Regarding Burka's Take on El Paso and Corruption
by Sito Negron
Posted on March 28, 2008
Paul Burka's Texas Monthly piece is starting to circulate through the city, and so are opinions. Check it here to make up your own mind.
A few thoughts …
Burka opens with: "El Paso is a city that believes in its soul that it has been cheated of its destiny. … There is a palpable feeling of isolation here, of a city being left to fend for itself. … The peculiarities of geography help define the civic character.
"… I went to El Paso recently to write about the corruption that reaches into every area of local government, not to muse on the city's alienation from the vast territory that lies to the east. But I realized that the two are related, that there is a sense here that no one is watching, so why not line your pockets?"
He goes on to cover the basics of the investigation. Then he writes of the combination of factors community leaders have been touting as the second chance for greatness, of Fort Bliss and the medical school.
Burka writes: "Perhaps these developments will jolt El Paso's somnambulant business community, whose leaders have been generous with their philanthropy but largely indifferent to improving the lot of the minority population here. They have shown little interest in encouraging and embracing future leaders, as their counterparts in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio have been doing since the eighties.
"For the moment, however, El Paso's future rests with the FBI. Having started the crackdown on corruption, it must see things through to the end or else there will be anarchy and the longed-for boom will not occur. No one is going to pour energy and effort and dollars into a city with a crooked government. It's finally time to be part of Texas after all."
He goes from isolation to corruption, and somewhere in there concludes that corruption is endemic to El Paso, as though this did not happen in Dallas in October:
"A state representative, two former City Council members and a former Plan Commission member – along with a wealthy developer and 11 others – were accused of violating the public trust, fixing the system to steal money."
Or as though this did not happen in Houston in 1997:
"On Wednesday, six people, including two current and two former City Council members and two lobbyists, were indicted on Federal conspiracy and bribery charges."
Maybe it's that David Crowder, quoted by Burka, was right when he wrote that "The acute, under-the-skin awareness of being part of the Lone Star State is not something that El Paso lost somewhere along the line; it is a sense that El Paso never had."
Maybe we'd all be better off in New Mexico.
Actually, we might be much better off in New Mexico, but that's a different story. The point is, corruption is endemic to humans, not locations.
Remember that Houston Chronicle editorial from last summer, essentially blaming El Paso for being too Mexican?
Burka writes that outside of El Paso, and out of context, the corruption case "is just another crime story."
So he gives it context: It's El Paso's fault for lacking self-confidence, for failing to grow up and be part of Texas.
Unfortunately, judging from a quick Google search that found the examples above, it seems El Paso very much is a part of Texas.
What do you think?
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