In a four-page letter released Friday afternoon, State Sen. José Rodríguez responded to members of El Paso City Council and Mayor Dee Margo who, earlier in the week, wrote Rodríguez an open letter following his controversial comments in Texas Monthly magazine.
Rodríguez was quoted: “To capture what El Paso really is, you need to accept the Mexicanness, the Mexican American, and indigenous roots of El Paso,” he says. “There’s too many people who say, ‘I want us to move away from that. I want us to be like Gringolandia, like all the other homogenized American cities.’ El Paso is unique. You can’t find a place like this anywhere.”
The council’s letter asserted that Rodríguez’s comments were “inaccurate and one-sided.” They wrote: “We do not respect your comments that seek to divide, insult, and hamper efforts to continue El Paso’s renaissance – especially when coming from El Paso’s state senator. We ask that in the future you carefully consider your comments as it relates to our proud and emerging community.”
City councilwoman Cassandra Hernandez Brown and County Commissioner Vince Perez called for a public apology from Rodríguez following the publication of the Texas Monthly article.
Rodríguez’s letter did not address the controversial “gringolandia” comment. And it did not offer an apology. Rodríguez instead laid out a criticism of the way council has handled the proposed multipurpose performing arts and entertaining facility also known as the “arena” project.
“Frankly, it is irresponsible for the City to continue to claim that El Pasoans approved a downtown sports arena. That is simply not true,” Rodríguez wrote. “We voted for a ‘quality of life’ bond that included among other items, library improvements, a children’s museum, a Hispanic Cultural Center, and a multipurpose performing arts and entertainment facility. The words “sports” or “sports arena” are nowhere to be found on the ordinance or the ballot.’
Rodríguez also criticizes the city’s assertion that it was not responsible when private property owners in the arena master plan began to tear down their own buildings on Sept. 12.
“ … the City claimed to be powerless to halt the demolition of buildings in Duranguito in the face of a decision by the 8th Court of Appeals that showed utter disregard for the Court’s order, at worst, and a lack of good faith, at best,’ he wrote.
Rodríguez’s letter reiterates his request on Sept. 19 before council that a 24-hour police presence be authorized in Duranguito to protect the buildings, that the damaged buildings be fortified and, that the city remove the requirement of private property owners to demolish their properties.
‘I will continue to work with the City on the many issues that affect our community, but personal attacks that I am opposed to progress in El Paso or that my remarks were intended to create racial division are simply unwarranted and unproductive. After more than 40 years of public service, my record speaks for itself.”
To read the letter in its entirety, click the attachment above.