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Fed judge spanks El Paso ballpark opponents; petitions to be considered today

New El Paso ballpark

It appears there’s little gas left in the tank for new-ballpark opponents in El Paso, as a federal judge fines the group $5,000 for basically wasting the court’s time in trying to move a lawsuit from state to federal court.

In addition, it doesn’t look like there’s much chance two petitions challenging the ballpark funding plan and demolition of City Hall will be meaningfully approved by the City Council, which is prepping for a bond sale.

The $50-million new ballpark, slated to open in 2014 and hosting the relocating Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), is being financed by the city and will be built on the current City Hall site. City employees have already begun moving out of City Hall, and demolition could begin as soon as next month, once lawsuits and procedural issues are settled. Two petitions ask that City Hall be saved, but the point is probably moot: even if the City Council agrees to put the question to voters in May, the building will probably be torn down by then.

The ballparl opponents also failed in their effort to move a lawsuit opposing the bond sale from state court to federal court. How badly did they fail? From the El Paso Times:

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said the El Pasoans wanting to move a state lawsuit over the demolition of City Hall into a federal court “engaged in bad-faith conduct designed to intentionally delay the adjudication of the three state court cases.”

Sparks fined the group $5,000. It includes former El Paso Mayor Ray Salazar and Richard Najera, Julie Reynolds, Guillermo Acosta, Othon Medina, Jesus B. Ochoa Jr. and their attorney Paul C. Moreno, a former state legislator. The members of that group didn’t return calls seeking comment, and Ochoa declined to comment on the matter.

Image courtesy of Populous.

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