[This post was edited on October 6, 2015 at 08:46ET to correct errors in John Romero’s name.] There is a saying that makes me laugh every time I hear it because when I finally understood it, I thought I was an English guru. I just thought it for a moment, so calm down grammar police. Anyway, when there is smoke there must be fire, although it makes me smile is actually a serious description of a problem. In this case, it is about the perception of corruption in corruption-laden El Paso.

In case you missed, Cindy Ramirez reported in the local paper about how Larry Romero’s brother setup a consulting company for Tommy Gonzalez. In the article “City manager hires rep’s brother to create firm” published on Sunday, October 4, 2015, Ramirez reports that John Romero is listed as the company organizer for G2 SDI Services, LLC., a company owned by the city manager, Tommy Gonzalez and his wife.

Ramirez is clear to point out that John Romero is unlikely a company owner, but rather a facilitator for registering the company with the State of Texas. John Romero refused to tell the newspaper how much he was paid for the work.

Although everything appears legal from what we know, there are some serious problems with how it looks, especially in El Paso, where public corruption is the norm, as evidenced by the number of public figures arrested on those charges in the last few years.

As you know, Larry Romero earlier in August led an effort that resulted in Tommy Gonzalez receiving a pay raise of $61,040. (link) Many in the community were angry about the process. Larry Romero posted the agenda item and initiated the vote that gave Gonzalez the substantial raise.

Later in August, it was revealed that streets that were not on the city’s approved list were resurfaced in Larry Romero’s district. (link) Larry Romero has refused to answer directly how it is that the streets in his district were resurfaced bypassing the city’s established and approved list. The resurfacing also bypassed an authorization by city council.

Under a city manager form of government, only the city manager can direct city staff to resurface streets. Tommy Gonzalez has stated that he does not know how the decision to resurface the streets in Romero’s district was arrived at, or who made the decision.

Now we learn that Larry Romero’s brother, John Romero, was paid to create a company for Tommy Gonzalez. We do not know the amount that was paid to him.

What we do know is that:
1. Tommy Gonzalez was given an unexpected raise of $61,040 through a process that is questionable at best and was initiated by Larry Romero.
2. Streets that were not on the approved city list were recently resurfaced in Larry Romero’s district. No one can articulate how it is that those streets were designated for resurfacing and who authorized the city work.
3. Tommy Gonzalez paid Larry Romero’s brother an untold amount to create a company for Tommy Gonzalez. Other than to state that Gonzalez wanted someone “local” and that John Romero was “referred” to him, Tommy Gonzalez has not disclosed how he arrived at the decision to hire John Romero for work that many in El Paso can do for him.

On the company’s website, John Romero lists himself as a “Tax Consultant/Financial Advisor” but he does not include any credential information. I would imagine that if he were a certified public accountant (CPA), or held a financial services credential that he would list them prominently on his business website. Because of the lack of listed credentials, I can only assume that he provides general bookkeeping services.

If that were the case, why would Tommy Gonzalez, who holds various certifications, not value higher education certifications such as a CPA or an attorney to create his company for him in order to avoid potential problems with mixing city business with his private company? I can only speculate about that, but adding it to what I outlined above, it sure doesn’t smell right to me.

Regardless, in a city that has been plagued by public corruption scandals and a general distrust of government by the taxpayers, it is just plain wrong that Tommy Gonzalez would add to the ill perception of the city by his activities.

If it stinks, there must be something rotten in there somewhere.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

15 replies on “If It Stinks It Cannot Be Good”

  1. Martin, you hit the nail ! Basic PR, perception is everything whether it’s true or not.

    He obviously saw a business opportunity in a city that has problems with contracts and development. Can’t blame him there. But, what the heck was he thinking when choosing partners or employees that have very close connections to city government. How in the world is he going to conduct business when he will have to explain every step of a contract especially if disputes or problems develop.

    He has created a minefield first himself. One misstep and he will immediately be accused of something. I suppose he could have done worse by directly running the company. What’s next, Peter Pan starting a trolley consulting firm? The Mayor creating a transportation consulting and vehicle contracting firm. Partners selling and repairing city vehicles ?

