently and even led to a quick acceptance of what was called Alternative 4 - a plan with interchanges and a shared animal and motorist corridor - something Bielek pointed out was a very bad idea. Besides, Alternative 4 would have required excessive excavation on the north side of the highway. What do preservationists/conservationists want? Well...preservation and conservation. Alternative 4 wasn't that nor was a new road into the park across critical archaeological areas. 

Bielek is the man with the plan and here is a rough draft of that plan:

 Bird's eye view of the project. Click image to enlarge.

 The animal, hiker, mountain biker corridor. Click image to enlarge. Note deer.

The corridor will be for animals, hikers, pedestrians and mountain bikers only. No motorists and that change from Alternative 4 is most welcome. There will be fencing to channel larger mammals such as deer into the corridor and away from the highway. The corridor will be 10 feet in height and 40 to 50 feet wide. 15 feet will be dedicated to hikers, etc.

Access into the Tom Mays Unit. Click image to enlarge.

Bielek unequivocally said that there is no safety issue. He refuted the video posted twice at elpasonaturally. The video suggests that with a car coming every second almost, accidents will be unavoidable when turning left across two lanes of highway traffic. Bielek explained that traffic behaves just the way kids do in a kick ball game on the school play ground. They bunch together. People drive or come in "quantum" packages as they do when grabbing that extra six pack at 7-11s only to find numerous people have the same idea at the same time. Thus left turns into the park are safe for the foreseeable future. However, eliminating the left turn out of the park will decrease potential conflicts and thus is safer. "There is no question that permitting left turns from the park would be less safe than what is currently being constructed," District Engineer Bielek told me in an email. The turnaround for those exiting the park but wanting to go east on Transmountain will be the easternmost interchange with the Texas turnarounds - about a 2.5 mile "detour" - but a safe one to be sure and one that won't mean a costly interchange at the park.

TxDOT will provide the "brown" signs to indicate entrance to the park. Hopefully in time the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and/or the City of El Paso will create a more attractive way to welcome people to the park.

The creation of the corridor would be a separate project from the current TxDOT expansion and not a change order to the current project. Bielek anticipates finishing the expansion in April or May of 2014. Putting together final plans, demonstrating denial of access and the need for right of way for people (read "connectivity"), obtaining funding ($1 Million or less) and beginning the new project could start next fall and be done in early 2015. 

Please make plans to come to the meeting on December 11th. Let TxDOT know that you want connectivity from one side of the park to the other.

More, of course, later

Monday, November 11, 2013

Solid Waste Flow Control Should Flow On Time

First of all, read the Cindy Ramirez story in today's El Paso Times: El Paso City Council to mull solid waste flow control, landfill issues. As someone who favors more recycling and less waste, moving to the use of our own landfills just makes sense. Putting it simplistically, if I'm burying my garbage in someone else's backyard, I don't care how much I throw away or what I throw away. If I have to use my own backyard, then I start caring. Moreover, I prefer local contractors who care about our home over a huge mega-corporation such as Waste Connections. Actually I do care about what and how much gets dumped no matter whose backyard we use. It's our earth and fellow humans not to mention the health of the water we all use, the critters and the rest of the environment involved. There may be major problems with the Sunland Park landfill and we should care.

There are two main challenges that we face when it comes to dumping less, recycling more and using our own landfills to incentivize these goals. There is that $18.5 Million to re-open the McCombs landfill, of course, but that is not insurmountable. A preliminary decision by the TCEQ to expand the McCombs landfill was issued just one month ago. All that is now required is a public hearing. What the City applied for was to increase the vertical of landfill from 4,125 to 4,305 feet above sea level over a boundary of 19.4 acres. That's 180 feet. Imagine an 18 story building sitting on 19.4 acres. There's your $18.5 Million. However, El Paso creates about a million tons of garbage (commercial and residential) per year. The cost to dispose of one ton is $26. Even if the City collects half or a bit more of the garbage, the cost of the landfill expansion is easily recouped in just over a year. What this means is that there is no reason why El Paso shouldn't stick to the current September 2014 date for flow control.

