Tommy and Nancy – What a Pear

This from Helen Marshall:

The El Paso Times tells us ( that the City of El Paso now has a new authority, the Chief Performance Officer, created by City Manager Tommy Gonzalez last November.  The position was filled by Nancy Bartlett, who worked for Gonzalez in Irving (and who will be reimbursed for trips back to North Texas in her initial six months, as her husband and mother are not moving to El Paso).  Bartlett’s base salary and benefits such as full-time use of a city vehicle top $200,000.  The job was not advertised as Gonzalez considers it to be an administrative decision that is within his authority, not that of council.  Bartlett’s total reimbursement will be higher than that of Deputy City Manager David Almonte, who has, possibly coincidentally, submitted his resignation.

Bartlett and Gonzalez are fans of a management setup called Sigma Six, which they tout as the key to making public administration more efficient.  “In the months to come, Gonzalez said, El Paso will begin to see changes that will improve the delivery of city services to the public and get the city staff excited about their jobs.”  If you suffer from insomnia, try reading this Wikipedia article about Sigma Six…and try to imagine life in Sigma Six El Paso.   The Strategic Plan, with its babble of Goals and sub-goals, is just the beginning of the excitement!

Bartlett’s expression in the photo accompanying the Times article leaves no doubt that she will be a match for Saint Joyce.

22 Responses to Tommy and Nancy – What a Pear

  1. U says:

    If you are a company producing a product then 6 sigma can be a useful tool. In a local government its a waste of time. Government is not a business and while some business principals can easily be adopted which the city has done that is the most it can do.


  2. Wort says:

    Heck, anyone can get Six Sigma training at a discounted price on Groupon, no kidding!


  3. All I know is that we are apparently stuck with this situation because a previous mayor sold somebody on the entire idea of having a City Manager. So what if we no longer have a City Hall? So what if Cohen Stadium, a good, and good-sized baseball park sits unused? So what if our streets are in a sad state of repair, with no sign of any repaving? So what if we voted for millions and millions of dollars for quality of life issues and are seeing no results, or use of all that money?


    • Santa Claus says:

      The quality of life goodies were partly used to deflect attention away from the ballpark giveaway and make taxpayers think there were also presents under the tree for you.


  4. elrichiboy says:

    6 Sigma is a legitimate management framework championed by, among others, Toyota. I believe it’s premise is to constantly improve every process incrementally. This results in “lean” project delivery by eliminating waste.

    I am not, by any means, a fan or apologist for the City. But, from what I’ve seen, a consistent analytic framework is better than the willy-nilly whims that we’re used to. Do you think there’s waste in city government? Are we willing to try a process that might reduce it? Do you think there should be a consistent standard by which city employees’ performance can objectively be judged?

    If Ms. Bartlett and Mr. Gonzalez work well together, and hiring her reduces time spent training someone else, than $200k a year is probably a bargain.


    • Jerry K says:

      There is no business process management in city hall and it is disparately needed. I can give you just one example and that is in HR new employee on-boarding. You fill out about a dozen forms with the same personal data on them that are processed by clerks who lose your information (happened to me in 2011).

      When I was a banker, we got hit with Reg Z (truth in lending) that required multiple different forms with the same personal data to open a loan. We entered the personal data once and it printed out on all the different forms. This was called Platform Automation. This was in 1984 but the word never got to HR because there are zero incentives in city hall to be efficient. In fact, there is a disincentive because, if you figure out how to do a job with fewer employees, you could lose you headcount, a BIG no no.

      Then there is the issue of getting it right, i.e., quality control.

      Six Sigma will probably fail unless Gonzalez can create department incentives for efficiency, like you lose your job if it doesn’t measurably improve 10% a year.


  5. Jerry K says:

    6 Sigma, TQM, SOL….anything that will get Country Club Road finished is worth the price.


  6. epkamikazi says:

    Just one correction… the process is Six Sigma not the other way around. And it is so good that it is an accepted, no REQUIRED Army management practice so what could be wrong with that?


    • tBusch says:

      Army management. Of course. What could be wrong with that?


      • mamboman3 says:

        Army management….an oxymoron?


      • Reality Checker says:

        Gonzalez must still believe in the old Army motto “We take care of our own.” Bartlett is one of his. He is taking care of her. She

        We now have ourselves some more folks at city hall who don’t understand the importance of public perception.

        In addition to Bartlett’s big salary and perks, including lots of travel expenses back to the Dallas area, she gets to continue to operate her consulting firm. We’re supposed to believe that her sideline business will in no way dilute her focus on city business.

