The group that made big promises about raising money for a downtown Mexican-American Cultural Center now says that they are in debt to the tune of over $60,000 and not only can they not raise the millions of dollars they said they were going to, they want the City to reallocate downtown arena money to pay for the majority of the Center.

KFOX reports that City officials told the Mexican-American Cultural Institute that they cannot move money from the arena to the Center, and the project will have to stay within its $5.75 million dollar budget as per the 2012 Quality of Life bond project.

Ironic, I know, that the City is saying they won’t give any more money than is in the budget to the Center because they are contemplating using Certificates of Obligation for the arena and have used them in the past for the ballpark, but I digress.

District Attorney Jaime Esparza and former El Paso City Rep. Emma Acosta had big plans for the Center, but Esparza and his group have not only not raised any money, they’ve driven the project even further in debt. Acosta told the El Paso Times that when she first came up with the idea for the project, she had no idea that the $5 million budget would be nowhere near enough to complete it. The City has already restructured debt to give the Center $10 million, and now they want more?

I know that when the ballpark was being built I was out there beating the drums to get it built, and I know that taxpayer money in the form of the General Fund has been used to cover costs, but the plain fact of the matter is, the ballpark will be a money maker for the city. People go to the ballpark, they spend money there, and it will eventually be paid off.

A Mexican-American cultural center is a ridiculous idea because we already have an El Paso Museum of History. Instead of renovating the Abraham Chavez theater, we should put taxpayer money into the Museum of History and tell the history of all the ethnicities that make up El Paso. The entire city is a Mexican-American cultural center. We need to celebrate all the different peoples who have helped make our city such an amazing place to live.
Clearly the Mexican-American Cultural Institute had no idea how little interest their fundraising would generate. Let’s move on and build a cultural center for all El Pasoans.

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