Monday, August 31, 2009

Newman Park tables feature chess boards

For those of you using the new exercise stations and swings, it's possible you haven't noticed the chess boards on top of some of the tables at Newman Park. Pictured here are Jim and Miles, enjoying a game of chess (Jim won) and now that it's cooling down oustide, you might invite a friend to the park for a quick game.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Susie Byrd: There is a lot going on in District 2

Here's a message from our Representative Susie Byrd:

There is a lot going on in District 2 and around the City that I wanted to let you know about. I updated my blog ( with all the dates and times of upcoming events but wanted to highlight a few in this note.
Congressman Reyes to discuss health care reform at District 2 Community Meeting. Health care reform is the big topic nationally. El Paso has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the United States so these efforts at the federal level will most certainly postively impact access to medical treatment for El Pasoans and improve our economy. Congressman Reyes will talk about the legislation being proposed, answer questions and take ideas on how to improve the legislation. Our meeting is on Thursday, September 3 at 7:30 A.M. at Tierra del Sol on Alabama.
Important Community Meeting on Save Houston Elementary Efforts. EPISD has agreed to keep Houston Elementary open if they are able to increase enrollment at the school in the next two years. They have put together a great working plan to get us there but need the community to step up and support their efforts. On Wednesday, September 2 at 6 P.M. at Houston Elementary, the District will present their plan and enlist volunteers to help recruit new students and improve the school. We need all the help we can get. If you are an area resident, we need your help. If you are a local business who is interested in supporting excellence in education, we need your help. If you can't make it, but would like to help out please contact me.
Sun City Triathalon needs volunteers. A good friend and District 2 resident is trying to round up some volunteers for the Sun City Triathlon taking place on Sunday, September 6. It's being held at Ascarate park (and pool), and it's the only triathlon available in El Paso this year. The kids' race starts at 7am, and the adult race will follow. The director could use about 30 volunteers to direct racers on the course, hand out water, cheer, etc. I'm guessing the volunteers would be needed from about 6am to noon. I you would like to help out, let me know. There are people coming in from out of town for the race, and we want to show them a good, safe, fun event!
There is always more, but these are the highlights. Have a great weekend.
City Council Representative, District 2
City Council Representative, District 2

Ethics Commission Meeting

Our County Commissioner, Veronica Escobar, recently wrote about a very important meeting on September 1. City Council Representative Susie Byrd urges: " Please participate by attending or emailing your Commissioner with your thoughts."

Dear Friends,

I wanted to make sure you are aware of a very important community issue that the Court will discuss and take action on: implementation of the Ethics legislation. Please read this email, let us know what you think, and attend the special meeting if you can.

A Quick History

For the past year, the effort to create an ethics commission at the County has been underway. The idea started with our Board of Ethics; eventually, they brought forward language for legislation that came to Commissioners Court for approval (and was passed unanimously a total four times); the legislative request went through the legislature (with great work by our sponsors, Representative Marisa Marquez and co-sponsor Representative Chente Quintanilla, Senator Eliot Shapleigh and ultimately gained support of every member of our delegation including Reps. Joe Pickett, Norma Chavez and Joe Moody); finally, a bill authorizing us to create an ethics commission was signed by the Governor on June 19, 2009.

Quick Highlights

The bill that is now in the hands of the County allows us to create an Ethics Commission that will be able to apply consequences to those who violate our ethics code (our code already exists). Here's what the bill would allow us to do:

  • El Paso County would be the first county in Texas to create an ethics commission that could assess civil penalties (fines of up to $4,000 for violations, fines of up to $500 for County public servants); criminal complaints would go to law enforcement;
  • County officials, County employees and agents, lobbyists and vendors who do business with the County would be covered under this legislation;
  • Numerous safeguards would protect whistleblowers AND the accused;
  • The cost for the county remains low by created a rotating three person committee to review and weed out frivolous complaints, and repeated frivolous complaints would bring consequences to complaining party;
  • This commission cannot interfere with an employee’s collective bargaining or civil service agreement.
The final version of the ethics bill is available for your review.

Share Your Opinions With Us!