So why the push back? First we are dealing with a huge corporation which makes huge profits. Whatever the politics at play, the City Manager must have been swayed to stick with the Big Boys over the local contractors - a huge economic error for so many reasons that I can't get into them right now except to say that it hurts the tax base and puts the burden on property owners as have all the colonial exploits in this City. (Want to know why your home and/or small business is overtaxed? Look at the salary and wage base versus the profit margin of the few and elite Big Boys.) There is also, of course, the fact that Waste Connections has given huge amounts as reported by the Times to our friend, Dr. No. I have also heard that Rep. Robinson does not want a dump in his part of the City in spite of the fact that the McCombs Landfill is on the border with New Mexico and near an expanding Jobe Quarry. It's industrial land no matter how you look at it or want it or whatever. See the map.

The final challenge to waste and recycling is the remoteness of El Paso. An engineer with extensive knowledge of solid waste work told me that, since we are so far from the centers of demand for recyclables, the transportation costs put us out of the market. Furthermore, we don't produce enough combustible waste to make waste to energy plants economical. (Perhaps it could be if Ft. Bliss were to join us; but then we still may be market-hungry.) 

The solution? According to the engineer: "The real key in our area is to reduce waste at the source.  Compost at home; don’t buy stuff with a lot of packaging; don’t use plastic grocery bags; reduce overall consumption of the items that create the most bulk waste." Flow control is a great incentive for us to do just that - waste less, compost more, reduce unnecessary packaging including the ubiquitous El Paso City flag - the plastic grocery bag. We've got to act not just talk. I still shake my head with disgust when I think of our City's Sustainability Manager's half-hearted presentation to a City Council Legislative Review Committee two or so years ago on banning plastic bags. We need some real will power not just nice looking plans and cutely stated goals.

Let's hope that the Davids win tomorrow and the Goliath, Waste Connections, goes down and the Philistines on the Council are fewer than the Israelites. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Way Under the Radar: OSAB NOT Advised about Stormwater Budget Meeting

Why wasn't OSAB advised about this meeting at the EPWU?

The Friday Video: Otero Mesa Proposed Mining + Call to Action

Here's the video:

Here's one way for you to take action:

Click on image to enlarge.

For more information:

New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
The Southwest Environmental Center
Fans of Otero Mesa

Meet PSB Board Applicants Tuesday November 12th 6 to 7:30 PM

PSB Member, Dr. Richard Bonart, and CEO John Balliew discuss the communications policy - a.k.a. gag rule

The terms for the Consumer/Citizen Advocacy and Environmental/Health seats on the PSB expire at the end of 2013 and the process for appointing persons to fill those seats has begun.

Currently, Dr. Richard Bonart is the Consumer/Citizen Advocacy member of the PSB and Richard Schoephoerster is the Environmental/Health member. Both have submitted applications to serve again. Elpasonaturally is calling for the resignation of Schoephoerster because he used his position on the board to attempt to procure a special project for UTEP where he serves as Dean of Engineering.

On Tuesday, November 12th from 6 to 7:30 p.m. the public will have the opportunity to meet the applicants for both seats. The meeting will be held in the Commissioner's Room of the El Paso County Court House (500 East San Antonio Avenue) courtesy of Judge Veronica Escobar.

The meeting has been called "an evening of civic transparency and inclusion" - quite a concept for the PSB that is currently looking at a draft for a new communications policy that restricts board members from exercising their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and, in effect, attempts to prohibit the news media from exercising their right of freedom of the press. (See attached draft below.)

That communications policy along with a discussion of the progress toward getting water to the Rio Bosque is also on the agenda for Tuesday evening.

The moderator will be School Board member and former City Representative Susie Byrd.
The meeting is not a PSB/EPWU sponsored event, nor is it a requirement of the application process. Participation is purely voluntary
Parking is available in the County parking garage on Overland Street or on-street.

A Selection Committee consisting of persons appointed by City Council members and the current PSB will meet on Tuesday, November 19th to review candidate applications and to recommend to City Council their top three candidates for each seat. On December 10th the City Council will select the two persons to serve on the PSB for the next four years. Those two persons will be sworn in at the PSB meeting on Wednesday, January 8th.

Communications Policy Draft October 22, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Breaking News: Public Meeting for FMSP Entrance Scheduled for December

The office of State Representative Joe Pickett received a note from TxDOT this afternoon.  A public meeting about the entrance to the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park is scheduled for Canutillo High School, from 6 to 8 PM, on Wednesday December 11th.

Bielek Responds to Border Highway Concerns but Questions Persist about TxDOT Sincerity

In an email, TxDOT Regional Engineer, Bob Bielek, says that there is no need for anxiety about the Border Highway East project threatening the Rio Bosque because, according to Bielek, "construction is not in the cards for 15 to 20 years based on the likely funding levels for transportation, even the most optimistic projections."

