El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Archive for April 2009

NPT Capitol: Straus names House budget conferees

A press release from the House Speaker:


Texas House Speaker Joe Straus Announces House Appointees to Conference Committee on State Budget

AUSTIN— Texas House Speaker Joe Straus today announced the following appointees to the Conference Committee on Senate Bill 1, the state’s biennial budget for 2010-2011.

· Representative Jim Pitts, Chairman, House Appropriations Committee
· Representative Richard Raymond, Vice Chair, House Appropriations Committee
· Representative Ruth Jones McClendon
· Representative John Otto
· Representative John Zerwas

“The House conferees represent a cross section of our state and will guarantee the final budget meets a majority of our Members’ priorities by delivering essential services, preserving the Economic Stabilization Fund and controlling state expenditures”, said Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. “I know Conference Committee members will work together to craft a sound budget which is fiscally responsible and sensitive to the financial difficulties faced by all Texans in today’s challenging economy.”


Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 27, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Media: Time Magazine: “On the Bloody Border”

Just out, a Time Magazine article titled On the Bloody Border. Quotes several El Paso-Juarez people, including El Paso city Rep. Beto O’Rourke (“If you live on the border, you see that the old drug-policy emperor has no clothes.”); Lucinda Vargas, head of the community-development organization Plan Estratégico de Juárez (“Washington and Mexico City need to know the solutions to this crisis are here on the front line.”); and Tony Payan, a Mexico expert at UTEP (“(Obama) needs a Mexico approach for the next 20 years, not 20 days.”)

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Border committee hoping to gather info on swine-flu

House Border and Intergovernmental affairs committee Chairwoman Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, is hoping her committee will be able to schedule a last minute hearing this afternoon in wake of cases of swine flu hitting parts of Texas.

Gonzales said this morning she was hoping Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. David Lakey would be able to make the hearing scheduled for later on this afternoon.

So far cases in Texas have been limited. However, Gov. Rick Perry has requested 850,000 courses of antiviral medication from the Federal Government as a precautionary measure. The BBC reports that Swine flu may have killed up to 150 people in Mexico. There has yet to be any major decisions publicized on how border ports of entry will be effected.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT: Bill White: “No, I don’t” and other positions

Houston mayor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bill White dropped in on Saturday’s Ray Pearson Forum and fielded questions on everything from solar energy to running a stormwater utility.

He was brought there by El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza.

White, Houston’s strong mayor for the past five years, is among a hoard of Republican and Democratic candidates going for the seat that Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison intends to leave to run for Texas governor.

He opened with a shot at Republicans, saying, “I think there’s something wrong when people hope for the failure of the administration just to score political points.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 26, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT City: EPISO’s stormwater endorsement, Accountability Session, and early voting

News release from EPISO:

Stormwater Proposition Endorsement

Sunday: 4 PM
Santa Lucia Hall – 518 Gallagher

EPISO will announce its position on the Stormwater Proposition in front of 500 local residents and the candidates for Mayor and City Council Districts 2, 3 and 7. John Cook, Gus Haddad, Carlos Rivera,

Susie Byrd, Steve Ortega, Emma Acosta, Alexandro Lozano and other candidates are confirmed for an Accountability Session starting at 3:00 PM. Candidates will be asked to state their positions on the Stormwater Proposition, economic development and neighborhood issues. The meeting will be tied to neighborhood get-out-the-vote walks and early voting in EPISO congregations and other sites around the city. The Stormwater announcement will take place at the end of the meeting at roughly 4:00 PM.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Media: Saturday’s Meet the Press: Who polices the police?

This week’s arrest of arrest of KVIA-TV’s reporter Darren Hunt and photographer Ric DuPont by a police officer as they were reporting on Interstate-10 traffic accident got many people talking about the El Paso Police Department’s interactions with the news media and the public as well.

The El Paso Press Club has arranged a Meet the Press program this Saturday to explore questions the arrests raise about law enforcement procedures, training and discipline, and what working journalists and the public should expect from police on the city’s streets.

The panelists will be police department spokesman and former reporter Javier Sambrano, KVIA’s news director Brenda DeAnda and George De Angelis, a former assistant chief of the El Paso Police Department. De Angelis, the department’s No. 2 officer until 2002, teaches criminal justice at El Paso community College and holds two masters degrees, including one in criminal justice administration and security. He has also testified as an expert witness on police matters.

