Really, really special

December 22, 2014

Well they’re still at it.

The city council vote to not put restrooms in the eventually to be finished San Jacinto Plaza got me to thinking about how I could have missed notification of such an agenda item.  I went to the city’s web page and searched for the agenda item.  It was nowhere to be found.

I did find this document which is the report of the minutes of a special city council meeting that was held on Monday, December 15, 2014.

epcc12152014specialcouncilminutes

Huh?

They held a special city council meeting on Monday, December 15, 2014.  Where was the required public notification that the meeting was to be held?  Back at the city web site this is what showed up when a search for any special meeting in 2014 was entered:

epccspecialmeetingssearch12172014

State law requires council to post notification of any council meeting 72 hours before the meeting “in a place generally accessible to the general public” unless there is an emergency.

Our courts have ruled that posting notification on a bulletin board outside of city hall fulfills the requirement.

A reasonable citizen would probably conclude that the city posts it’s special council meeting notices on the city web site along with the regular meeting notices.  Why else would the drop down box have a provision for searching for special council meetings?

The trick here is that the city can comply with state law by posting an agenda on a bulletin board while tricking us to believe that they will post the notice on their web site.  No notification, no pesky public.

By the way, council had another special city council meeting on Tuesday, December 16, 2014.  The regular city council meeting was adjourned at 11:52 on that day and the special meeting was convened at 12:08 in a different room at city hall.  I guess they could move the entire council away from the public in only 16 minutes because they have restrooms at city hall and don’t have to go next door to use some business person’s facility.

Adding insult to injury, the special city council meetings are not video recorded and made available for the public to view after the fact.

This is disgraceful and mean spirited.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

 


City attorney job creep?

December 21, 2014

Our city attorney has been under fire lately from some members of city council.  It seems that the city attorney has been negotiating deals with some developers and has been seen as an impediment to progress.  I guess that this judgment is a matter of opinion depending on which side of the table you are sitting on.

Many organizations do not use their attorneys to negotiate deals.  Instead they ask the attorneys to see to it that the necessary documents reflect the specifics of the deal and that the deal is both binding and legal.

I happened upon some information on the city attorney’s web site.  It is a list of services that the department performs for the city.

Negotiating is not on the list.  Read their list below:

 

Advise City officials and departments on a wide range of legal issues 

Research and provide advice, opinions and recommendations on legal issues that come before the City. 

  • Draft municipal ordinances, resolutions, and agreements.
  • Provide advice to City boards, committees, commissions, and City Council Legislative Review Committees.
  • Advise Mayor, City Council, City Manager and other City officials of pending legislation and assist in drafting proposals for legislation in areas of concern to the City of El Paso.
  • Provide legal advice on state and federal grants.
  • Process claims on behalf of the City and against the City.

Functions of City Council:

  • Judicial hearings
    • Provide legal representation
  • Municipal Court
    • Represents the City in civil lawsuit
    • Prosecutes violations of City of El Paso ordinances and Class C misdemeanors
    • Handles property disposition hearings
  • Administrative hearings
    • Represents the City at Civil Service Commission disciplinary hearings and arbitrations
    • Assists City Departments with discipline issues
    • Responds to EEOC complaints
    • Receives and processes complaints filed under the City Ethics Ordinance
    • Represents the City at hearings before various state agencies

    Acts as a liaison with other 
    governmental entities.

Should the city manager and his departments be handling these negotiations?

We deserve better

Brutus


Searching for the truth

December 20, 2014

We try to be factually accurate here at elpasospeak.com.

While figuring out what to write about the problems at Ascarate lake I wanted to refer to an article the Times published months ago.  I went to their web site and entered “Ascarate pump” in the search box.  This is what I got:

ascarate1

I definitely remembered reading an article so I went ahead and clicked on “Search Our Archives”.  I entered “Ascarate pump” again and this is what was returned:

ascarate2

Not wanting to give up, I went to google and entered “Ascarate pump” with the following results:

ascarate3

The third item listed indicates that the Times did publish an article on June 3, 2014 about a defective pump at Ascarate.

I don’t know if the search capabilities at the Times site are misleading because they, like the city, want to hide past events or if this is just another example of incompetence.

We deserve better

Brutus


Oink, Oink

December 19, 2014

Our thanks to KVIA for this report and to Mr. Collins for pointing it out.

According to the report our hospital administrator will receive over $3 million in deferred compensation if he stays on thru 2016.  The report did not tell us whether that is fiscal year 2016, calendar year 2016, or light year 2016.

That will be in addition to his base pay and any bonuses that he might get.

The report tells us that he will also get a 56% increase to the deferred compensation to pay for his income taxes on the extra pay.  Incredible!

The highest tax rate is currently 39.6%.  He evidently does not believe that the concept of “fair share” applies to him.

With this much money at stake why has he been risking being terminated?

I’m surprised that his contract does not grant him the deferred compensation at the end of every year instead of requiring him to make it to 2016.

Now we have video of him asking to please be allowed to finish his job.  Baloney!  It looks like he  just wants to make it through 2016.

I am afraid that there is more to this story.

We deserve better

Brutus

 


General hospital right here in El Paso

December 18, 2014

The drama continues.

Our county hospital resembles the popular television soap opera.

The board of managers of our county hospital was said to be drafting a reprimand of our county hospital administrator.

We learned this after our county judge and at least one county commissioner asked for the resignation of some of the members of the board.

The board meeting that was held to consider the reprimand turned into a cheer leading event with the public comment portion of the meeting being dominated by speakers who told of us the wonderful job our hospital administrator has done.

It seems that the next move will have to come from our county judge and the commissioners.

Will they follow through or was all of their public posturing just for show?

We deserve better

Brutus


San Jacinto disaster

December 17, 2014

Our frequent commenter Reality Checker posted a comment yesterday about city council refusing to provide restrooms in the remodeled (for the umpteenth time) San Jacinto Plaza.

The plaza renovations are one of the 2012 quality of life bond projects.

The situation is really sad in my opinion.

I’m having difficulty expressing my thoughts here.  I’m gobsmacked and my thoughts are erupting faster than I can filter them and make them an appropriate part of the discussion.

How can we have reached this state of affairs?

Are our city officials incompetent?  Do they not care about our quality of life?  Is this some kind of sick joke?

The design work was supervised by city staff.  It is possible that the city council members at the time were not aware of the lack of facilities.

What cannot be denied however is that this city council is aware of the problem and all but one member voted to go ahead without the bathrooms.  Shame on them.

El Paso may be open for business but it evidently is not open to the public.

Restrooms will have to be provided.  I suppose that portable johns will be the first offering.

In the meantime I agree with mamboman3‘s suggestion yesterday.  Let’s close the restrooms in the city operated buildings so that our public servants can learn better how to serve the public.

Quality of life my foot.

We deserve better

Brutus


Ascarate follies

December 16, 2014

The issue of the water pumps at Ascarate lake tells us a lot about our county government.

The Times reported back in June that one of the pumps had “depleted” the lake.  Actually evaporation depleted the lake, a pump did not drain it.  The pump was not working at all.

County commissioners spent $20,000 dollars for a new pump.

Back in the news

Last week we heard about pumps again.  We learned:

We have a broken pump

It was installed in 2011 on land that the county does not own

The county has no right to enter the land or to pump water from it

They might have to follow state and local regulations in installing and operating the pump if they ever get permission to use the land and the water.  This evidently rankles our county officials–they are with the government after all.

The people responsible for this mess are no longer with the county

There’s the lie

Our county judge was with us in 2011.

We deserve better

Brutus


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