The City Manager Pay Increase

pay-raiseAs you likely know, Tommy Gonzalez, the city’s City Manager, was awarded a $61,040 pay raise by city council on Tuesday. To write that the community is indignant is an understatement. Universally the distaste in the pay raise is based on how the city council handled the measure, as if that’s a surprise to anyone, and because the city’s employees weren’t awarded a raise as well. Intermixed within the ire, is the proposed city tax increases and the numerous projects that have been mishandled by the city.

The blogosphere and the social media outlets have pretty much covered the many reasons why the community is against the pay raise. Some voters have started demanding that their city representatives revisit this issue. Among the issues already covered are the egregious amount of the raise, the timing of it and, of course, the city’s failed projects, like the San Jacinto project. Included in the anger is that, although city employees received a bonus, some of those opposed to Tommy Gonzalez’ pay raise argue that the city’s employees should be given a raise before the city manager is given one.

Although the hypocrisy of how some on city council voted has been touched upon by the debate on the issue, today I want to point out some of the duplicity in more detail.

Only Lily Limon and Carl Robinson voted against the pay raise. Oscar Leeser, as the mayor, only votes to break a tie, however, he has publicly stated that he is against the pay raise. Larry Romero, along with Michiel Noe pushed forth the measure to award Gonzalez the pay raise. Romero stated to KVIA that Tommy Gonzalez had nothing to do with the pay raise and, according to Romero, did not ask any city representative for one.

I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on three important issues.

The Process

As is typical with city council that tries to pass controversial issues under the radar, Tommy Gonzalez’ raise was brought up, superficially discussed and passed without any prior notice to the community. No effort was made by Larry Romero, the self-proclaimed proponent of the raise, to bring this issue up for community debate through the news media or through prior notice.

I cannot prove it, because conspiracies are purposely shrouded in secrecy, but it is my belief that the raise was discussed among certain city representatives. If that were the case then those who participated, illegally I might add, would have felt comfortable knowing that they had the votes in place to push the measure through.

Consider this; Larry Romero is unlikely to have pushed forth this measure without knowing that it was likely to pass. He had to have felt comfortable knowing that he had the votes necessary for it to pass. How would he know that without discussing the issue with others?

The other thing to consider is that the threat of a veto by the mayor is subsided when you consider that the mayor is unlikely to publicly rescind a city council vote awarding the city manager a substantial raise. The process allows the mayor, whether he means it or not, to argue that he is against the raise while taking the position that to veto the vote would go against a democratically taken vote.

It is a win, win situation for Leeser. I consider it unlikely that he would veto the measure as it would destroy the façade he is trying to create of a functioning city council.

Claudia Ordaz & Peter Svarzbein

Claudia Ordaz voted on Monday against giving the city’s employees a $1,000 one-time bonus. Ordaz argued that she did not want the bonus to affect the city’s tax rate. Claudia Ordaz was referring to the one-time bonuses that would end up raising taxes.

Like, Ordaz, Peter Svarzbein voted against giving the city’s employees a one-time $1,000 bonus. Svarzbein also argued against raising taxes.

Yet, both Ordaz and Svarzbein voted to give Tommy Gonzalez the $60,040 pay raise. Although Gonzalez’ pay raise does not necessitate a tax increase the inconvenient question becomes, what message are Ordaz and Svarzbein sending to the city employees by their votes.

Ordaz and Svarzbein were the only two votes against giving the employees their one-time bonus.

Had Ordaz and Svarzbein voted against the pay raise for the city manager it is likely the raise would not have been approved.

Oscar Leeser

Although I already alluded to it at the beginning, it is worth repeating here again.

There is some discussion, emanating principally from Lily Limon about having Oscar Leeser veto the vote on the pay raise for the city manager. I am not really convinced that Oscar Leeser would exercise his veto power, regardless of the political rhetoric he expresses about the pay raise. Leeser is attempting to add to the façade that all is well at the city and a veto would expose that as a lie.