The panel will be open to questions from members of the news media and the public. Saturday’s event begins at 10:30 a.m. and will end about noon at Kinley’s House Coffee & Teas, 2231 N. Mesa St. at Kerby Ave.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 24, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT City: Ethically speaking

The county ethics bill is to be discussed at two City Council community meetings, on Saturday and Monday:

— El Paso County Commissioner Anna Perez will speak at city Rep. Emma Acosta’s meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday at Chihua’s Restaurant, 9135 Gateway West. The scheduled topic is the county ethics bill.

— County Attorney Jose Rodriguez will speak city Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s meeting at 7 a.m. at the UTEP Village Inn. The scheduled topics include the proposed gang injunction and the county’s ethics bill.

Sito Negron

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Media: El Pasoans’ future thinking in Texas Monthly: Secession, legalization, diversity

This month’s Texas Monthly cover bills itself as “The Ideas Issue,” with 82 people writing about 100 words each on how to make Texas a better place. More ideas are featured on the web only. [link]

El Pasoans Tony Payan (let the border have authority to solve its own problems), Diana Natalicio (value education and diversity, understand interconnectedness), Alfredo Corchado (El Paso ought to secede to New Mexico), and David Romo (move the capitol, continually, and get rid of representatives) are in the magazine. On the web, Beto O’Rourke (decriminalize, regulate and tax pot) and Bobby Byrd (the drug war elephant is smelling up the room).

Sito Negron

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 24, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT: U.S. Senate candidate Bill White visits

Politics is a 24-7-365 deal. So while El Paso’s mostly (relatively) low-key elections are around the corner, folks are gearing up for the next round. For the U.S. Senate, while there are horses in the race, nobody’s quite sure about the start time.

One candidate to take the Senate seat that apparently will be vacated by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison when she takes on Texas Gov. Rick Perry in 2010 is Houston Mayor Bill White. He’s going to be in El Paso for a little confab with Democratic Party officials and anybody who wants to attend the gathering, which is at 5 p.m. at IBEW Union Hall at 6967 Commerce Street. At 9 a.m. tomorrow, White will be at the Ray Pearson Forum, 214 W. Franklin.

Some background reading to get up to date:

— His website. [link

— White made his intentions clear in December. [link]

— There is confusion about when the election would take place. White’s campaign has requested an opinion from the federal election commission on how to take donations under such unclear circumstances. [link]

— The investigative Website Texas Watchdog is looking into White’s calendar and correspondence with a developer. [link]

Sito Negron

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: “Now we’re in session baby!” UPDATED

Everyone just got a bit excited in the Texas House. The reason? A vote verification. A vote verification is taken when a record vote is close in order to verify the result. An amendment by Harold Dutton, D-Houston to a bill by Pete Gallego and El Paso rep. Joe Moody’s HB 2066 just went down 71-70.

The call for a record vote led to whooping and cheering by state Reps.

“Now we’re in session baby!” I overheard Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton saying, with a number of other reps gleefully agreeing. On a recount the amendment went down again. Expect more arguments as the session goes into the last 40 day.

moodyThe vote was preceded by a good scrap between Moody and Dutton on the back and front mics respectively. Moody prodded Dutton over the usefulness of his amendment until the Houston Rep. got annoyed, cutting in and saying, if you (Moody) want to preach then come up here, if you’ve got a question then ask it.

“We got caught up in a debate about how we prove those cases instead of just promoting good policy,” said Moody afterward.

Moody and Dutton disagreed about the bill in question, which aims to combat domestic violence by toughening the penalties when an assault involves strangulation or suffocation. Dutton told NPT he was concerned that someone could be prosecuted for a felony despite their being a lack of physical evidence (ie marks on a victims neck) and questioned why the penalty enhancement only applied to those who assault family members.

Moody argued that often victims of domestic violence report assaults after marks or bruises are no longer evident. “His amendment would have made it harder to prosecute the more serious offenses that we are trying to tackle with that bill,” said Moody. Dutton’s amendment failed. “I think we did the right thing, the will of the house prevailed and the best policy is going to go forward,” Moody said.

–Ben Wright

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

April 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized