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.