Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ortega's Comments Re Austin High School Reveals Elitism in Want-to-Be Mayor

Above, Stevie Antoinette

City Rep. Ortega's Comments Re Austin High School Reveals Elitism in Want-to-Be Mayor
Not New News to Many

Last spring, at Eastwood High School, Representative Steve Ortega was almost booed off the stage at a meeting concerning on the Eastside regarding a round-about at Wedgewood and Montwood.

Most likely due to his elitist demeanor, this happened again at his town hall meeting regarding the baseball stadium that he hosted in August 2012.

Rep. Suzie Byrd

His recent spat of elitism and even down-right “prickliness” is found in an email dated August 20, 2012.

In records received via the Texas Open Records Act and available at, Ortega received a message from Rep. Susie Byrd who writes Ortega surprised to learn that Cd. Juarez is also building a baseball stadium:

Bill and Steve: did you see this info about the Juarez ballpark? Have we looked at this will be competitive with what we are doing? Do you know what level of play it will be?”

Steve Ortega responds:

  “It is the difference between academics at Austin H.S. vs. Coronado H.S.”

Steve Ortega is a person who has already said to various people that it is no doubt he will be the next mayor of El Paso.

In reading the various emails posted at, it appears with definition that he is a pansy for City Manager Joyce Wilson.
However, taking a racial view of this email, Ortega is always happy to throw out Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I have a dream” speech to promote color blindness when protecting Whites, especially El Paso's White elite from accusations of racism by people of color in El Paso.

Email in question can be found at

The legacies of segregation last a long time and although Austin H.S. was a mostly-white school up into the late 1950s, by the 1960s, the demographics of Austin H.S. had begun to flip.
More Mexican families were moving into the area, and this disturbed many Whites.

If you see the archives at UTEP Special Collections regarding the case Alvarado, et. al. vs. El Paso Independent School District (EPISD), it was not unusual for White parents to request their child be transferred upon realizing “there are too many Mexicans at this school.”

More usual, was EPISD granting these requests.

In fact, as the Alvarado case would find, the El Paso Independent School district had manipulated the high school boundaries.
EPISD did this to keep Austin H.S. a “Mexican School” while steering most White families who lived on Ft. Bliss to Burgess High School which was running a “tipping point” of around 33% (this means, EPISD deliberately drew the boundaries so that the percentage of Chicanos at Burgess remained below 33%).

EPISD Board of Trusties manipulated high school boundries to keep Coronado H.S. a mostly-White school

Although its hard to imagein with the many Chicanada that are at Coronado H.S. today, the same thing was happening at Coronado H.S. on the Westside where EPISD manipulated the boundaries so that Coronado remained a “white school.”

For example, neighborhoods like Buena Vista, Smeltertown and Pacific Park which had high concentration of Chicano(a)s had to send their kids more than eight (8) miles away to El Paso High School when their neighborhoods were less than three (3) miles from Coronado H.S.

On the other hand, mostly-white high school age children who lived just above El Paso High School on Rim Road and Kern Place went to Coronado H.S. Kern Place and Rim Road is less than a mile from El Paso H.S., EPISD had drawn the boundaries so that these children could go to Coronado.

Keep in mind this was the 70s and 60s and the Westside and Kern had not Chicanadad.

In Alvarado v. El Paso Independent School District, the Board of Trusties was found to have manipulated high school boundries as Austin High School turned from a mostly-White school to a majority-Mexican school. Boundries were draw to steer Whites toward Burgess H.S.

Of course, the Alvarado case found that EPISD poured money into the “White” high schools, and diverted funds away from the “Mexican high schools,” so Coronado received the positive blessing of segregation that last until this day (although when Coronado started the “tip” and the building of Franklin H.S. is also an interesting story).

From what we hear, Ortega's comments may have been a jab at Susie Byrd, who although lives within the Austin's boundaries, sends her children to Coronado.

From what was explained to us, Byrd's husband works at Coronado so this is allowed.

Nevertheless, Ortega is one politician who never read about segregation in El Paso and probably never read the rest of Martin Luther King, Jr's “I Have a Dream Speech,” much less any other of King's writings.

This is something that he needs to read up on so that he can understand why one high school may have a better academic legacy then another.

However, this is something that escapes him.