Friday, August 29, 2008

The Cure for the Common Chihuahua: GET A CAT!

Here is the difference between dogs and cats:

A dog says, “These people feed me and give me a warm home and love me. They must be gods.”

A cat says, “These people feed me and give me a warm home and love me. I must be a god.”

Get a cat! Tonkinese are the best although a Tabby will do as well.

Cats don't poop in the yard or at Newman Park. (By the way, there are doggy poop bags available now at Newman Park.)
Cats don't bark incessantly when a happy hiker should stroll by - they just disappear up a tree or behind a bush.
Cats don't escape to run with the pack with lascivious abandon.
You really can replace that Queen Anne couch that the cat has reupholstered. And what's a little pissing match between two or more cats. There are perfectly good "green" household products you can purchase to manage . . . spraying. Nondescript and quite descript corpses of playthings are easily removed from under the bed or on the kitchen floor with a broom and dustpan.
Millions of years of feline evolution have produced these lovable little animals. They purr. Do Chihuahuas purr? No, Chihuahuas yap and yap and yap.

Case closed. GET A CAT!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Adoration of the Chihuahua

I am sure that all of you are familiar with the classic painting by the 17th Century French painter, Nicolas Poussin: The Adoration of the Golden Calf. You are probably also familiar with the story of the golden calf in the Biblical Book of Exodus (Chapter 32). The image of the golden calf readily came to mind as I gawked at the City of El Paso's striped Chihuahua - a sculpture that sits on the first floor of the City building. It is a gift from the City of Chihuahua and is entitled Dada Can. The artist is Edgar Palomino González. It was part of a recent Chihuahua Dog Parade - an exhibition of colorful Chihuahua sculptures in the City of Chihuahua. You can see a collection of these sculptures here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Newman Park Neighborhood Association August Board Minutes

Minutes for Newman Park Neighborhood Association Board Meeting, August 23, 2008 at Cinco Puntos Press, 701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, TX.

In attendance: Becky Ayala, Lee Byrd, Lynn Coyle, Lisa Degliantoni, Becky Friesenhahn, Sergio Guerrero, Abbie Majerczyk and Jim Tolbert.

President Lynn Coyle called the meeting to order at 8:05 a.m.

New board member, Abbie Majerczyk, was introduced. She replaces Diana Erickson who recently resigned from the Board.

Sergio Guerrero gave a report on the recent Neighborhood Coalition Summit. He and Jim Tolbert attended. The name of our Association did not appear on the list of Neighborhood Associations. Jim was tasked with making sure that Mark Alvarado and Bill Sparks are made aware of this oversight.

Jim recommended that we begin attending Coalition meetings on the third Monday of every month. He said that he would attend as often as he could.

Jim Tolbert brought up the Neighborhood Leadership Academy. It was decided that the Academy was good for new Associations who weren’t as familiar with City government. It was agreed that we are pretty knowledgeable about the City departments and that they are pretty familiar with us.

The Board next heard a report from Jim about the Traffic Calming/Greening Committee. The Board discussed the proposed traffic changes at Wheeling. Lynn said that she would attend the follow-up meeting at the City regarding this change. Becky Friesenhahn urged that others attend as well.

The Board also had a lengthy discussion about planting more trees in the neighborhood. Lisa Degliantoni and Sergio Guerrero said that they would assist with a grant proposal through the West Texas Urban Forestry Council to the Neighborwoods Tree program sponsored by the Alliance for Community Trees.

The Board next discussed the upcoming September 13th music in the park event. Lee remarked that the City will soon have a program that will pay for neighborhood association concerts. Lee was tasked with finding a band for September 13th.

At the end of the meeting, the following calendar in preparation for the 13th was agreed upon:

Prior to September 4 Band Selection
Thursday, September 4 Info to Becky F. for Flyer
Translation into Spanish by Sergio
Monday, September 8 Flyers Distributed

The Board briefly discussed the Halloween event. It was agreed that the event should be expanded to include other activities. As Halloween falls on a Friday this year and not on a school night, it was suggested that Trick or Treaters could return to the Park for a scary story.

The Board continues to be concerned about the deterioration of the McKee Mansion (2630 Richmond). Lee will contact Gary Williams at the El Paso Community Foundation to see if they have interest in the property. She also mentioned contacting the McKee Foundation as well.

Becky Friesenhahn next reported on the last Neighborhood Improvement Program update. She and Jim met with Lorrine Quimiro in the Neighborhood Services Department on August 13th. Final placement of benches, tables, exercise stations, etc. were discussed. Flexibility was given to City engineers for the best possible positioning of items. Becky left Lorrine a copy of the engineering drawing from the Parks Department showing where the new swings would be placed. An onsite meeting at Newman Park will be scheduled. We are on the fast track and should see the improvements completed by spring of 2009. Becky also asked that the City take responsibility for engineering estimates if too much. A major contention with the City centers on the fact that 50% of the grant for neighborhood improvements includes engineering/permitting costs. A $50,000 grant is in essence only a $25,000 grant.

Lynn asked Board members to consider that future events in the Park be advertised on a banner in the Park similar to one used at Madeline Park. A twice yearly printed bi-lingual newsletter was also suggested. It was also suggested that an event flyer be sent out to the e-letter list prior to an event. Becky Ayala will check to see if Americorp or other groups will leaflet the neighborhood for us.

Meeting adjourned at 9:32 a.m.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Cold Day in Hell

Our monthly Newman Park Neighborhood Association board meeting was held this past Saturday morning at Cinco Puntos Press on the corner of Ochoa and Texas Avenue. I arrived there at 7:53 a.m. and promptly deposited 3 quarters in the parking meter for one and a half hours of parking. Our meetings never go too much beyond an hour. However, this Saturday we did run a bit longer. When I got to my car around 9:40, there was a parking ticket waiting to greet me. The ticket was written at 9:37 - 14 minutes after the meter had expired.

Now I know that everyone wants to visit the outskirts of downtown El Paso on a Saturday morning. It is so bustling with traffic that people have to circle blocks over and over just for parking.
Above are photos I took after being dutifully cited for my blatant greed at taking up a precious parking spot near downtown by a diligent meter cop whose salary is probably solely derived from such raptor-like watchfulness for the City of El Paso.
The top photo was taken in the middle of the intersection of Texas and Ochoa looking west toward downtown. Note the heavy traffic of people sightseeing the empty buildings of downtown El Paso.

The second photo is taken from the same spot but looking east. It's amazing that I wasn't run over.
The third shot was taken from several blocks farther east.
The fourth shows two hours parking in front of businesses not much farther east on Texas. I wonder how a little business such as Cinco Puntos Press might be able to procure such favoritism from the City as well.

I can understand passing out parking tickets when parking is at a premium. The problem is - it isn't even a premium on weekdays in downtown El Paso. This is merely another way to frisk the El Paso taxpayer.
I don't know where I'm going with all of this but I know one thing: It will be a cold day in hell before I pay a cent of this $11 ticket. It will be the temperature at which nitrogen freezes in fact.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Anti-Graffiti Community Task Force Recommendations

At the recent 4th Annual Neighborhood Summit El Paso County Attorney José Rodríquez summarized the proposals made by the Anti-Graffiti Community Task Force.
The Legislation Committee recommends harsher penalties for repeat graffiti offenders. It also suggests that the City adopt an ordinance that allows government officials to enter private property to remove graffiti when property oweners fail to sign a consent form. The Committee also propses that the City adopt another ordinance that requires business owners to lock up or place spray paint behind a counter.

The Community Outreach Committee in response to a request from the El Paso Police Foundation began a public awareness campaign addressing graffiti issues. It also issued the following recommendations as part of the 2008 Final Report of the Anti-Graffiti Community Task Force:

1. Maintain one telephone number for reporting graffiti clean-up.
2. Create a graffiti public information campaign.
3. Maintain a goal of twenty-four hour graffiti removal.
4. Adopt funding for additional field supervisor and trucks for adult probation.
5. Create an annual wipeout graffiti day.
6. Support and participate in annual graffiti wipeout car show.
7. Establish a mural contest.
8. Increase law enforcement support.
Finally the School Education Committee of the Task Force made these 3 recommendations
1. Create a comprehensive community-based education program.
2. Conduct school poster and video contests.
3. Promote campus "Crime Stoppers".

With School Starting Think Safety

Our children start school again this coming Monday, August 25th. Officer Henry Slack gives these safety tips:

"School is about to start, so let's talk about SCHOOL ZONES.

First, here is a review of some definitions:

STOP: the complete cessation of movement.