    It has to be in the water. Perception or deals just barely inside the law is the norm for El Paso. Even General Pittard states he did nothing wrong by steering contracts to former classmates. Legal or not, the perception caused him a reprimand. A reprimand for a General officer is a very serious matter. It’s not a slap on his hand.

    Oh well, some day El Paso will learn that stepping in dog poop doesn’t smell good and it doesn’t matter if you were in a dog park or walking on a city sidewalk.

  2. I actually thought Tommy deserved that raise because of what an outsider has to endure at the city especially if you’re not part of the past and current scenery. I a tally he believed he’d bring much needed change, transparency and integrity to the position. And perhaps he will, but his recent actions may prove me wrong. Then agsin, I recently set up an LLC only to find out that the individual designatwd himself as organizer without my permission and I had no idea he had done that until I received the paperwork from the state of texad!!

  3. Part 2: perhaps what I experienced happened to Tommy too. Because we have and value higher education doesn’t mean we understand the process of setting up LLC’S etc. I will say it is relatively simple and having paid a substantial amount, in retrospect, I should have set it up myself.

    1. sounds like BS to me Barbara. I have so many LLC’s set up and they were all done by my local attorney. The attorney then sends the info to my my accountant so he can file the taxes correctly and it wasn’t that much money to set one up. What cost the money is all the tax returns you have to have for each entity every year. Always wondered what the difference in cost would be comparing the accounting fees for each entity verses just carrying more liability insurance. You may find out the the Accountants cost more than the overloaded insurance.

  4. Martin, your reporting is impressive, but you need a full-time proofreader. In this article alone, you called John Romero “John Gonzalez” at least two times. There are more than a few errors in every story. It sabotages your credibility.

  5. What’s the big deal it’s El Paso, where we stand up against a movie but not corruption. Everyone forgot about the council member that won the cities deferred compansation contract while still in office, there was no conflict of interest, right! Tax breaks to drug dealers, deals here and there don’t matter because no one will do anything, hell those streets were allies hide from sight just recently popular due to the new bars. Corrupt as corrupt can be, from The Judge on the county side to the guy that came in already with the perfect name Tommy the Thief and he was still hired……..hell el Pasoans no need to commit petty crime just go into politics best crime community college tax dollars can buy!

  6. How was his raise not expected if it was clearly laid out at the time of hiring that his salary would be subject to market survey and raised to that level???? I mean, everyone knew a year ago that the job should be paying $300,000 and then when it came time to honor their agreement, council did so. I don’t know how that is unexpected.

  7. Like Caesar’s wife, the CM should be above reproach and this action with Romero sure doesn’t look good for him. But more than the action is that he wants to do consulting while employed by us. Aren’t we keeping him busy enough? Has the CC gone loco?

    I can’t stand this and I do know it is sometimes negotiated into a contract when the executive is something of a “luminary” in his field, something our CM certainly is not or he wouldn’t be CM here in Dumbfucistan. The average El Paso Jose earning $30K a year out of the back of his pickup truck can’t possible comprehend that his CM can leave his $300K job temporarily to do some outside “consulting.”

  8. city manager stories… you excel at character assination! Why is it that almost no one reads your paper!?

  9. Two things, don’t worry about the grammar critics, we know what you meant. Your creditability is good.

    What is laughable that Saul attacks your blog and states no one reads it, duh. Saul, if it is so offensive, why did you drop by? Duh, maybe facts irritate you.

  10. Gonzalez couldn’t find anyone to hire except the brother of Larry Romero? If it smells like corruption, it is corruption.

  11. Sounds like to me Tommy is setting up replacing City Employees with having the Private Sector bid it out. That is something I agree with but it looks like Tommy may want a piece from the companies for doing this. Create a consulting business so when everything is in line I can be the one to Consult the new City Manager in a few years so I can get out of the town, but still make money off of it. Imho that’s whats going on. Archuletta style ? Hire Red Oak consulting for PSB work while the whole time wanting to cash in on the head Job at Red Oak ? Is it possible ? They hired a local anyway.

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