gonzalz-letters-jun2016As you all know by now, the City of El Paso Ethics Commission issued two letters of reprimand to Tommy Gonzalez, the city manager. Both letters were issued on June 3, 2016, two days after the ethics commission held a hearing into the allegations made by Jim Tolbert against Gonzalez. There has been some comment as to why it has taken me so long to comment about the letters. Today, I’d like to address that and what the letters mean, in terms of Gonzalez’ actions and the future of the city manager in El Paso.

First, let me let you know that I had to take some time to understand what the letters mean. Maybe it is because English is my third language, but I was at a loss to understand what a “letter of admonition” is, or a “letter of notification” is. It also doesn’t help that everyone, the chairman of the ethics commission and the city attorney, all agree that there are some problems with the ethics ordinances governing the whole process. There is no appeal process, either to an ethics complaint that is rejected or to appeal a decision of the ethics commission. That is obvious problem.

Regarding the use of the term, “admonition” it really just means that the letter issued to Gonzalez is a “reprimand” of one of the activities he was charged with under the ordinance. Knowing that it is a reprimand makes it easier to understand what happened.

The “Letter of Admonition” is a reprimand of Tommy Gonzalez by his employer, the City of El Paso, for “recklessly disregarding an applicable policy or procedure by authorizing the installation of speed humps on Stanton Street.” Under the City’s ethics ordinance, it is the ethics commission that is the disciplinarian of the city manager on behalf of the elected officials.

In everyday terms, what it means is that the City of El Paso is notifying its employee, Tommy Gonzalez, that his conduct in regards to the speed humps violated the city’s code of conduct. Letters of reprimand normally state the violation and the punishment, if any. In this case, Gonzalez was notified of the violation and the punishment, which is a permanent black mark on his city manager resume.

In essence, anytime Tommy Gonzalez applies for a future job, his future employer would get a copy of the letter if they perform a previous employer verification request.

The second letter, the “Letter of Notification” is a letter that most of you reading this has issued or received before. Simply, a letter of notification is a letter advising someone of an important issue. For example, if you have lived in an apartment and have moved out, you likely issued a letter to your landlord letting them know you are moving out and the date you would be leaving. You may have received a letter of notification advising you that you have been hired by your present employer. A letter of notification can be as simple as complaining about bad service. Some of the letters of notification may carry with them legal issues attached to them. In essence, a letter of notification can best be described as a “cover your ass” letter to protect you against future litigation.

In the case of Tommy Gonzalez, the “Letter of Notification” advised him that he “recklessly” disregarded a city policy in regards to the him “authorizing the resurfacing of an unqualified alley in City Representative District Two.”

What Does It All Mean?

The two letters, as has been described in the news media, are the two lesser punishments that could have been given out to Tommy Gonzalez.

It is my belief that the politics of the city forced the ethics commission to find something that could be articulated against Tommy Gonzalez for political purposes.

There are many rumors as to the politics behind this. Many of them revolve around the notion that there are political factions working to do away with the city manager form of government. David Karlsruher has articulated that Eliot Shapleigh and his cohorts, Susie Byrd and Veronica Escobar are behind this in order to regain control over the city politics. There is also the argument that the city’ ethics commission had to do something because to do otherwise would further the public perception that the city is corrupt. Then there is the ongoing feud between the Claudia Ordaz and the city manager as well as the normal political posturing by the politicos.

I think it is all of the above with the exception of the movement to do away with the city manager form of government. I am sure it exists but it is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

As for Tommy Gonzalez, let us face it, the two letters are nothing more than a professional embarrassment for him.

Did he deserve them?

No, because the allegations against him are nothing more than mistakes or misjudgments on his part. It is obvious, by the letters, that Tommy Gonzalez did not have any lapses in ethics in regards to the complaints filed against him.

The letters are the worst kind of politics.

This is more obvious when you consider that the former city manager, Joyce Wilson has admitted publicly that she delayed the sale of the ballpark bonds costing the city upwards of $20 million.

Unfortunately, the city’s ethics laws are so outdated and ill-conceived that there is nothing that can be done in regards to Joyce Wilson through the city’s ethics commission. As of today, to my knowledge, no one has filed a complaint against Joyce Wilson with the City of El Paso Ethics Review Commission so the point is moot. Even if a complaint were to be filed, it is doubtful it would be forwarded by the city attorney’s office to the ethics commission.

At best, Tommy Gonzalez will swallow his pride and continue to work with the city council professionally but, likely, with animosity against certain city officials, or at worst, Tommy Gonzalez will retaliate to the detriment of the city’s taxpayers.

The whole fiasco rests on the fact that the City of El Paso is ethically challenged at all levels by the fact that the city’s ethics laws are an incomplete mess being used for political shenanigans.

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 Tommy Gonzalez Letters of Reprimand”

  1. Martin, you didn’t hold back and stated like it is ! Hand clap to you ! For the council and ethics circus, well I think most of you know what I give them.

    The perv is crowing about the west side pool ladies getting possibility obtaining a thousand signatures and thought it laughable and insignificant because it would be 1000 out of 700, 000. That’s strange, he called a little over 1000 votes for Tolbert a mandate and a landslide. Whoa, the bs is so obvious.

    Then he goes into a sad, sniff, sniff story about the people that have lousy parks and have to do without. Odd, he thought it was a great idea to prioritize a trolley, a super sized TV screen, a PARK that still isn’t finished. Toilets that will have to be leased which in the long run will cost more than installing toilets.

    He is part of the lying and bs brigade. I crinch when, he calls himself a veteran or a NCO. It gives the active duty and former active duty members a bad name. His personal and so called professional conduct is so disgusting that thanks goodness he is no longer in the service ! Gomer or Beetle.

    I can’t believe that Escobar and Ordaz are still associating with him, perhaps it’s more like using him. That’s all he’s good for.

  2. The bigger question is why isn’t more scrutiny being placed on his consulting activities and given the unneeded $60k pay raise he got that brought his salary back to former levels, why is he even allowed to consult? Look no further than Bill and Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees to see how easily this can be abused.

  3. Susie Byrd started the complaints about street resurfacing in District 2 because her street didn’t get done. She called the Times, then Tolbert. All part of the attempt to get rid of a non-Shapleighite representative and city manager

  4. Susie’s house needs to be reported with all the crap in her “environmentally” pristine front yard. She no doubt started the finger pointing. This whole group of Caballero cool aide drinking minions has had a difficult time giving up control, so now they got Tolbert to muddy the already slip sliding council. I can’t think how much animosity was created by Tolbert when he called them worthless and stupid on TV right before he was sworn in. All the districts need paving and i remember the issue of the alleys was an EPA mandate about keeping down dust. Where did that money go that was allocated? There’s a story for you Martin. Tommy has done good work but he has detractors inside the council as well as in the employees, especially those who were hired by Byrd, Ortega, Lilly, Cook, and Beto. I’d want to slash my wrist if i had ORDAZ and LIMON as a boss, now add TOLBERT. I think we’re about to lose a good city manager.
    Oh and you can also blame the TIMES, and Bob Moore the head minion. What a job they’re doing on Tommy. I would think it fringes on libel.

  5. Sad most of you do not get it. This was mostly about diverting your attention away from the city doing nothing about Wilson actions and what it cost you the tax payers. Hey it worked! What Tommy did was nothing worse than school yard, school boy antics compared to what Wilson did.

  6. There’s a feud between La India Maria and Tommy? Is someone from the county telling her how to feud with him? For once I agree with Thomas.

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