By now you have probably had an opportunity to view the open records documents I posted yesterday about the firing of Steve Norwood. As you likely know, Steve Norwood is the county’s first County Manager. He was fired last month for absences and tardiness. I am frequently critical of Veronica Escobar’s expenditure of your tax dollars and public policy agenda, but in the case of Steve Norwood, Escobar took the action that was needed to be taken, she fired him. Yes, I realize that officially it was the county commissioners that fired him, but in reality, she took the led the charge.
There are two things that I want to focus on today in my commentary. The first is that government transparency works. The second is how the county handled the Norwood case.
As I wrote yesterday, this open records experience is the best one I have had with an El Paso governmental entity. It shows that government transparency is something that is good for the community and when it works, as it should, it shows that government is doing what it should.
I received the information that I needed to explain the reason for the action taken by the county government while at the same time keeping certain information confidential and protecting the privacy of those involved. In essence it put to rest the rumormongering and gave us the facts that the community needs in order to understand what transpired.
I can honestly state that in this case, the County dealt with me fairly and transparently.
The second issue that I want to comment on is how the county commissioners handled the firing, especially Veronica Escobar. It should be noted that Escobar spent considerable political capital creating the county manager position. I disagree with the need for a centralized position spending tax dollars that is not accountable directly to the taxpayers. However, Veronica Escobar was put in a bad political position by Steve Norwood. This is especially true because not only is he the first County Manager but the controversy of the children’s hospital was raging while Escobar was dealing with being forced to fire her first county manager.
The easy thing for Escobar would have been to attempt to cover up the whole mess and pretend “all is good” in El Paso. She could have ignored the problem for as long as she could, at least waiting until the children’s controversy had subsided before taking action.
The open records documents clearly showed that Escobar realized she had a problem on her hands and took the steps necessary to rectify them. She tried to get Steve Norwood to focus on work and when that failed she took steps to remove him.
As a business owner, I know how hard it is to terminate an employee. The legal system seems to be about fairness but in reality it is about how much money can be wasted to get a desired result. It has been my experience that it is seldom about what is fair but rather who has the stamina and money to get a desired result.
It is easy to criticize Veronica Escobar for paying the one-month severance pay to Steve Norwood. We all know that the tax dollars were not earned. However, the alternative of prolonging the fight through lawyers would have cost the taxpayers much more.
We know this because we have the facts.
Martin, there was transparency this time. It should be transparency and the truth every time.
The reason for the transparency is because it was a truth of Convience. Norwood was a small fry in the scheme of things at the county. A sacrificial lamb. She needed something to distract, get the media off her back and give the appearance of good management. Norwood gave it all to her. The perfect opportunity.
Yes, he needed to go, but was he any worse than the rest? No, don’t think so if you consider all the underhanded politics on the county’s dime. Vince, his assistant, Abeytia all on the county’s dime. She could have pressured Vince to fire his assistant and took action only after public outcry about the con. She’s always gone, there’s not that many meetings everyday. Those that believe that are fools. All the commissioners disappear, 2 hrs or more lunches, numerous events, etc. the only difference is Norwood worked for her and he was convient. Where’s the accountability for all those meetings and events (wink) they have to attend daily?
Norwood screwed up and the others, it continues.
Martin, this was no act of transparency or good government. It was a truth of convience. Norwood served the purpose.
Not one red cent if the county had the grounds to fire Norwood. Martin do you ever think that you were used as a convenient vehicle to meet an ends. That all of the sudden the county wanted to play nice with Martin after thumbing their noses at you in the past. No Martin not one dime if all was above board in the firing of Norwood. Martin this would set the county up in that every time the county fires some one they would know just threaten to sue and the county will give you money to go away.
Hold up, Thomas. Are you saying Paredes is Escobar’s “useful idiot”?
We are not saying Martin is Escobar’s boy but Martin is being a little on the naïve side to someone’s interest and motives at the county in release the information on Norwood that they did. Remember there are protections on employer releasing employee information guess our County Attorney’s office may have over looked this. Also Vero just let Norwood’s lawyer know they have a grounds for law suit and he could walk away with more money than what Vero and the county is offering. In Vero getting in front of the media yesterday a good lawyer would have told her not to with a possible law suit in the wings but In Vero’s case you can’t help stupid.
She did the right thing and she did it in the right way in spite of the “political capital” it cost her. Have any of you ever been in a similar situation where the person you advocated for screws up? In the Mafia, you both end up in the East River.
Martin is right on this one.
Yes but did not give them a free pass and pay them for being a screw up. Vero should have keep her month shut and let the lawyers handle it. Jerry you watch because of Vero the county will end up paying more and when I say the County I do mean the tax payers who foot the bill for such non-sense as a county manager and now having to pay him off to go away. Geez and some of you can’t under stand why people are leaving El Paso because you are over taxed with poor out comes by local government you get from your tax dollars. Yep politicians like Vero get you guys to pay for a Ferrari and she gives you a Yugo.
Compared to the city, that puts people on permanent leave at full pay for a year, we got off cheap.
Ok I stand corrected the Texas AG did sign off on information released on Norwood. Also Norwood should get nearly 15 thousand under the agreement with the county on condition he signs the agreement not to sue the county and other terms. So the question now stands why Norwood did not sign the agreement unless he believe he was wrongly terminated. If part of the problem was with a family member for the reasons for his absents which Vero do refer to in her e-mail than did he have legal grounds to believe he was not in violation of his agreement with the county? Let see if a suit is brought by Norwood this will tell the story of what went on.
The bottom line is we never needed a county manager which shows Vero once again forcing what she wants on tax payer without giving us a vote.
Once again, as I said before, the voters had no participation in creating this scam of a county manager. This is truly a scam, as politicians who claim to get the support of the public spend a lot of money by a public that never gave the consent to change the form of government. V. Escobar in her arrogance, is only protecting her appearance and stature in the county, nothing else. She knows that she was the main part of creating this sham of a position with the help of her minions that were and still are sitting on Commissioning Con-Court. If you really look at the votes, how many actually got V Escobar into office…probably less than 2% of the voting public.
The county is a con-game and for the most part the City of El Paso is too busy providing services, and is also a deceptive con device. LIttle government, as we are supposed to know, goes on with the county and the city. Usually, a myriad of deceptive programs, fines, fees, services which extort the general public to pay to receive or not receive the services and/or penalties. El Paso public, for the most part, will probably never wake up.
You are absolutely right James. The position was only needed because Escobar is incompetent as an administrator according to my friends who work at the county.
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