Brain drain

This came in from Helen Marshall:

The Times Friday published a laudatory editorial about Michael Tomor, the Museum of Art director who is departing for Tampa to run the Museum of Art there, a private institution.

The editorial notes that arts leaders in El Paso “point to the difficulties sometimes encountered when creative people have to work within a municipal bureaucracy.”  Adair Margo says “I am very, very sad our city structure discourages rather than encourages great leaders like him.”

Tomor is leaving despite being a hometown boy, and about 18 months short of the ten years for a pension.  What about the city bureaucracy drove him to seek another position (assuming it’s not just about being closer to water).  Joyce Wilson was in charge of that bureaucracy for nearly the entire time that Tomor worked here.  Could it possibly be that the “El Pasoan of the Year” and her acolytes ran a dysfunctional bureaucracy?  Nah, couldn’t be; why, everyone – except the Crazies – knows how wonderful she and her co-conspirators were.  

(Curious – there are three city museums, but only two directors.  Ms. Wilson tried to close the Museum of Archaeology in 2008 but was stopped by Council.  When the museum’s director retired shortly thereafter, she took her revenge by making the Museum of History director serve as director for the Museum of Archaeology as well.  The two institutions are more than ten miles apart and have very different collections and programs.  And of course the Museum of Archaeology is out there near Cohen Stadium, lightyears away from D*wnt*n; who cares about it?  Her keen interest in museum affairs might also be deduced from the demolition of the only children’s/science museum in town in order to build the Stadium.)  

7 Responses to Brain drain

  1. balmorhea says:

    I do not have any inside information on Michael Tomor’s departure, but know that what Adair Margo says is right on. Becky Duval Reese and Michael Tomor did exemplary jobs despite the city bureaucracy. Considering the obstacles, all the museums in El Paso have done well except the railroad museum, which may reflect the real history of El Paso as much as the archaeology museum. Who can blame Dr. Tomor for going to Tampa and a privately funded museum. In that situation, you answer to a board but that is often a breeze compared to the city bureaucracy.


  2. Anonymous says:

    For me the El Paso Museum of Archaeology represents a celebration of the first people to live and thrive in this region. Those ancient people lived here continuously from as least as long ago as 14,000 years and some of their descendants still live among us today. Times changed, climate changed, but the ancient people stayed, learned how to adapt to the Chihuahuan Desert environment, to cultivate corn, beans, squash and other native plants, became farmers, built pueblos, created a symbolic communication system we call “rock art” today, coped with drought, and traded with people from the Pacific Coast, the Gulf Coast, the Great Plains, Mesoamerica, in fact communicated with people living in all directions around them. These were people like us in intelligence and creativity. Let’s recognize them, let’s celebrate and honor them, let’s learn from them. How can we do this? By fulfilling the potential of El Paso Museum of Archaeology in several ways. The building is 38 years old. It needs probably a million dollars worth of upgrades. The grounds need to be cared for by trained staff who know how to care for and properly maintain Chihuahuan Desert Plants (Please Mr. Parks Director, train your staff!). The Poppies Fest is coming up on April 4 and poppies are already appearing in their native habitat, Northeast El Paso, but city grounds crews do not know what a Mexican Gold Poppy looks like. Most of all, the museum needs adequate staff and a director who is able to devote full time (not time split with another museum) to one of the most important tasks of a museum director, fund raising. The Archaeology Museum budget provided by the City Council has been cut every year since at least 2007. It would be easy to say why doesn’t the staff raise more money? Funders assess the capacity of an organization to accomplish their proposals is by assessing the organization’s governance and their financial record. The Museum of Archaeology was founded by the El Paso City Council. Only the City Council can provide the baseline resources that the Museum of Archaeology needs to be successful. Only the citizens of El Paso can make their voice heard to influence their City Council. We have built today on an ancient past we hardly know, but it has made today possible. The bottom line for me is – are we proud of our ancient heritage, are we proud of who we are today? I’m waiting to hear the response.


  3. Haiduc says:

    I do not think there is a “Brain drain” but more
    a “Brain full of Public education”


  4. Chas Thomas says:

    Frankly, our local government just leaves me scratching my head and wondering, “what just happened?” Come to think about it, so do our State and Federal Governments. It’s not about “We the People” anymore and hasn’t been for a long time now. It’s about the elected (or appointed) official’s wallets or selfish desires.


  5. Jerry K says:

    Dr. Tomor is a great asset to the city and will be missed.


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