Now that the legislation is in our hands, we have three options: (1) we can take no action; (2) we can adopt it by commissioners court vote; or (3) we ask the voters to decide whether we implement it in a November election.

In order to discuss and take action on these three options, the commissioners court will hold a special meeting. Between now and then, please let us hear from you! Do you have questions or concerns? Let me know, and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Do you favor an election or a vote of the court? Do you think we should do nothing?

My own personal opinion is that we need to implement this legislation immediately. However, there are benefits to an election. If the Court adopts the legislation, it can be undone by a subsequent court. If the voters decide and vote to have the County adopt the legislation, then only the voters can undo it.

This is a critical issue in our community. The state of Texas (its elected officials and its employees) have to follow state rules and answer to the state ethics commission; the City of El Paso (its elected officials and its employees) have to follow their rules and answer to their ethics commission; the County should also.

I look forward to hearing from you, and if you can attend our meeting, please do!



Implementation of Ethics Commission Legislation

DATE: Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TIME: 9:00 a.m.

PLACE: County Courthouse, Commissioner Courtroom, Suite 303 500 E. San Antonio, El Paso, TX 79901


County Judge Anthony Cobos Phone (915) 546-2098 Fax (915) 543-3888

Commissioner Anna Perez, Pct. 1 Phone (915) 546-2014 Fax (915) 543-3885

Commissioner Veronica Escobar, Pct. 2 Phone (915) 546-2111 Fax (915) 543-3817

Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr., Pct. 3 Phone (915) 546-2144 Fax (915) 543-3809

Commissioner Dan Haggerty, Pct. 4 Phone (915) 546-2044 Fax (915) 543-3854

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dancing in the Dark

Last Saturday night, close to 300 neighbors and friends gathered at Newman Park to boogie, cumbia, rock and roll, enjoy a lovely array of desserts, run around in circles (the under-5 crowd), swing, stare at the stars, day/night dream and visit with people they hadn’t seen in ages. We had a wonderful showing of Newman Park neighbors, but also plenty of visitors from other neighborhoods, and even some Austin High alumni back in town from San Antonio and Manhattan to visit their mother.

This is the second time that Romance Latino has played at Newman Park. Last year we made the mistake of waiting sedately until the last song before we got up to dance. What was up with that? We weren’t about to do that same thing again—dancing began from the first note to the last and everyone joined in. Some people danced in pairs, some in groups, and some floated joyfully all alone.

Some, like Sally and Jim Sauli from Richmond Avenue, were really smooth dancers. Watching them was a big treat. Sally and her husband told us later, “This was really a wonderful event.”

It was definitely a night to remember. Martha Garza from the 2700 block of Louisville Street said, “It was a cool evening at the park with dancing and desserts. I got to see old friends and lots of neighbors.” One of Martha’s old friends is Anya Cook of the 2400 block of Louisville. Anya is an enthusiastic supporter, with her husband Greg, of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association. She declared that the whole evening was “a blast!” Anya doesn’t want to wait until next year to meet with neighbors again and so had a whole raft of suggestions to get everyone together sooner than later: a progressive dinner, a barbecue in the park, etc. etc.

Go Anya! But the Neighborhood Association already has lots planned too, to include a dedication of the new park equipment in September, a pumpkin carving event and a neighborhood and park cleanup event in October, a neighborhood visit to Cinco Puntos Press, plus Christmas caroling in December. Stay posted.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Tuesday Vision

Our neighbor on Louisville, Bobby Byrd, had a vision the other afternoon and wrote to tell us about it:

"Hey, a couple of Tuesdays ago I was driving home across Scenic Drive around 6:30 pm (the sunlight going to dusk) and suddenly before me was this unexpected image of Newman Park filled to the brim with a girl’s soccer team, boys playing catch football, all sorts of people including old farts like me walking the sidewalks, kids swinging and sliding, a pair of lovers holding hands and playing a little kissy-face, mothers chatting—my gosh, surely it was a vision. I’ve never seen the park so full except on Easter. It was like Georges-Pierre Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte except of course puro fronterizo style. Congratulations to all of you." —Bobby Byrd

Friday, August 21, 2009

Romancé Latino Returns to Newman Park

the Newman Park neighborhood association

presents Music at the Park with

Romancé Latino

¡Cumbias, corridas, country y mas!

