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El Paso ballpark foes file suit in federal court to shut down project

New El Paso Ballpark

Opponents of a new downtown El Paso ballpark for a Class AAA franchise have filed suit in U.S. District Court and invoked the Voting Rights Act, saying the siting of the facility was racially motivated.

We’re not so sure we see the logic of the lawsuit, but it makes some serious allegation against City Manager Joyce Wilson, saying she railroaded the effort to build a new $50-million ballpark for the relocating Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) in a way that discriminated against the local Latino population by not putting money into a community center. From Courthouse News:

They claim City Manager Wilson’s “personal and political activities are grounded in an animus which she feels and displays toward Mexican-American-Chicano members of the city’s population,” and that she has conspired against Latinos since 2004.

“She has demoted or replaced Mexican-American-Chicana women employees of the City with younger white men, or has fired outright Mexican-American-Chicano employees of the city who disagree with her on a given political position,” the complaint states….

The plaintiffs say architect Evan Rose [who consulted on the ballpark siting] did not seek better, alternative sites for the stadium. They say the city tried to seek public comment for the plan, parts of which will be on the November ballot under a “quality of life bond issue.”

Now, we’re not so conversant in the politics of El Paso to say whether anyone pushed a downtown ballpark because of animus toward the area Latino community. In general, the trend has been toward downtown ballparks in the last decade, a movement that’s usually shown to be a economically prudent game plan. And outside experts were brought in to look at all potential ballparks, including Cohen Stadium, early in the process. Invoking the Voting Rights Act seems to be an especially cynical approach to the issue, and while Voting Rights Act violations tend to get the quick attention of the court system, it may not be very applicable in this case.

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