But the Sanders plan, under the auspices of a new civic organization called the Paso del Norte Group, was different, PDNG was helmed by some of the most powerful businessmen in El Paso and Juarez, including oil billionaire Paul Foster, and Woody Hunt, who had made a fortune building military housing.
The city gave PDNG $250,000 to come up with a plan (a federal grant and membership funds provided the rest), and in March 2006, Sanders presented the result at the Plaza Theatre in downtown El Paso.
O'Rourke had still been a member of PDNG when he took his first vote on PDNG's plan, and he became a lightning rod for furious activists, who filed ethics complaints accusing him of various conflicts of interest.
O'Rourke's campaign was awash in money from leading El Paso Republicans, many of whom had been involved with PDNG and viewed him as the best candidate for the business community.
(O'Rourke came out against the arena.) When Sanders' PDNG lobbied the City Council to build a minor league baseball stadium downtown in 2012, they found a more creative way to evade issues of displacement--they bulldozed City Hall and built the stadium there.
Sanders was also the co-founder and leader of the Paso Del Norte Group (PDNG), a consortium of the mostly white business class in El Paso and the business class in Juarez, which held a kind of control over the combined city.
In February 2006, a city councilmember showed Romo a map of a redevelopment plan generated by PDNG that hadn't yet been made public.
Soon after, PDNG hired a marketing firm--one founded by Sanders's father--to present a vision for El Paso's future to the city council.
Indeed, PDNG's member list constituted O'Rourke's fundraising base when it came time to run for Congress, and a PAC that counted one of Sanders's companies among its major donors spent $240,000 to oppose Silvestre Reyes, his primary opponent in 2012.
Another is Prouchvane i Dobiv na Neft i Gaz (PDNG
), the heir to the old state-owned oil and gas communist-era company, which is the largest a and until recently the sole a Bulgarian extractor of hydrocarbon fuels (and is owned by the Chimimport conglomerate).