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Entertainment Group Suing City Of El Paso

The regularly scheduled El Paso City Council meeting was anything but by-the-book Tuesday morning. Those in attendance saw a process server pass the barrier and serve a lawsuit to Mayor John Cook, City Manager Joyce Wilson, and four members of Council: Emma Acosta, Morgan Lilly, Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in a saga that dates back to 2009 when David Cooper, a member of Monaco Entertainment Group, was a part of the ownership team for the Dallas Nights Country Saloon once located in the 1800 block of Lee Trevino. According to the suit, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court, the plaintiff claims numerous ?bar checks? were performed that ultimately slowed the business until it was forced to close in 2011.

?The city, last year, cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars,? said Cooper, standing in front of Hawkins Plaza. ?We?re talking half a million dollars in impacted revenue last year alone.?

Cooper said the city has bullied him.

He trying to open a new club at Hawkins Plaza with Monaco Entertainment. Last year the El Paso City Council voted to allow Cook to write a letter of protest to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) trying to stop Cooper, and his associates, from renewing the old liquor license from his Dallas Nights club. Cooper said this is just the latest event in a pattern of harassment.

?Like all bullies, for whatever reason, they have underestimated their opponent in this situation,? Cooper said.

El Paso has a longstanding policy not to comment on pending litigation. Several calls have been made to the office of the city?s public information officer, but at the time this article was written no one has replied.

Cook did, however, react to his being served paperwork during a City Council meeting. Cook took exception to the tactics saying the council meeting should have been treated with more respect.

?Nothing ever surprises me when it comes to lawsuits, but I can?t accentuate enough that it is inappropriate for a process server to come to the dais when the meeting is going on,? Cook said. ?I did point that out to him, and he served us anyway.?

Members of the TABC said that the protest process usually results in a ruling within a few weeks, but it has already been roughly two months since the city petitioned the group. According to those in charge of the case, that?s because Cooper has yet to finish the license. Cooper said he?s in the process of reorganizing a new ownership group that will start fresh with a new liquor license.

?Now that they?ve been served, and they see I?m not joking, we?ll see if they want to protest after this,? said Cooper.

Several members of the Cielo Vista Neighborhood Association are also listed in the lawsuit: Irene Borunda, Mark Benitez, John Billingslea, and Anna Nazario are among the names listed.

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