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

Archive for July 2009

First corruption case hearing with the new old judge

For background go to this NPT article.

The upshot is that Judge Frank Montalvo has handled most if not all of the public corruption cases. The case involving Luther Jones and Gilbert Sanchez was not in his court, but Judge Phillip Martinez transferred it to Montalvo in a ruling this week. Jones in previous filings has stated his intent to challenge Montalvo.

Here’s the order setting the first hearing under Montalvo:


USA vs. (1) Luther Jones (2) Gilbert Sanchez

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the above entitled and numbered case is set for DOCKET CALL in Courtroom 4, on the 4th Floor of the United States Courthouse, 511 E. San Antonio, El Paso, TX, on Friday, August 07, 2009 at 09:30 AM.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall send a copy of this order to counsel for defendant, the United States Attorney, United States Pretrial Services and the United States Probation Office. Counsel for the defendant shall notify the defendant of this setting and, if the defendant is on bond, advise the defendant to be present at this proceeding.

IT IS SO ORDERED this 31st day of July, 2009.


Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 31, 2009 at 5:53 pm

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DA Jaime Esparza fund-raiser, with a familiar MC

District Attorney Jaime Esparza’s fund-raiser last night at Cafe Mayapan included an introduction from a familiar face in fund-raisers — Chuy Reyes, brother of U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes.

Among the other political celebrities on hand, we hear, were Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza, Marcos Lizarraga (who is or will be a candidate for the 168th), noted attorney Joe Spencer, former city engineer and LULACer Fermin Dorado, judicial candidate Marlene Gonzalez, and County Commissioner Anna Perez.

Want to see more? Follow this link to a slide show of the event, posted by Don Williams.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 31, 2009 at 1:29 pm

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EPE ordered to pay half mil in cash and projects for violations at Rio Grande plant

News release in the NPT inbox:

NMED Enters into Consent Decree with El Paso Electric Ordering $525,000 in Penalties and Environmental Projects for Violations at Power Plant near Sunland Park

Company Must Complete Projects that Benefit Public Health and Environment

(Santa Fe, NM)—The New Mexico Environment Department entered into a consent decree with El Paso Electric Co. of Texas for air quality violations at its Rio Grande Electric Power Generating Station near the border of Sunland Park. The decree, which the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe approved today, will require the company to provide $525,000 in penalties and environmental proejcts for those violations.

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm

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Chronicle of Higher Education: 19th-Century Lessons for Today’s Drug-War Policies

Read the entire article by Brian DeLay here. Some excerpts:

— This spring in El Paso, after a talk I gave on the Indian raids and the U.S.-Mexican War, a man in the back row raised his hand. “Do you see any similarities between the borderland violence you’ve just described for the 1830s and 1840s and the current drug war?” The energy in the room changed immediately.

— The obvious alternative to enforcement is to reconsider law. Here we come to a last, instructive difference between the two borderland wars. The market exchanges that helped stoke Indian raids in the 19th century were nominally illicit under Mexican and, later, U.S. law. However, for most of the 19th century, the relative weakness of the American and Mexican governments in the vast borderland region made it difficult to exert any control over markets. More fundamentally, the key commodities in the trade—horses and mules—were ubiquitous and essential to everyday life. The government could no more outlaw those goods than it could pants or copper pots. That fact, combined with the feeble reach of national power, made it virtually impossible to police Indian raids and the exchanges they enabled. Hence changes in the law concerning commodities could have done little to improve borderland security until late in the century.

— The drug war is born of law. According to estimates by the United Nations, roughly one in 20 adults worldwide uses illegal drugs—and nowhere more than in the United States, where the vast market for illicit drugs remains immensely profitable. Prohibition has failed. What it has done is deny drug producers, distributors, and consumers access to the protections and conveniences of the legal marketplace. One result has been phenomenal profits for those entities shrewd, organized, and ruthless enough to overcome obstacles and satisfy demand. War has been another result—war against the state and war against the competition. And, as with any war, the miseries are not confined to the protagonists.

