El Paso

City Rep. Noe: No regrets about not participating in Duranguito-arena vote

City Rep. Noe: No regrets about not...

EL PASO, Texas - Earlier this week, City Council reversed course on the arena project, deciding to move forward with a study to see if the convention center is a better site for the arena than the Duranguito Neighborhood.

Not everyone was on board. The vote was 4 to 2 in favor of the study.

City representatives Emma Acosta and Claudia Ordaz voted against it. Carl Robinson and Dr. Michiel Noe did not vote, avoiding a possible tie, in which case Mayor Oscar Leeser would serve as tiebreaker.

ABC-7 spoke with several members of council about what now appears to be a divided council.

Some members of council were upset over a controversial meeting last week about the arena site to which some were not invited. An ethics complaint has been filed against Leeser, as well as city representatives Cortney Niland, Jim Tolbert, Lily Limon, and Peter Svarzbein.

The complaint accuses them of holding the meeting -- to discuss the arena project -- without public notice last Friday.

"I have no regrets about not voting, no," Noe told ABC-7. "If it were to happen all over again, I would have probably left sooner."

Noe said he doesn't feel like he let his constituency down by not voting on the arena site this week.

"I didn't feel comfortable participating in it because I wasn't sure it was a legal process that we were following," Noe added. "They pay me to vote. They pay me to be involved in it. They pay me to ask questions. They don't pay me to go to jail. I'm not going to do that for anybody."

Attempts to reach Robinson, who also did not cast a vote, were unsuccessful.

City Rep. Emma Acosta, who was not at last Friday's meeting and voted against changing the arena site, told ABC-7: "You get elected to make the tough decisions and you owe it to your constituency to vote one way or another."

"I don't think we did anything wrong," said Tolbert, who voted for the arena site change and was part of last Friday's meeting and is confident no laws were broken. "Quorum was never broken. There was no conspiracy not to have a quorum, it was simply one of those things trying to talk to the people involved. Unfortunately something like this has caused some division, I can see that, and some disappointment."

"Until I'm comfortable that the process was legal, I'm much more comfortable just sitting aside letting them to what they've decided to do," Noe said.

Rep. Lily Limon, who led the arena site change effort, told ABC-7 she was against the Duranguito site from the start. She added it was Noe and Robinson's right not to choose not to vote.


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