Is there no limit?

March 31, 2015

A couple of our readers pointed this out already.  For those of you who missed their comments, this is hard to believe:


One of our city representatives wants to put our former city manager on the Ad Hoc Charter Advisory Committee.

Have they no shame?

Please don’t tell me that she is just like any other citizen.  We would object if anyone of similar  former rank with the city was put on the committee.

We deserve better


Sleight of hand?

March 30, 2015

Watching the city council discussion about the potential resolution limiting the placement of agenda items to those that have three city council sponsors, we saw some members of council saying that the resolution would make council meetings more efficient.  They pointed out that any council member could put an item on the agenda of what some used to call the “pre council” meeting but now call “legislative review”.

The argument is another effort that contradicts city goal number 5:  “Promote Transparent and Consistent Communication Amongst All Members of the Community”.


Quite simply the legislative review meetings do not have their agendas posted on the city web site, nor are videos of the meetings on the web site.

We don’t know what happens in these meetings unless we attend personally.

To us they are much like backroom meetings.

The city manager could resolve this by making the agendas and videos of the legislative review meetings available on the city web site.  Transparency is their goal after all.

We deserve better


Is the city serious about it’s stated goals?

March 29, 2015

One of our readers sent a link to this web page with two  good questions.  Following the link we got this display:


If you wish to speak at a council meeting, the city requires that you sign up in advance.  The questions asked were “Why is this online sign-up only available for limited hours prior to weekly council meetings?” and  “Another tactic to limit public comment?”

Many of us believe that the recent initiative to require three members of city council to sponsor an agenda item will limit public discussion too.

Is the city following their goal number 5:  “Promote Transparent and Consistent Communication Amongst All Members of the Community”?

We deserve better


A different way to handle the agenda item issue

March 28, 2015

Under the city manager form of government that we have here in El Paso elected district representatives are not allowed to tell city employees what to do or not to do.

That right has been given to the city manager.

One of the ways that district representatives can voice their concerns about activities in city departments is to create an agenda item that allows a discussion with the city manager in public view.

The council resolution being considered that would require that at least three representatives sponsor each agenda item could take that remedy away from our district representatives.

The resolution is a bad idea.  Some say that the real reason for it is to stop one or two of the existing representatives from ambushing the others with agenda items that are not clear.

Much of the problem could be avoided if there was complete backup material provided with each agenda item.  The rest of the problem could be handled by not engaging in the discussion and letting the item fail without comment.

We deserve better


Hoping for an explanation

March 27, 2015

We are being told that the number of students enrolled in the EPISD will drop by about 5,000 in the next few years.

The chart below is what the Texas Education Agency (TEA) shows about the matter:


Is the TEA wrong?  Where did they get their numbers?    I don’t know, but I would think that the numbers would of have to been reported by EPISD to the TEA.

Maybe one of our readers can help us to understand this.

We deserve better


Stacking the deck

March 26, 2015

Our city council has directed our city attorney to draft an ordinance that would require the concurrence of three city council members in order for one of them to place an item on the city council agenda.

Our employee (the city manager) would evidently be free to place as many items on the agenda as she/he wishes.

This is quite simply a naked power grab.

We don’t know whether this idea is being promoted by the moneyed people who influence council or if city staff wants to further subjugate their masters.

We do know that two of the candidates for the district one seat are outspoken and not bashful about speaking out strongly against things that they disagree with.  Is this proposed ordinance a way to limit the potential disruption that one of these candidates might bring to the plan that is directing the city?

One of the city council members pointed out that the proposed ordinance could cause violation of the Texas open meetings laws.  The law specifically prohibits serial meetings between council members  where city business is discussed.  Requiring three council members to place an item on the agenda will require at least three of them to have discussed an item out of public view.  If a council member wanted to put an item on an agenda she/he would have to reach out to other council members.  If one of those members said no then it would be reasonable to expect the council member to try someone else.  That could bring us to four members who had discussed the item, one shy of a law violating quorum.

The ordinance is a very bad idea.

We deserve better


Hard to explain

March 25, 2015

This document:


was part of the backup material for a city council agenda item the other day.  The purchasing department was ranking various vendors for the purpose of deciding who to buy from.

I found the awarding of zero points in the category of “Reputation and Quality of the Bidder’s Service” to one of our oldest dealerships interesting.  Further down the page they have the category of “Past Performance” where the city gave the dealership a rating of 5, the highest value that could be given.

The dealership has a good reputation for service.  Their quality has been fine in the past.  Given that no organization is perfect I can see that the city might not have given them the maximum of 20 points on this item.  However the city gave them a zero, meaning to me that the city considers the dealer’s reputation and service quality to be horrible, non-existent, not worth considering.

The dealer offered one of the two lowest prices.  It is interesting to note that the other dealer with one of the lowest prices was also given a zero in the same category.

Could it be that city staff found the bidders prices to be inconvenient?  Would staff have had to give the business to someone that they might not like just because of price?  Did they use low ratings in the reputation and quality category just to knock out the two low bidders?

Also interesting is the “Vehicle Fuel Economy” category.  The dealership that the city has chosen to give the business to received the maximum 5 points that could be given here.  All of the other dealerships were given a zero.

How can that be?  It would seem to me that we would see some other numbers here.  Or is the city saying that the losing dealerships were offering vehicles that used an infinite amount of fuel?

We deserve better



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