"The purpose of the meetings," explains Bielek, "is to identify issues such as that associated with a planned park entrance. The reason that all of the alternative alignments remain east of the park is to preserve the [Rio Bosque Wetlands Park]."

Bielek wrote that his agency was not even aware of an entrance project to the Bosque. The dream for development at the Rio Bosque can be found online in this document. Obviously those development plans are obscure and should be brought to TxDOT's attention. It is TxDOT's track record of little or no regard for public input (despite insistences otherwise) which causes distrust.

For example, in response to criticism about delaying a safe entrance at the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park, Bielek wrote in the same email: "We continue to work on an alternative that will allow hiker, cyclist, and wildlife access to both sides of Franklin Mountain State Park, which appears to be the real purpose and need for this project." In letters, emails, memos and at public meetings, FMSP and TPWD officials as well as members of the public have also emphasized (and done so numerous times) the need for safe access to the park by motorists. TxDOT has dismissed those concerns saying that there is no record of any serious accidents into or out of the park. TxDOT's dismissive attitude means that, in spite of reasonable concerns, only hiker, cyclist and wildlife access are the "real purpose and need for this project." Extremely important yes - but not the only real purpose and need for this project as stated repeatedly.

I am reminded of this tongue in cheek video by people with common sense even if lacking in hard statistical data:

In his email, Bielek suggested that those concerned with environmental issues were operating emotionally and not intellectually. Again, the minimizing of TxDOT's critics while attempting to appear in search of shared solutions is ingenuous. The other side's points of view have already been judged as unreasonable. After all, most conservationists don't carry evolved slide rules nor wear a white shirt with a pocket protector full of pens. (Sorry I'm stereotyping.)

According to Bielek, TxDOT is aiming for a public workshop the week of December 9th for the entrance into the State Park. Hopefully a good alternative that will provide safe access for motorists as well as hikers and cyclists and an animal corridor without destroying the scenic view with a tall overpass will be presented. Such a presentation will go a long way toward showing the public that their concerns and viewpoints are important. Frankly, I've yet to go to a TxDOT meeting that wasn't window dressing for a decision already made. (They can claim to have gotten public input but then turn around and tell the public what TxDOT's right solution is.) If just once, the public concern for such things as safe access for motorists, bicyclers and hikers and animal corridors are really integrated into a plan, then Mr. Bielek and to some extent his agency would have just a bit more credibility.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TxDOT Strikes Again

You would think that there couldn't be another conservation/environmental project that TxDOT would want to destroy. It's excuse and delay when it comes to a wildlife corridor and safe passage to the Franklin Mountains State Park. They refuse to use federal money targeted for a bike share program. Now they are preparing to put it to the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park. Park manager, John Sproul, sent this message:

In May, the Texas Department of Transportation began its Border Highway East Study, intended to look at transportation improvements along the border in southeast El Paso County.  Attached is a Fact Sheet on the study. 

The most significant facility being looked at in this study is a proposed new highway extending from the Zaragoza International Port of Entry to the Tornillo-Guadalupe International Port of Entry.  Initially, four alternative alignments have been presented for this highway.  They are displayed on the attached “BHE Constraints north” map.  Immediately east of Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, all four alignments are identical:  They parallel the Riverside Canal on the opposite side of the canal from the park. 

From the inception of the wetlands project at Rio Bosque, one of our main goals has been to establish a new entrance to the park from Socorro Road.  It would be at the park’s southeast corner, where the visitor center is located.   The planned new entrance would provide direct, convenient access off Socorro Road and directly link Rio Bosque with the Mission Trail.  Over the past several years, working in coordination with El Paso County Water Improvement District #1, we have been finalizing plans for the new entrance.  It would include:

  • a short entrance road from Socorro Road
  • a parking area
  • a new footbridge crossing the Riverside Canal
  • walkways leading from the parking area to the footbridge and from the footbridge to the park's existing Bosque Trail and visitor center.

The four alternative alignments for the highway all go right through the area proposed for this new entrance. [Emphasis is mine.]

The upcoming meetings will be in an open-house, come-and-go format.  You’ll have a chance to view the maps, discuss the study with project planners, and offer you views, ideas and concerns. 

