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

Archive for May 22nd, 2009

NPT Drug War: DEA claims busted smuggling ring delivered 25,000 pounds of pot a year

News release just in:


(El Paso, Texas) – Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) El Paso Field Division, announced the indictment and arrest of eight individuals and the execution of two search warrants in El Paso, Texas as a result of an investigation into the Rodrigo Eckenroth drug trafficking organization (DTO). The investigation of the Eckenroth DTO was initiated by a DEA El Paso Division Multi-Agency HIDTA Task Force along with the El Paso Police Department Stash House Task Force, based on information that the Eckenroth DTO was responsible for the distribution of approximately 25,000 pounds of marijuana a year throughout the United States during 2007 and 2008. The investigation identified various warehouses and residences in the El Paso metropolitan area that had been utilized by the Eckenroth DTO to store and transport drug shipments.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Republicans split on voter ID?

One thing I’ve noticed watching the Dems grind out the Calendar today (in order to stall and therefore kill SB362, the voter ID bill) is the different approaches certain Republicans have taken to the tactic.

Some have left the floor (presumably in disgust, possibly in order to go to Norma Chavez’s graduation party.) Some have huddled at the back scheming parliamentary tactics in order to counter the Democrats virtual coup of the process. But others have been good sports about it.

State Reps Eissler, Weber, Creighton and Zerwas, all signed up to a pro-voter ID letter, have wryly entertained the Dems, accepting there is little they can do and joking with them as they ask pointless questions.

The rumor mill at the Capitol has been speculating for weeks about just how important Voter ID is as an issue across the spectrum of House Republicans.

While the Republican hard right think the sky will cave in without a Voter ID bill, many don’t want to take a vote on it and others frankly don’t care. At least 71 are public advocates of a staunchly pro-voter ID position. But how much of that is just playing up to grassroots?

The fact is, some Repubs on the floor don’t seem that disgusted by the Democratic chubbing going on. Are they just good sports? Perhaps. But maybe they just don’t care about voter ID that much.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Voter ID, the Ethics bill, and a special session

With the House grinding through the local calendar in order to stall the 2nd reading of Voter ID, other bills, including the El Paso ethics bill are in danger of dying too.

Those bills include the TxDoT sunset bill, a pet project of state Rep Joe Pickett, the TDI sunset bill, a clean air bill, and the El Paso ethics commission bill.

The Ethics bill is on the Local Calendar for today but way down the pecking order. If a Sid Miller point of order is successful later this evening, all Senate Local bills (like the ethics bill) could get bumped, presumably until Dems are satisfied Voter ID is dead. That would mean those bills could be heard on Wednesday. They would need to be heard by midnight otherwise they would die too.

The problem though is that come Wednesday the House needs to be talking about the budget – not a backlog of Local bills. When you add to that the backlog of major Senate bills – such as TDI, TxDot and Windstorm Insurance (and possibly Unemployment Insurance and the Top ten percent admission rule at UT) – you have the potential of finishing the session with a lot of unfinished business.

Could that mean a special session? Gov. Perry said that he would call a special session over the issue of windstorm insurance if a bill didn’t pass. Would he call one over TxDoT, TDI or any of the other issues that look like dieing if things continue? And would he add Voter ID into the pool of subjects a special session could tackle?

Sen. Eliot Shapleigh told Quorum Report this afternoon that the TxDoT sunset bill might be the target of multiple amendments as desperate Senators try to tack their bills onto it.

“A lot of members will have their whole session in the transportation Sunset bill,” told Quorum Report. Because the House has ground to a halt, many Senate bills are in danger of dying in the lower chamber. The hope is that those bills can be added as amendments onto House bills that have been passed onto the Senate. Otherwise, after midnight Tuesday all those bills will be dead.

Update: House is about to recess, both caucuses set to meet (presumably to discuss tactics.)

