Saturday, February 13, 2016

Almost 50% of Beto O'Rourke's Top Expenditure Went to Suzie Byrd


In 2015, Almost 50% of Beto O'Rourke's Top Expenditures  Went to Suzie Byrd
U.S. Representative's Cronyism and Self Dealing; $81,152 in 2014

According to www.opensecrets.com, in 2015, almost 50% of the Beto O'Rourke's top expenditures went to former City Representative, Suzie Byrd. 

In 2014, 24% of the representatives top expenditures went to Suzie Byrd, although the total amount was larger: $81,152.00 (made in 47 payments).

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines "cronyism" as: "the unfair practice by a powerful person (such as a politician) of giving jobs and other favors to friends."

For 2015, Open Secrets lists the top expenditure to vendors / recipients, and of those top expenditures, there is an amount for $21,000 divided in to 12 payments, and a seperate amount for $10,500 divided into six payments, for a total of $31,500. The payments are made to Moxie Communications and Consulting, which is owned by Byrd (Note 1). 

 
 Source: OpenSecrets.com 
Full Link: https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/expend.php?cycle=2016&cid=N00033540&type=I


Looking at all U.S. Senators and Representatives, O'Rourke is the only one to "use" Moxie's services, or at least pay out a check (see Open Secrets for 2014).


In 2014, as you may remember, Byrd was "spokesperson" for the El Paso Childrens Hospital, but as things got messy with the hospital, she was no longer mentioned as "spokesperson."


Are Payments to Stanton Street Technology Self-Dealing

In both 2014 and 2015, O'Rourke profited from his political contributions, shifting money to Stanton Street Technology Group. In 2014, he paid his own company $39,063 (11.7% to top expenditure) and in 2015, he paid his own company $1,335.

Why So Much on "Communications" During a Non-Contested Primary

The curious thing is why the Congressman needs to pay Byrd so much money when he already had a "Communications Director." According to The Sunlight Foundation, "John Meza" is listed in this position (Note 2). 


It could be that Byrd is used in his re-election bid, however, O'Rourke had no serious opponent in the last election cycle. In a straight-ticket Democratic-voting district, why would Byrd need to be paid so much money?




Note 1 - see "Rep. Susie Byrd believes in success through hard work and listening to the community". 

Note 2 - Several sources point to this. See http://staffers.sunlightfoundation.com/member/O000170  and http://congressional-staff.insidegov.com/d/a/House/Rep.-Beto-O'Rourke-%28D-.-TX16%29

 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Close Look at Rep. Beto O'Rourke's Financial Reports



Corporate Contributors Make the Bulk of Beto O’Rourke’s Gifts in Recent Report

According to the last report filed by Representative Beto O’Rourke, his top contributors include:



82% of his contribution came from large individual contributors.

For being a Democrat, he received no contribution from organized labor.*



*Based on Federal Election Commission data available electronically on Monday, November 16, 2015.

In regard to what industries gave to the representative:



.
  



Monday, February 1, 2016

Should El Paso City Gov’t Require “Affordable-Housing Impact Statements”?



 Should El Paso City Gov’t Require “Affordable-Housing Impact Statements”?

Other Cities are Ahead of El Paso in Requiring Developers to Measure Effect on Affordable Housing

 In Brentin Mock’s recent article, “The Growing Trend of Affordable Housing Impact Statements“ it describes how developer must do environmental impact statements; basically “if it would make it hard for certain native bird or plant species to live there” an impact statement is needed.

However, this is not done for humans. Why not?

“But what if those condos would make it harder for certain people native to that area to live there also, namely by reducing the level of existing affordable housing?”

With rental costs spiraling out of control some cities, New Orleans in particular (the focus of the article) has introduced a bill requiring “’affordable-housing impact statements’” for any proposed ordinances or applications for new zoning or land use changes.” 

In looking at New Orleans, the author says that “28 percent poverty” exists throughout the city and that there has been a “50 percent rise in renting costs since 2000.” 

The author states that in NO, “More than 70 percent of all household …spend more than a third of their income on housing.”

New Orleans has tacked this buy making a 10-year strategy to “create 5,000 affordable unites by 2021.” What has the City of El Paso done in this regard?

Among the cities that have passed similar legislation have been Atlanta, Austin, and San Diego. The article states that Pittsburgh is considering one.

The author describes a 1994 executive order from President Clinton that “requires federal agencies to consider the effects on low-income families before issuing building permits.”

Nevertheless, the author is pessimistic, as enforcement has been “shaky.” 

But at least these cities are ahead of the game. El Paso is still running the first lap.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Can We Have True Multifamily Housing in El Paso with Two-Room Apartments



Development in El Paso: Not Family Friendly
Family-friendly apartments, a misnomer in the Sun City

Following up in our last post regarding rentals in El Paso (Are Renters Being Screwed in El Paso?), I came across another article in Rooflines. Robert Hickey writes in “Seeking True ‘Multifamily’ Housing” how city planners and real estate professional “use the term ‘multifamily’ to describe apartment and condominium building” but it is a great misnomer.

The reason Hickey explains is that the majority of apartment stock is made up of one- and two-bedrooms units. He says that they are better suited for singles or for couples for without children.

He states that according to new U.S. Census data, “homes with three or more bedrooms are decreasing…” falling 12 percent of the “multifamily construction in 2014 – its lowest share since 1991.” 

He shares that in the 25 largest cities (El Paso is in this group), “family-sized three-bedroom units comprise just 5 percent of the non-regulated rental market.”

Hickey says that to get a three-bedroom apartment, it is terribly expensive and that families of modest means are “priced out” to getting these types of units.

What Could El Paso Do?

Hickey used the example of Emeryville, California which passed an ordinance “requiring three-bedroom and two-bedroom units in new market-rate construction.” 

This law requires: “In any new, multi-unit building of 10 or more residential units, no fewer than 15 percent must have three or more bedrooms, and at least half of all units must have two or more bedrooms.” Hickey describes other plans in San Francisco and Washington D.C. 

He also describes how Emeryville has published “family-friendly” guidelines. Wouldn’t “family-friendly” guidelines be appropriate for Downtown revitalization? 

Unfortunately, families is the not the target of El Paso’s hipster-friendly progressives and despite the showcase of one or two middle-class families that live in Downtown El Paso – El Paso’s Downtown families remain in the lower poverty scale -- much to the chagrin of El Paso’s progressives.

Emeryville’s guidelines require:
·        

  •  More play areas for children that are safe and visible from major spaces in the homes
  •  Visible places where pre-teens and teens can gather
  • High-quality sound-proofing materials and enclosed entry foyers to reduce noise and increase privacy
  • Parking for family-friendly units near hallways and elevators
  • In-Unit or common-area laundry machines

  El Paso should focus on true family-friendly living.