        Bartlett the consultant is shown on Avanoo’s website as a program provider for Avanoo, an online training and development company. Her photo and bio on Avanoo promotes her consulting firm and speaking engagements.

        The City of El Paso is now using Avanoo. Avanoo is using our city seal as an implied endorsement. Who approved that? The city’s purchase of training services like Avanoo is one of Bartlett’s area of responsibility.

        So, it looks like we’re paying for services from Avanoo and in return Aavanoo promotes her personal consulting services, which benefits her and only her.

        The terms of Gonzalez’s contract with the city also conveniently permits him to do consulting and speaking engagements. Maybe his new chief performance officer can help arrange some of those opportunities for him.

        This is beginning to look a little like Bartlett might have a tiny conflict of interest. It smells a little like EPISD.

        Gonzalez creates a new position and hires a high-salaried person from outside of El Paso without even allowing people already here the opportunity to apply. So much for the talk about job creation and creating opportunities for El Pasoans.

        Since Tommy likes to talk about his Army connections and the Army way, he can also hire the former Ft. Bliss garrison commander, who was terminated. He is available and would fit right in.


    • Helen Marshall says:

      Oops, you are right, 6 Sigma, not the other way around. What this title actually MEANS is opaque at best to the 99% of us who are just trying to get on with our lives…


    • Reality Checker says:

      Six Sigma is also used by a lot of large manufacturing companies in the El Paso area, but Gonzalez chose not to recruit locally. He could have hired locally, saved money, and proved that the city is committed to creating good jobs for El Pasoans, not for people in other cities. Any number of local people would have also had more actual business experience in large organizations than the professional speaker he chose.


  7. balmorhea says:

    Ms. Bartlett is also allowed to continue her own 6 Sigma consulting business if “it doesn’t interfere with city business.”

    6 Sigma is a descendant of the many “quality” programs such as Total Quality Management that became popular in the US about 30 years ago and were based on the work done in post-WWII Japan by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Because Deming’s program worked so well in Japan the concepts were brought to the US. I have not seen any data showing that these programs have resulted in significant, lasting improvements at businesses or government entities in the US.

    Even if 6 Sigma has a good record, as Mr. Gonzalez asserts, did City Council know that Mr. Gonzalez was going to bring 6 Sigma to the city when he was hired? Did City Council know of the financial commitment required for the program (i.e. the head consultant, training for other leaders, time requirements from rank & file, etc)?

    My concern is that this Council is going the way of the previous one in its reliance on the City Manager and outside consultants. The previous Council spent many taxpayer dollars on Richard Florida and detailed studies for the downtown plan by a company that knew nothing about El Paso. And how is that working out for us now?


    • mamboman3 says:

      Multiple income streams for her….we wouldn’t want to interfere with that….she sure got a hefty stream from us thanks to her compadre.


  8. mamboman3 says:

    I heard that supposedly the CM has saved the city a bundle already by eliminating a bunch of positions; yet, a disgruntled member of council “leaked” this story to the Times in an effort to embarrass him. I wonder why this was not fully disclosed back in November, 5 months ago, by our new CM. My gut tells me he is perfectly capable of keeping secrets from the public just as his predecessor. So much for transparency….and transparency 5 months later when somebody “leaks” it is not transparency. So even tho the Mayor promised we’d have a vote on keeping the CM system, we now have a wily one without voter approval and we get the comadre shoved down our throats as well. Fasten your seat belts folks, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!


    • Reality Checker says:

      When Gonzalez was first interviewed, I posted links to the Dallas media stories about his questionnable practices and ethics issues in Irvine. Those problems were also reported by the Times before he was hired. City council members totally dismissed those issues and hired Gonzalez anyway. They acted as though the ethics issues in Irvine were not worthy of public discussion or comment. They knew exactly what they were doing. They got what they wanted. Now, we get to pay.


    • balmorhea says:

      6 Sigma is not a secret. Mr. Gonzalez has been above board about initiated 6 Sigma. He spoke about it at the meetings all the representatives held to introduce him to their districts. Several months ago he asked Council for funds to send several employees to 6 Sigma training. All the reps voted for that. Of course Council didn’t vote on hiring Ms. Bartlett or on her benefits because Mr. Gonzalez can hire in his office without Council approval.

      My complaint is still with Council and how easily they are following Mr. Gonzalez without question. That is dangerous.


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