Live @ Newman Park

SATURDAY, August 22, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.


Bring a dessert. Surprise us. It’s your chance to show off!

AND bring your own chairs and blankets.

A PRIZE to anyone who brings a family that has NEVER been to Newman Park events before—a copy of Joe Hayes’ popular book, La Llorona!

Food and fellowship are always part of the Newman Park family fun

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What You Should Know About Tall Grass and Weeds

Environmental Service Department of the City of El Paso just issued this press release:

El Paso, Texas – It’s that time of year again when vegetation can quickly grow out of control.

That means it's also time for El Paso residents to be neighborly and trim their tall grass and weeds.

“Following the summer rains, weeds tend to blanket the city. We are seeking the public’s assistance in combating this problem. Property owners can help by maintaining their yards as well as the sidewalks, alleys and parkways bordering their properties,” said City of El Paso Code Compliance Division Manager Lucinda Chavez.

Overgrowth of weeds and other vegetation is not only unsightly, but can:

  • Pose a fire hazard when it becomes dry.
  • Threaten public health by increasing the amount of allergy-triggering pollens in the air.
  • Serve as a shelter for vermin, mosquitoes and other nuisances.
  • Impede the public's ability to use sidewalks.
  • Reduce property values.

To safeguard the community’s quality of life, the City of El Paso Code Compliance Division, which enforces anti-blight and public nuisance laws, is seeking voluntary compliance with the municipal Vegetation and Weed ordinance.

Property owners or tenants are responsible for maintenance of vegetation on their properties and abutting sidewalks, parkways and alleys, under Title 9 of the El Paso Municipal Code states. Grass, weeds or uncultivated plants should not be allowed to grow taller than 12 inches.

Violations are punishable by a $270 fine, which includes court courts.

Anyone put on notice for an ordinance violation should correct the violation by the compliance date on the notice. At the time notice is given the property owner or tenant may also be issued a Class C citation. If the property is not in compliance at the time of re-inspection, the property owner or tenant may be issued another Class C citation for non compliance. In addition, the City may request a court order seeking permission to access the property to correct the violation.

If the City cleans up the property, the cleanup costs will be passed on to the property’s owner. A lien will be placed on a property if the clean up costs are not paid.

If a repeat violation occurs within one calendar year of the first violation, the City has the authority to clean up the property and pass on the cleanup costs to property owner without providing any additional notice to the violator.

Citizens my report code violations by calling (915) 774-4500 or using on-line services available through

Disposing of Yard Waste

· The City of El Paso Environmental Services Department for a small fee will pick up residential yard waste. For more information, call (915) 621-6700.

  • Citizens, who pay solid waste fees to the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department, may dispose of their yard waste at no charge at a Citizen Collection Station. The sites are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and are located at:

Northeast: 4501 Hondo Pass

North Central: 2492 Harrison

Westside: 121 Atlantic (at Doniphan)

Lower Valley: 9000 Escobar

South Central: 4200 Delta

To learn more about the Citizen Collection Stations visit www.elpasotexasagov/environmental_services or call (915) 621-6700.

Success! Yard Sales Net Cash and Camaraderie

Newmanistas had their first neighborhood-wide yard sale event this past Saturday and all agree it was a success.

Sale organizer, Becky Ayala, declared: "First and foremost it was great fun! We met several people from the neighborhood that we had not met before, a couple people from my street and even one from my block. People were on their feet going from house to house walking the neighborhood."

Newman Park Neighborhood Association President Lynn Coyle agreed: "Neighbors really got out and about and connected to each other. We bought a lot of cool stuff."

Everyone holding a yard sale reported success - even one person who jumped in at the last moment. After passersby offered David Manago money for the yard tools he was using, he opened his garage, put out some things and made enough to buy gas for his next fishing trip!

The enthusiasm generated creative thinking. "Next time take out an ad in the newspaper," suggested Robert Taylor. "There was one house that did this and they had people lined up and waiting when they opened."

