In the previous two episodes of Niemanwatch, we reported on Karla Nieman’s role in the Great Wolf Lodge rip-off and the water bill fiasco.

Today we will examine how she was hired in the first place.

You may recall that Sylvia Borunda Firth resigned in April 2018 and received a controversial $274,081 payout. Two months later Karla Nieman, who had worked for the City for 11 years, was appointed Interim City Attorney.

Nieman was one of five finalists to replace Firth and on October 23, 2018, under agenda item EX1, Reps. Morgan, Noe, Ordaz Perez and Lizarraga voted to hire her while Reps. Svarzbein, Annello, Hernandez and Rivera voted against. Mayor Dee Margo split the tie and Nieman was hired on a 5-4 vote.

Aaron Montes reported in the El Paso Inc that two City commissions, “one made up of residents and another composed of the city’s leadership, [had] made a push for Kimberly Mickelson,” a senior assistant attorney for the City of Houston who had “decades of experience working with cities as an attorney and once worked as an assistant city attorney for the city of El Paso in the 1990s.” Her Linkedin account indicates she graduated from UT-Austin law school in 1986, whereas according to the State Bar of Texas, Nieman earned her law degree at Indiana University in 2004. Rep. Annello commented, “To dismiss the concerns of the committees and Mickelson’s experience is wrong.”

Montes also revealed that Rep. Noe of District 5 did not participate in the interview process with the rest of City Council and then failed to recuse himself from casting a vote! This was according to Reps. Annello and Hernandez. In fact, Hernandez told the Inc: “I feel sad for the candidates because they’ll remember we did not provide a fair interview process.”

Yup, that is what I remember!

Why did Margo and four City reps reject the recommendations of the two City commissions?

Why did Rep. Noe fail to recuse himself?

Was Nieman the most qualified of the finalists or was she hired primarily to rubber-stamp the agenda of the Oligarchy Caucus?

Since she was hired, Nieman received a series of pay raises and now earns a base salary of approximately $286,000.

Photo credit: David Crowder, El Paso Inc, 1 Sep 2019.