Council ok's putting City Hall demolition on ballot

EL PASO, Texas -      City Council voted Monday to direct the city clerk to put on the ballot a proposed ordinance to stop the demolition of City Hall in order to build a Downtown ballpark.

     Still, several city reps are warning the public, don't expect to get to vote on it.

     City Rep. Eddie Holguin put this item on the Council agenda last minute, hoping to get council to approve putting the latest save City Hall initiative petition on the May ballot.

     But here's the issue with that:

     An Austin judge in the 261st District Court is expected to rule on the validity of the ballpark lawsuits on February 19. The demolition of City Hall, in order to make the April 2014 deadline for opening day of the new ballpark, is scheduled for late March and no later than early April.

     But the general election is not scheduled to take place until May 11, more than a month after City Hall is expected to be brought down.

     Several members of Council said they expect the judge to dismiss all of the petitions next week, making the decision to put the save the City Hall question on the May ballot a dead issue.

      Another problem is City Hall may already have been demolished by the time it goes to the ballot. Thus, City representatives Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega said after the meeting they do not expect Monday's vote to put the ballpark issue on the ballot to ever come to fruition.

     "It's already certified to go on the ballot," Byrd said. "It's coming forward next week. Just to make peace and get things going I voted for it."

     City representative Steve Ortega said the petitions are flawed.

     "Not only in my mind, but in the mind of the courts that reviewed them," Ortega said. "They will still have their process procedurally. But we think there are fatal flaws with the documents."

     If the judge rules in favor of the save the City Hall petitioners next week, which is not expected according to city officials, then council would get a final opportunity to approve or deny saving City Hall, thus stopping the ballpark, going on the May ballot.

     But again, only Holguin, who brought Monday's item forward and got what he asked for, thinks that's a possibility at this point.

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