Public Meeting, Border Highway East Study

Tues. 19 November
4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Socorro High School Cafeteria
10150 Alameda Ave., Socorro, TX


Wed. 20 November
4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Rio Valle Women’s Club

521 Mike Maros, Fabens, TX 

Border Highway East Study Fact Sheet
BHE Constraints North Map

Call for Action: Help the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park

Below is a letter from Sal Quintanilla, President of the Friends of the Rio Bosque. He is asking us to email PSB members and/or attend the PSB meeting on Wednesday, November 13. At issue is building a pipeline from the Bustamante treatment plant to the Rio Bosque in order to provide much needed irrigation. 

Dear Friends of the Rio Bosque,

You know what a wonderful place we have in the City of El Paso’s largest park – the 372-acre Rio Bosque Wetlands Park.   In 1997, a project intended to create wetland habitat was launched at this park to mitigate for impacts associated with building and operating the concrete-lined American Canal Extension next to the Rio Grande in El Paso.  The Rio Bosque is a tremendous asset to El Paso and could be more so, IF it only had water.  The El Paso Public Service Board (PSB) will decide whether to build a pipeline to bring effluent from the Bustamante Waste Water Treatment Plant (BWWTP) to water the Park.  You can check the PSB website on Friday 8 Nov for the agenda.  Please plan to attend the PSB meeting on Wednesday 13 Nov, starting at 8 am at 1154 Hawkins Blvd, El Paso, Texas and sign up to make public comments.  Also, please contact all PSB members to explain why El Paso should have a wet Rio Bosque Wetlands Park and urge them to vote “Yes”.  PSB members’ e-mails are below and additional background information is attached.

What would El Pasoans gain by having water in our Wetlands Park?  Instead of giving away 80 to 90 acre feet of effluent each day, for free, we could store that life-sustaining water in our own aquifer (see attached Malcolm Pirnie Arcadis Bullets).  Bird watchers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts would come from far and wide and Elpasonaturally estimates that the Rio Bosque could bring $18 million in Eco-Tourism dollars to El Paso.  Educational opportunities abound in a wetlands park where our youth can experience nature, be inspired to study Science and become more involved with our community.  Graduate level UTEP students could conduct aquatic research at the Park and bring grant money to our area.  El Paso Water Utilities is already world renowned for water conservation and education and could also be a shining example of how to restore wetland and riparian habitat in the desert. Ecosystem services provide a myriad of benefits to mankind including clean air, clean water, and esthetic, cultural and spiritual value.  Services provided by wetlands include stormwater storage, nutrient removal and climate regulation.  Using extremely conservative estimates by highly regarded researchers, Robert Costanza et al, the value of the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park ecosystem services would be over $1.7 million per year.  Please urge PSB members to bring these gains to El Paso by building the pipeline from the BWWTP to the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park enhancing this resource for future generations.

Sal Quintanilla 
President, Friends of the Rio Bosque

Name                                                 Email Address

Dr. Richard T. Schoephoerster 
Ruth Katherine Brennand         
Dr. David C. Nemir                    
Dr. Richard C. Bonart                
Henry Gallardo                          
Terri Garcia                                
Mayor Oscar Leeser                   
President and CEO John Balliew

Rio Bosque Bullet Points by Malcolm Pirnie Arcadis

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Friday Video (on Sunday): Portlandia Bike Rider

Do read the Guardian article that also embedded this funny video. It's by Elly Blue: For the price of a mile of highway, you too can have a bike-friendly city. Of course, if the preference continues to be to pay for more border patrol programs to fight a losing drug war but score political points, El Paso may never see a dime to become bike-friendly.

Hat tip to Marshall Carter-Tripp for the article and the video. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Noe No Friend of Conservationists

"They're aligned with Tolbert. That means they like natural open space and protecting little animals. Let's sprawl them! Muahaha!"

David K. shared one of the emails he received as a result of an Open Records Request. It clearly shows that City Council District 5 Representative, Dr. Michiel Noe, is no friend of conservationists:

The petition, of course, is the one currently in circulation to preserve land north of Transmountain on both sides of the Franklins. 

We shouldn't be surprised by his unfriendly stance toward green. The highest contributors to his 2011 campaign included:

Sun City Properties $7,200 total
Melcan Ltd.  $1,500
Randal O'Leary $1,500 total
Doug Schwartz $1,000
Assoc. of Builders $1,000
Gerald Rubin $1,000
Scott Schwartz $1,000

Dr. Noe is bought and paid for as they say.