Vetoing a pay raise for the city manager will put pressure on Tommy Gonzalez to look elsewhere for the simple reason that having city council takeaway the pay raise, once it was given to him, will expose how dysfunctional the city government is.

9 thoughts on “The City Manager Pay Increase

  1. Martin, the previous topic of Gonzalez’s family being unhappy was most likely the driving force to award such an outrageous raise and pacify the masses. Why would his family be unhappy? Iif you were born and raised here you probably will not understand. I by no means intent to insult anyone.

    For newcomers, regardless of ethicity experience a cultural shock. People feel out of place and lost. The language, beliefs, customs, etc is absolutely different than most places. Some will adjust faster and better than others. But it is a shock much like going overseas to work. The insults towards her husband is another factor. Back to the previous point, imagine moving from an upscale, more professionals, more modern ideas, more commonality in many areas. El Paso is just very different.

    Many guess is Romero and Noe discussed the raise once they heard about the family wanting to leave. Leaving just when things are getting on track. They know not one city rep, despite their bloated egos, can run this city. They know the city is ripping at the seams with fiascos and stupidity. They’re feeling the heat from the public. And they should, someone needs to keep their feet to the fire. To heck with their idea of being crowned and then doing nothing. They just wanted the title, build a legacy and use the position as a stepping stone.

    There’s no way that the raise just popped in Romero’s cavity. They all knew that such a big raise will affect the budget. Whether they admit it or not. The peons will walk around happy with a mere one time bonus. Typical ploy and reaction by the peons to manipulate future political votes.

    I know the temperatures have been high, maybe that explains the raise idea by Romero and Noe. It definitely affected the idea that El Paso is completing with the two other towns. I suppose it’s that “other city” fixation. Can’t El Paso just be El Paso and quit worrying other cities.

  2. My problem with Leeser is that he has not only failed to keep his word to the voters of El Paso, but now that he is in office, he is the very embodiment of what kind of Mayor John Cook wanted. We certainly don’t need a strong Mayor, when we have, first, an overbearing City Manager (Queen Joyce), and a Council that also exists for only one purpose – the furtherment of the wishes of the elite, while grasping as much power as each is able to do. This raise is not only an insult to all city employees, but to the tax payers of El Paso, as well. Meanwhile, our streets continue to fall apart, and nothing is being done to repave any of them! Businesses are closing because the city’s actions fail to support them (The block formerly known as the “Barmuda Triangle”), and downtown is just as dead as its always been! City Council: Fail

  3. San Jacinto came along under the former city manager – she was told it was a bad bid and went forward anyway. Gonzalez was left holding the bag. It’s not his fault.

  4. It’s a big mess. Time to put the strong mayor back on the ballot and close that waste of money office right away,

  5. Davidk is right about San Jacinto not being Tommy’s problem. However, you never heard him trash the Witch when she went forward with it. Funny thing is that even at the adjusted 6 million, its still cheaper than the other 2 bidders at 7 plus million. Can you say “possible Collusion” on the other 2 bidders ?

  6. Dungan is right on with his comment. Leeser is a quiet but not because he is lisening to our concerns but because he is scheming.

  7. Is it not the policy of a pay raise not only earned but incremental……could these clowns not have given him a 5% raise, oh let’s say like a police officer or a firefighter or city employee. By the way city employees have not had a raise in years!!! The citizens took to the vote to get the Firefighters because as it was stated by Ol Tommy and Clown Council that the coffers were empty and their raises were out of the question. Is the white elephant baseball field loosing revenue annually despite the great bowl-a- thon. ..and exaggeration of the hot tax using those same numbers. As for the unfinished fiasco projects with deep pockets, regardless of Joyce Wilson or Nilanco or whom ever, the responsibility stops at his door. Let me state this HE DID NOT DESERVE A 38% RAISE….NO WAY IN HELL. As for these embarrassing members of clown council you definitely do not deserve a plug nickel except to be voted out entirely.

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