I am pleased to see that the El Paso Times, El Paso Matters, KVIA ABC-7 and CBS 4 have been publishing more investigative reports on the financial practices of the City and County. Yes, there is a real difference between investigative journalism, which requires filing open records requests and spending days interviewing sources and conducting research, and uncritically parroting government news releases or questioning public officials without airing opposing viewpoints or providing context.
Kudos to Anthony Jackson of the El Paso Times, who published a report yesterday revealing that under his newly extended contract, Tommy Gonzalez could be earning as much as $597,449 by the time it expires in 2029.
Jackson explains: “Despite El Paso’s sluggish population growth, skyrocketing cost of living, increased property values and its median per capita income of $23,450, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, Gonzalez’s salary is among some of the highest for city managers in Texas.”
He also raises questions about Gonzalez’s withdrawal of his candidacy for the City Manager position in Frisco, Texas during his contract negotiations in El Paso. We learn that on May 23 the winning candidate in Frisco was offered a salary of $285,000 (compared to Gonzalez’s current $404,377), but on that same day the “El Paso City Council continued to sweeten the pot for Gonzalez by passing amendments for a contract extension and legal reimbursement.”
Meanwhile, Gonzalez earns only $2,473 per year less than the City Manager of Dallas, which has more than double the number of city employees and quadruple the budget; and he earns $92,377 more per year than the City Manager of San Antonio, which has double the number of employees and three times the budget.
This fiasco is one of the many botched contractual agreements approved by our City Council since the “strong mayor” form of government was abolished in 2005. One thinks immediately of the Ballpark, the Great Wolf Lodge, TIRZ 13, and the many 380 agreements signed with investors and developers that went south.
But there is a ray of light. In November voters will have the opportunity to elect candidates who can shift the balance of power away from the Oligarchy with its nefarious private agenda and back to the working taxpayers of El Paso.
Enjoy your weekend.