STOP, STOPPING OR STANDING: when prohibited means any stopping or standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or traffic control sign or signal.

SCHOOL CROSSING ZONES: for the safety of school children, shall be appropriately marked by traffic control signs or devices, indicating school is in session 45 minutes before the start of the first class and 30 minutes at the end of last school class. Whenever signs indicate that the regulations are in force, no vehicle shall pass any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction between the signs designating the school crossing zone, and all vehicles shall come to a complete stop at the school crossing when the crosswalk is occupied by any person.

First day of School is August 25th for both the El Paso Independent School District and for Ysleta Independent School District. Make time by leaving home earlier, typically the first day of school is a bit hectic for parents, teachers and students. If you are planning to walk your child to school, park near the school (legally) walk and talk to your child.

Talk to them about Stranger-Danger, Drugs, Bullies. Have a Secret Pass Code that only you and the child know, teach them that only those person who know the code can pick them up from school.

First day’s of school should be a memorable one, so please drive carefully and be courteous to others."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Perfect Vehicle for El Paso Floods

Flooding got you down? Storm water higher than your car? Can't get to your Chihuahua to rescue him? Here's the perfect vehicle for El Paso floods.

Someone call Dick Poe.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Green Tips from Laura Z

It's mosquito season! They lay their eggs in any standing water, so change your pet's water and the birdbath water daily. Check around the house for any thing else that collects water when it rains and empty them. If mosquitoes are buzzing your ear while you're trying to sleep, put the ceiling fan or another fan on in the room, because they can't fly when it's windy.

I have heard that you can put some apple cider vinegar and water in a bowl and place it outside by your picnic table to keep them at bay. Also, the old favorite citronella candles placed around the picnic area help. Dab lavender oil on your wrists and elbows, or spray Skin So Soft by Avon on your skin to keep the insects off. Mosquito nets also work great. I found a mosquito net tent that hangs over the bed (like the good old days) at the secondhand store.

Here are some other green tips: Turn the water heater to low when on vacation, and in the summer. When you brush your teeth, wet the tooth brush and turn the water off while you brush. You will save at least 10 gallons of water! How about when shaving or doing the dishes? Run the water only when you need to.

When buying supplies for your next picnic, remember that Styrofoam lasts 500 YEARS or is NOT biodegradable.

Does your office recycle paper? If not, maybe you can arrange it. Also see if they use paper that has been recycled. GREENPEACE recently wrote an article about using recycled paper products whenever possible, especially toilet paper and Kleenex (the KLEENEX brand does NOT use ANY recycled paper in their Kleenex, which means that they are destroying hundreds of acres of our beautiful virgin forests daily so we can blow our noses!).

Speaking of blowing noses...anyone with allergies, or sinus problems should use the neti pot for relief. It works wonders! Walgreen's sells something cheaper that works the same. It is a saline solution that you put in a plastic container. You squeeze it so it goes in one nostril and out the other.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Traffic Calming at Wheeling and Scenic Drive

Mayor Pro-Tem Susie Byrd summarizes the actions at a recent meeting (July 29th) regarding a proposal to change the traffic pattern at Wheeling and Scenic Drive:

"Because of the high speeds coming off of the mountain onto Wheeling, traffic engineering is recommending closing access on the south side of Wheeling at the topof Scenic. So basically you could go up Wheeling to Scenic but could not leave Scenic on Wheeling. You would have to go down to Richmond or Louisville to access the neighborhoods.

Comments and concerns ranged at the meeting: several people are anxious to get this done quickly because of long time concerns about safety. Other people who often use this access wanted some more information about the actual speeds on this and other streets and what the impact would be on Louisville and Richmond. Everyone agreed that this closure should not include a sort of pocket park as it would encourage loitering in this area. Traffic is pretty adamant that this is the only solution (while admitting it as a drastic solution) that would really seriously slow traffic down this portion of Wheeling.

Traffic engineers agreed to gather some additional information to distribute to all impacted and interested parties which would include: speeds on Wheeling, Louisville and Richmond; traffic counts on these three streets to get a better idea of how diverting traffic from Wheeling would impact Louisville and Richmond and an assessment of whether a temporary solution could be put in place so that people could get a feel for the long term impact of this solution.

The resurfacing of Wheeling will happen in the fall so they would like to get all feedback and ideas back as soon as possible. I will forward you the information when it becomes available to me."