— If I were given another chance to answer that question in El Paso, I’d say that the lesson I take away from the 19th-century parallel is that we ought to look to state and national legislatures (law), rather than the executive branch (enforcement), if we want to bring an end to the drug war in the borderlands. There is a crooked but unbroken line between our drug laws and the sorrows that have engulfed Juárez and so much of Mexico, to say nothing of our own shameful, burgeoning prison system. It is a moral as well as a practical imperative that we change our laws, despite the pain that change will bring. Even paired with comprehensive regulation and rigorous, well-financed drug-treatment programs, legalization would indisputably generate complex ethical, social, medical, and legal problems. But given the vast costs of the war on drugs and the heartbreak and trauma now stalking the borderlands, does anyone really believe those problems would be worse?

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 31, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Commissioner Dan Haggerty will run again

County Commissioner Dan Haggerty was in attendance at the Cobos fund-raiser last night, and had good words about Cobos.

“He’s working hard not to raise taxes and following through. I sit there every year saying ‘we’re not going to raise taxes we’re not going to raise taxes’ and they look at me like I’m crazy. This guy’s really doing that,” Haggerty said.

That said, Haggerty said he didn’t plan to endorse anyone. “I’m running my own campaign,” he said.

Was that an official announcement? “Yes, but you’re the first to know.”

Haggerty said he’s on his fourth term, 16 years, and one more four-year term would make him a 20-year commissioner. When asked why he didn’t try to run for county judge, he responded: “Run for judge? This white boy Republican? Please.”

Haggerty pointed out that the County Courthouse has more than 100 elected officials — “180, someone once told me,” he said — and there are only two Republicans in the bunch, himself and Justice of the Peace Bruce King.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm

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Faces in the crowd at the Cobos fund-raiser

Heard it was well-attended. County Judge Anthony Cobos was introduced by Chuy Reyes, brother of U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes. Others in attendance included judicial candidates Yahara Lisa Gutierrez, Angie Barill, and Julie Gonzalez. Former city Rep. and county commissioner candidate Alejandro Lozano was there. Any other political celebrities?

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 29, 2009 at 1:49 pm

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CQ: U.S. Rep. Reyes has no competition in El Paso

That’s how Congressional Quarterly pegs it. The publication’s ranking of House races has the seat as “safe,” although it only looks at Republican v. Democratic, and does not account for primary challenges or challenges from independents. So, anyone want to calculate the odds of a Republican surprise challenger making an impact, or a primary or independent challenge? Didn’t think so …

Here is the list of rated House campaigns.

Here is what CQ has for a Reyes profile.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Why wouldn’t an international bridge be at Yarbrough? Makes perfect sense … on the Mexican side.

If you go to Google maps and search for “yarbrough el paso texas” and click satellite view and then position the map so you can see both sides of the border you’ll see a road/highway on the Mexican side within spitting distance of the Bermudez maquilaplex pointed straight at Yarbrough. If you follow the road/highway on the Mexican side south it goes to the massive maquila complexes surrounding the Juarez airport. Looks like a lack of planning and/or bi-national cooperation has allowed a situation to evolve where what makes perfect sense on the Mexican side doesn’t make so much sense for a neighborhood on the U.S. side. Any other thoughts? Here’s a story from Diario published in June and posted on the Strelz forum via a chat forum on Juarez urban issues (link):

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 29, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

County ethics board to meet, consider Cobos, Escobar complaints

DATE: Wednesday, July 29, 2009
TIME: 1:30 P.M.
POSTED: Friday, July 24, 2009
The Board of Ethics will give you the opportunity to address them on a particular
item listed on this agenda prior to proceeding with the official business at hand.
Please inform the secretary prior to the start of the meeting which item(s) you wish
to address. Time limit will be five minutes.

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

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Texas Tribune’s EP ties

Worth noting two names with El Paso ties — Ross Ramsey is an El Paso ex-pat, and Brandi Grissom, who will be leaving the El Paso Times Austin Bureau for the project.


Austin, TX – July 23, 2009 – Incoming Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith announced today that the non-profit public media organization has acquired Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter for government and politics in Texas, and has hired longtime Texas Weekly editor and owner Ross Ramsey as its managing editor. Smith also formally announced the hiring of the first five reporters on the Tribune’s newsroom team: Brandi Grissom, Elise Hu, Emily Ramshaw, Abby Rapoport, and Matt Stiles.

“I’m thrilled that we were able to attract journalists of such high caliber,” says Smith, “as each one brings incredible experience and perspective on matters of statewide interest, along with a high level of energy and passion and ambition. I couldn’t imagine a better foundation for the kind of work we intend to produce.”

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 28, 2009 at 11:10 am

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