One neighbor thought that it would be great if a whole block participated and got permission to restrict traffic. Afterward, all the members of the block could bring their grills into the street and have a big cookout.

Becky Ayala offered that next time the Association could "have a table at the park during the event where the list of houses and some water could be distributed." She added, "We might also want to distribute the information via flyer before hand.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Newman Park Neighborhood-Wide Yard Sale

THE NEWMAN PARK NEIGHBORHOOD-WIDE YARD SALE is tomorrow! Newmanistas will offer the biggest yard sale extravaganza ever from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 15th. There will be a total of 13 yard sales:


2617 LOUISVILLE (Children toys and clothing, women’s clothing and shoes, knick-knacks, power motored chair)


2809 RICHMOND (household items, collectibles, milk glass, crystal and more)

2820 RICHMOND (children’s toys, games and clothes; knickknacks; few pieces of furniture)

2800 RICHMOND (furniture, refrigerator)

2631 ALTURA (collectibles and vintage items, including some furniture)


2719 SAVANNAH (automotive, children’s, clothes, furniture, military flags and paraphernalia)





One of our yard sales will be a BACK YARD sale: 2809 Richmond. There was just so much that they set up tables and put it all in the back.

Event organizer and board member Becky Ayala says: “Make sure to stop by at each participating house.”

There are people who are looking for collectible/old vinyl records, a couch and/or love seat, old costume jewelry or dishes and glass ware. One person is looking for a Spanish style light fixture.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Yandell Post Office To Close?

Will our neighborhood post office close? Taylor Bengston in Mayor Cook's office says that the closures of the Yandell and Dyer offices are not certain. She suggested that the best way to get involved is to participate in the meetings that will be held locally to vet the issues. The meetings have not been scheduled but Taylor has talked to the Congressman liaison on post office matters and she said she will alert us as soon as the meetings are scheduled. Taylor has also let the Congressman's office know that Representative Byrd's office is already receiving concerns about the closures, particularly the Yandell one.

In an email to Representative Byrd shared with us, Taylor Bengston writes:
Rep. Byrd,

I have done some research on the possibility of closures in the El Paso area. It is important to keep in mind that while the post offices are on the potential list, there is nothing confirmed. The US Postal Service is conducting a study of all of their branches (nearly 3200) in an effort to mitigate the estimated $7.1 billion in expected loss in revenue by the end of FY2009.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia held a hearing on this issue last Thursday. There was also a hearing held today before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. I read the testimony given by the Post Master General, and it seems as if the reason for those identified is because of the close proximity to another office.

Of the 677 post offices that have been identified as potential offices for closure, only about 200 have been are likely to be closed according post office and Congressional sources in a recent Washington Post article. Further reading has shown that there will be no closures before the end of the September 2009, so there is still time. There are 18 post office branches identified in the Rio Grande area, and of those, 4 are located in El Paso. Austin and San Antonio have the other offices.

It is my understanding that there is a possibility of a meeting in the future to discuss the branches identified. The folks at the Rio Grande District Office are supposed to notify Congressman Reyes' office when the meeting is announced. I have asked that they keep me informed so that you can participate should you wish to do so. I think this is going to be the most effective way of voicing concern about the possible closures.

There are, of course, other cost saving measures that the Post Office is considering. One being reducing service days from six to five, essentially cutting out Saturday service. According to the Post Master General, moving to a five day work week would save more than $3 billion. Opponents to this measure say that the Post Office cannot expect to gain business if they reduce their service.

Feel free to let me know if there is anything else I can provide.


Taylor Bengton
Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator
City of El Paso

Monday, August 3, 2009

If You Build It, They Will Come

On the morning after the swings were finally installed, there were kids swinging before 6:30. There were kids swinging all day and the day after that and the day after that. There was even a chess game or two played on one of the new tables last Thursday evening.

Comments about the improvements to the Park have been positive and enthusiastic. There have been a couple of criticisms about the exercise stations. One station is not what the Association ordered - but then board members overseeing the improvements were not allowed by the City to check the orders before installation. It is an item on the NPNA punch list - but will City officials allow even that input? So far, there has been no word about a proposed meeting for a walk through to include NPNA members as well as contractors and City officials.