When the city of El Paso voted to convert themselves into a city manager type of government, removing the administrative duties from the city council and giving it to a city manager, the proponents celebrated that El Paso was on the verge of moving away from corrupt practices into a city governed by professionals. The argument centered on the notion that policy decisions were to be made by the elected officials and they would be implemented by the city manager.

The idea is that the elected officials create public policy, as a whole, thus giving all taxpayers equal access to the formulation of the public policy. It is expected that politics will continue to play a part of the process, however the idea was that the decisions made, as a body, would benefit the entire voter base.

Political hijacking of public policy has always existed. It is most obvious in how public monies are allocated to things such as streets, with certain neighborhoods, the ones with deeper the pockets to buy politicians with, receiving the best benefits, in this case streets.

Thus it is very poignant that streets are representative of the failure of the city manager form of government in El Paso, specifically the Larry Romero streets.

In case you missed it, you should read “Speed humps near Cathedral violate city policy,” written by Cindy Ramirez for the El Paso Times. It is an exposé that delves deep into how speed bumps were installed in front of Cathedral High School. I can’t tell you when the piece was published because I could not find a date on the online version of the paper. However, I know that it showed up sometimes on Saturday late, or on Sunday morning on November 1, 2015.

By the way, these are the types of articles a local newspaper, like the El Paso Times should be publishing.

In Ramirez’ write up, we learn that Cathedral High School received some traffic calming devices from the city. The humps apparently violate city policy and circumvented the city’s policies it has adopted in regards to processes and street projects.

The city spent $9,000 to install the speed humps without approval of the city council, as a matter of fact, city council was purposely bypassed, according to the newspaper article. Additionally, the humps violate city policy.

If you look closely at what has been exposed, you will note that Cathedral High School lobbied Larry Romero, an alumnus of the high school, to avoid having to spend $60,000 to $100,000. I have already shared with you numerous examples of how the Catholic Diocese circumvents processes for its own benefit so that this latest example should not surprise any of you. As to why and how the Diocese does this is something that the Catholics in El Paso should look inwardly and asks themselves if that is something that the Christian Faith should tolerate.

As for the taxpayers, the issue is of the abuse of power that Larry Romero has been in the center of in numerous examples. As we all know, Larry Romero orchestrated a $61,000 raise for Tommy Gonzalez, the city manager. Romero’s brother also got a business deal from Tommy Gonzalez.

While all of this is going on, Larry Romero gets some streets/alleyways resurfaced although they were not in city council’s master plan for street repairs. Now we find out that Larry Romero’s high school received speed bumps that not only violate city policy, bypassed city council but additionally allowed them to avoid spending money to resolve a problem they had.

Ramirez’ article clearly lays out how the policies were violated and how the process was allowed to happen at the behest of Larry Romero with the help of the city manager, Tommy Gonzalez.

The city manager position is supposed to eliminate crony politics by forcing public policy decisions out in the open, through the elected officials, while ensuring they are professionally implemented through the city manager.

However, that is not what is happening in the case of Larry Romero.

What is instead happening is that Tommy Gonzalez receives a substantial raise at the behest of Romero and Larry Romero spends taxpayer monies, through Gonzalez, for political favors.

This is crony politics at their worst and likely signify serious corruption problems at the city.

The last time the FBI investigated public corruption it was centered at the County. Although the city was linked to much of the corruption, it seems no one bothered to investigate the city.

Maybe it is time someone did. They should start with Larry Romero and Tommy Gonzalez.

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...

6 replies on “The Failure of the City Manager Form of Government in El Paso”

  1. City manager system doesn’t work in El Paso because of the unethical conduct, cronyism and corruption. It works well in other cities and is the new form. of governing.

    I’m not sure what works in El Paso. The officials are inept along with the other fallacies they have. I know one of the main problems is the lack of interested or informed voters. The Democrats pride themselves on their control of the region even though they are ineffective. The Republicans, well, they have a headquarters what else is to be said. There is no real leadership in El Paso only people pre-elected by the controllers.

    The question is, are people that stupid or naive or brain washed. I know people walk quoting TV political pundits as their source of information. Duh, there are no more reporters only idelogical puppets. Learn to think for yourself not think what someone tells you. The other issue is don’t dare ask for clarification of an issue because the vulgarity and yelling starts. As though one party has the all the answers.

    I don’t understand why the local federal, state, county or city law enforcement just adopt a lackadaisical attitude about the the problems. Some of them are so obvious but no one bothers to investigate. No one has said a word about the hospital fraud or special justice for the public officials.

    I don’t think any form of government will work in El Paso until the people get serious about getting rid of the bums, all of them.

  2. You might be a tad late and off on this one! I know for a fact those speed humps have been there for at least 3-5 years. This smells of ol Joyce and Byrd, or Joyce and Ol Cort……but still the heavy I mean heavenly hand of the diocese is right there to guide.

  3. To have an elected body make policy assumes they are smart enough to understand what policy is versus sniping at each other.

  4. What stands out about this is that they have been there for almost a year and the city, including Niland, knew they were not in accordance with the rules set forth yet no one took steps to remove them.
    It took a newspaper article that I am sure was instigated by people complaining to the Times to get to the truth.

    The problem is not just the Diocese/Cathedral calling in a favor from Romero along Gonzales and circumventing procedure, it is with Niland and any other City official, department manager and city legal department knowing it had been done.

    So what happens when the trolley line goes in? Pull up two of them so everyone heading North on Stanton just drives around them anyways? Or pull them all up at another waste of our tax dollars?

    All other school districts follow procedure and pay for expenses like this but the one school that should be “setting an example of honest dealings” decided it deserved better.

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