City legalizing obscure agenda items

January 20, 2018

The mayor is asking city council to change the rules relating to how an item gets placed on a city council agenda.

Basically he wants any item that a city council member wants on the agenda to have the signature of at least two city council members.

This language would continue to be part of the ordinance:

Adequate Back-up For Agenda Items. All submissions from City Council Representatives
and the Mayor must be accompanied by adequate back-up to provide the council members, public
and City staff with sufficient information to ascertain the details of the topic and action that will
be requested. The City Clerk will not post an item on the agenda if the request for submission is
not accompanied by a fully completed “Agenda Summary” in the form provided by the City Clerk.
The Agenda Summary shall be the minimum amount of back-up acceptable.

The “Agenda Summary” is the mechanism they use to get around disclosing details if they don’t want to.

The ordinance says that the summary is the minimum amount of back-up acceptable.

The summary does not tell us much.  The very agenda item that contemplates the proposed changes has this agenda summary:

In other words they don’t really have to let us look at the legal and business documents relating to an agenda item.

They just need to file a form that says something like “We plan to take some action relating to doing something”.

We deserve better


Unfortunate article

January 20, 2018

Read this on the Sign of Zoro blog.

How can something like this happen?

If responsibility for fact checking is now being done out of town I can see how an out of town person might miss this.

The original picture and the caption had to come from a local person though, or am I wrong?

The Times did print a front page correction the next day:

A file photo on a story about Burnet Elementary School that ran on the front page of Thursday’s edition listed Dori Fenenbock as president of the El Paso Independent School District board of trustees.  Fenenbock resigned from the board in August.

Their correction explains that they used a file photo.  It does not explain how the caption came about, nor does it say “we regret the error”.

We deserve better



EPISD–purchasing failures

January 19, 2018

The EPISD mess over bond program contracts appears to be deeper than we have been led to think.

This slide is part of a presentation to the district’s internal audit committee:

The top item was an audit of a request for quotations process for bond program management advisory services.  Was the process conducted fairly?  Was it done according to the rules?

The internal auditors had estimated that it would take 590 hours to review the process and issue a report.  The slide shows that thus far the auditors have spent 1,771 hours.  The auditors issued their report back in November and are waiting for “administration” to approve their recommended corrective action plan according to this slide:

We do know that the district has cancelled the procurement.

The draft report will make for interesting reading.

Will people be held responsible for this?

We deserve better


SXSW–do we get anything by being there?

January 18, 2018

We learned the other day that county commissioners and city council have agreed to each spend $50,000 of our money to send a delegation to South by Southwest.

The wikipedia article about South by Southwest reads:

South by Southwest (abbreviated as SXSW and colloquially referred to as South By) is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year. In 2017, the conference lasted for 10 days with SXSW interactive lasting for five days, music for seven days and film running concurrently for nine days. Comedy and gaming components to the festival are particularly fast-growing.

The city and the county evidently feel that our attendance will be good for the community.  Maybe it will.

The city and county attended last year.


Did our community get any positive benefit from their attendance last year or is this really an opportunity for our employees to have a party?

We deserve better



January 17, 2018

One of the comments the other day made reference to the egg-beaters on I-10 out by the airport.

Aren’t they supposed to twirl?

There is a video of them spinning at the bottom of this web page.

Does anyone know the story here?

We deserve better


Children’s hospital fate being discussed

January 16, 2018

There has been considerable speculation about the financial fate of our children’s hospital lately.

At the November 14, 2017 meeting of the county hospital’s board of managers there was supposed to be a financial report from the new children’s hospital chief executive officer.

The presentation was postponed to the December board meeting in order to give the new chief executive officer time before having to make the report.

The video of the December 12, 2017 board meeting is not available on the county hospital’s web site.  The November and January videos are however.

Is this an oversight or are they trying to avoid making the children’s hospital financial situation known to the public?

Our former county judge is campaigning to become our local congressional representative.  She was one of the main champions of the bond issue that build the children’s hospital.  Is she being protected on this?

We deserve better


EPISD–something is in the air

January 15, 2018

Word on the street is that the Tuesday, January 16, 2018 EPISD board of trustees meeting (or special meeting–they will have both) will be heated.

Fireworks may be a better term.

We deserve better


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