Dear Friends and Media,
In the attached campaign mailer, mayoral candidate Oscar Leeser told El Pasoans he would “reevaluate the scope and responsibilities of the City Manager.” At the time, Leeser was highly critical of his management style and insisted that major changes were in order.
In a KVIA interview on October 19, 2020, he accused City Manager Tommy Gonzalez of creating a “kingdom” within our City government:
“In the 15 years since the City Manager position was created, City Council has continued to expand the power and scope of responsibilities of the position. The signatory authority of the City Manager has grown and grown and grown. The Police Chief reports to the City Manager. The Fire Chief reports to the City Manager. The City Manager can no longer be fired for lying to Council. It’s definitely time to review and realign City Manager responsibilities with the original intent … to provide continuity… not create a kingdom. Those changes will require conversations with Council and the community at large and, ultimately, a Charter election. I would support that. I think it’s imperative.”
And less then a year ago, on June 11, 2021, Elisa S. Perez of El Paso Matters reported:
“Mayor Oscar Leeser, who took office in January after a sweeping defeat of former Mayor Dee Margo, campaigned on reforming the duties of the city manager. Leeser said he supports the city manager form of government, but with additional checks and balances. He plans to work with the council and city attorney on determining what changes should be recommended. He said lawmakers have to study how the current form of government was intended nearly 20 years ago and determine if it can be made more efficient today.”
Yet the Mayor has taken no steps to reform the City Manager position. In fact, during the last year not only has the Mayor stopped criticizing the City Manager, he has repeatedly praised his performance, including today.
Speaking of today, the City Council again overrode the Mayor’s veto of the City Manager’s contract extension, with Rep. Claudia Lizette Rodriguez again casting the deciding vote by supporting the override.
According to Anthony Jackson of the El Paso Times, the Mayor gave three reasons for his veto, and I quote:
1. It being too early to consider renewing or extending Gonzalez’s contract;
2. Gonzalez’s contract is currently in play and does not require any new negotiations;
3. Overwhelming support from constituents.
I have underlined the third point for emphasis. Let us be clear. El Pasoans did not want the Mayor to veto the contract extension because it is too early to renew or extend the contract. They don’t care about that. They supported the Mayor’s veto because they do not like the City Manager’s performance. Hello?! Anyone listening??
MAYOR LEESER’S FREUDIAN SLIP
Btw, today the Mayor made the mother of all Freudian slips at the 1:12:09 mark during today’s Special City Council Meeting:
“We have a contract that will continue to have Mr. Gonzalez continue to lead the City Council… I mean the City and its 6,000 employees.”
That’s right, Mr. Mayor! Tommy Gonzalez has been leading City Council rather than City Council leading the City Manager.
Given the first point on your campaign mailer, when are you going to do something about that?
With all due respect,