Ordaz Dilemma – El Paso's Shallow and Narrow Talent Pool

bc-jlandr-22may16Editor’s note: The following is a guest editorial by Barbara Carrasco. Anyone interested in writing an editorial about topical topics that I cover on my blog is encouraged to submit them to me. I will contact you once I have made the decision on whether to publish your editorial. If you would rather self-publish, I encourage you to go to newsies.us and publish your own work. Guest editorials do not necessarily represent the views of Martin Paredes.

It is not news that I appeared before Council on April 21st to oppose the reappointment of Jose Landeros to the City Plan Commission. I expressed my concern regarding this individual’s integrity and provided council documentation to support my concerns. I also appeared before council in January to express outrage at Landeros and Claudia Ordaz’ conduct during a July 14th City Council meeting, and again I submitted documentation to support my stance.

I applaud Dr. Noe for removing Landeros’ reappointment from the consent agenda to the regular agenda for discussion. Council members’ questions and comments regarding conflict of interest were pertinent, valid and deserved answers from Ordaz. Ms. Ordaz’ responses, or lack thereof, in defense of Landeros did not sway Council to approve his reappointment.

Individuals who are nominated to commissions, committees or boards should not be automatically approved without discussion. Neither should prospective employees for elected officials be automatically employed by the city or county without Human Resources first having done their due diligence on these individuals.
In a May 12th El Paso Times’ article Ordaz expressed that it’s been a challenge to replace Landeros because of his level of expertise.

In a city with a population of 680,000 is it possible that the talent pool in El Paso is so shallow and narrow that finding a replacement for Landeros is making her job difficult?

Individuals nominated for appointments should be evaluated on qualifications and character.

An El Paso Times’ article on May 12th praised Landeros’ qualifications and education. His hard work should be recognized without a doubt. The article epitomized a great political-marketing strategy, elaborating on Landeros’ education and qualifications, yet neglecting to mention his character was questioned at a January City Council meeting and again on April 21th, and City Council believed there was a conflict of interest – character matters.

This article also focused on the embarrassing dismissal of Landeros’ from the City Plan Commission. An important fact given little consideration is that Landeros was not a bona fide member of the City Plan Commission. His term expired in January. Section 2.04.040 specifically states: “When the term of office of any member of any city board or commission expires, the member shall continue to serve until his successor is appointed and qualified, or until thirty days have passed following the expiration of the term, whichever event occurs first. Any holding over past the thirty-day period is prohibited, and after that time a vacancy in the board shall exist and the former member shall have no power to vote or participate in board proceedings.”

Whose responsibility was it to inform Landeros of the no-hold-over provision? Was it the responsibility of the City Attorney? Are council members required to read the City Ordinance and know the terms and provisions for appointees? Is it then council member’s responsibility to explain them to appointees? Did Landeros know he had thirty days on the City Plan Commission after his term expired but continued to thwart the law because he believed he was above the law? Many questions remain unanswered.

There appears to be failure of communication at the City which requires attention.

And then there’s the finger pointing. Accountability is not something we are accustomed to seeing at the City. Surely someone knew of the terms and provisions of appointees to the City Plan Commission!

Oops, Joyce Wilson did admit she unilaterally made the $20,000,000 decision that you and I are now going to pay, in addition to the other millions. Who gave her that authority? Oh, she didn’t need anyone’s permission. Now that’s accountability! But I digress.