The deception to cover up the $20+ million because of the delay of the bonds continues. In the latest installment, city council spent over four hours in executive session discussing Tommy Gonzalez. As with all cover ups, this latest deception is hidden behind the argument of “personnel matters.” However, as usual, not all is what it seems.
It all started with Bob Moore targeting Tommy Gonzalez through Larry Romero. We were all subjected to endless articles in the local paper persuading readers that Tommy Gonzalez was corrupt. To be clear, the El Paso Times was not tiptoeing around the notion that Tommy Gonzalez may be corrupt, but rather Bob Moore published an editorial demanding that Tommy Gonzalez be fired immediately. This was before the Ross Fisher report was made public.
The Ross Fisher report, itself, was a direct response to the many allegations being levied against both Larry Romero and Tommy Gonzalez. Make no mistake, the target of Bob Moore’s newspaper was not Romero but rather Tommy Gonzalez. Romero was just the convenient path with which to get Gonzalez fired.
When the Ross Fisher report proved that Tommy Gonzalez was not the corrupt figure the local newspaper had portrayed him to be, city officials panicked and announced that Tommy Gonzalez was put on a “Performance Improvement Plan,” or performance action plan. The “plan” was code word that Tommy Gonzalez was about to be fired and the city was covering its collective ass. The fact is that although the Fisher report found some items that were concerning in regards to Gonzalez, it only identified them as items that city council should follow up on. The Fisher report did not articulate that Tommy Gonzalez had done anything unethical. The performance plan, though, left the impression that Gonzalez was being punished.
What the Fisher report did articulate was that Joyce Wilson refused to reveal the names of the individuals that instructed her to delay the sale of the bonds. The delay resulted in millions of lost tax dollars. The fact that the bond sale was delayed clearly indicates that tax dollars were misspent unethically at best, and a crime was committed at worst. Contrast that with what the Fisher report exposed about Tommy Gonzalez and you can clearly see that the city should be focusing on Joyce Wilson rather than Gonzalez.
City council took the public position that it was putting Tommy Gonzalez on a performance plan. This, for all intents and purposes, signified that Gonzalez was about to be fired if he didn’t make any immediate changes. At the same time, the city council ordered the mayor to send a “pretty please” letter to Joyce Wilson asking her to reveal the names she is withholding. See the difference?
On one hand, an investigative report found no wrong doing with Tommy Gonzalez that resulted in the erroneous public perception that Tommy Gonzalez was about to be fired. Joyce Wilson, on the other hand, was sent a letter from the city asking her to cooperate. Never mind that the City has subpoena powers.
Now let me add another piece to this deception puzzle.
Last Tuesday, city council came out of a four-hour executive session and the mayor, along with Tommy Gonzalez, spoke about how everything was honky dory for now. Rather than a Performance Improvement Plan, the new scheme is an action list of things that city council wants Tommy Gonzalez to focus on.
The turnabout is important to notice. The “Statement of Goals and Expectations” is nothing more than an acknowledgement that city council found nothing wrong with the actions that Tommy Gonzalez has taken. The statement is a deception. City council needed something to say to justify the hours of meetings and recriminations but they knew they could not put Tommy Gonzalez on a punitive report because it would impede his future employment options. Gonzalez would sue if his future employment viability is impeded.
The performance improvement plan would have shielded the City from litigation by Gonzalez but only if, in fact, the City had legally articulated wrong doing by Gonzalez. Clearly it has not.
But the most important thing to notice about the latest deception is what it is covering up in addition to the City trying to scapegoat Gonzalez.
Joyce Wilson promised to issue a statement and she expected everyone “to move on.”
City council tasked the mayor with asking “pretty please” give us the names of those that ordered her to delay the bond sale.
As of yesterday, we do not have Joyce Wilson’s statement nor the list of names she was asked to produce. That is the real issue and it is the one everyone is trying to distract you from.
Bob Moore is running around frantic trying to portray the city’s actions as a violation of the open meetings laws. It may well be. But notice how not one mention is made by the newspaper that Wilson has yet to issue the promised statement or respond to the city’s request for the list of names?
That is where the deception lies.