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Some state Reps grubbin while the rest are chubbin

A table full of Democratic State Reps were found munching away on brisket at Norma Chavez’s graduation party this afternoon. They decided to leave the House, which has ground to a halt over voter ID. The Dems strategy is to slow the calendar down so that the Voter ID bill will die (it must be heard by Tuesday.) The voter ID bill is parked behind eight other bills. Those eight bills are behind today’s local calendar, which if it were proceeding any slower would mean that time was going backwards. IMG_1805

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Norma Chavez’s graduation party

State Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso graduated from UT this morning. She now has a BA in Government and celebrated with friends, lobbyists, fellow state reps and staffers at the Double Tree in Austin this afternoon.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Media: AAS on the Shapleigh-TCEQ lawsuit

From the Austin-American Statesman, State senator, environmental agency tussle over smelter documents, May 18, 2009:

The controversy over whether the dormant Asarco smelter should be allowed to reopen cooled off after the environmental agency, led by Garcia, gave the smelter the go-ahead last year to resume operations. It died entirely when Asarco announced early this year it would permanently close the plant after an unfavorable federal ruling. But the to-do lingers in an open records battle about the meetings between Garcia and the Asarco lobbyist. The open records showdown touches on attorney-client privilege, the rights of a lawmaker to oversee state business and possible out-of-school meetings between the chairman and the smelter company. It is another distraction for an agency that has been accused of being on terms too familiar with companies it regulates.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Media: Alexandro Lozano’s letter to the Times’ publisher

Mr. Ray Stafford CERTIFIED MAIL # 7008 0150 0003 5346 3144
El Paso Times
300 Campbell St. El Paso, Texas 79901

May 20, 2009

Dear Mr. Stafford:

I am very disappointed with the lack of journalistic ethics and obvious bias that you have demonstrated in the City Council race for District #3. You endorsed Emma Acosta, Sunday April 26th, 2009. Within a span of two weeks, the El Paso Times, your newspaper, run four articles favoring your candidate Ms. Acosta.

It is well known controversy and tabloid style reporting sells but it should not be unfairly created to favor one candidate over another and decide political races. Races for public office should be based on issues, ideas and solutions. If you must make this political campaign negative why have you chosen to disregard the truth and hide some facts?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT: Dee Margo goes Grassroots

Dee Margo may not have been elected, but he’s still in the mix. Here’s a letter from him about Grassroots El Paso, which is working to create a Republican network similar to the Democratic networks established across the country, and in El Paso, by the Obama campaign. For background on the group, click here. Here’s Margo’s letter:

It has been sometime since you all have heard from me, and I hope this email finds you well. I would first like to thank you again for your support during my race for House District 78. I have continued my involvement in the El Paso community since my campaign came to an end. This past Christmas, Operation Noel gave 16,500 coats to children in need around the El Paso area. I also continue to be involved in the economic development of our city through the Regional Economic Development Corporation (REDCo).

I would like to bring your attention to an organization I believe is integral to our community, Grass Roots El Paso.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Speaker pro tem lays out rules for chubbing

Speaker pro tem, Craig England, D-Galveston, just made an interesting announcement. The House is on a Local Calendar, meaning llocal uncontested bills that are supposed to pass swiftly get heard.

But Eiland just reminded state Reps that the rules allow them three minutes to lay out their bills and then a maximum of ten minutes of debate can ensure before the bill gets bumped. Eiland has presided over local calendars all session, racing through them, cutting off speakers and smashing the crud out of the gavel. His announcement that he won’t be interrupting people today means the Local Calendar could take a lot longer that usual. The first bill, by Zerwas is currently being debated by Lon Burnam at the back mic (usually there is little or no debate.)

What is going on? The Dems are chubbing again – slowing down the calendar to a crawl in order to delay Voter ID being heard on the floor. Voter ID is set for tomorrow’s calendar. But by slowing local and consent down (and then slowing the major state down after that) SB 362, the Voter ID bill, will be pushed back and back.

If not heard before midnight Tuesday it is dead for this session in accordance with the House rules. There are eight major state bills voter ID is behind. Can the Dems take four days to pass eight bills?

1: The House spent yesterday debating two major state bills without passing them.

2: Even the prayer this morning was slow and wordy. ‘Whose pastor was it?” i hear you ask. House Democratic leader Jim Dunnam’s. Hmm….

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 22, 2009 at 10:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized