The editorial in the El Paso Times July 10, 2015 issue deserves attention. They wrote:
Editorial: El Paso city government owes full explanation on botched transportation funding
Revelations that errors cause El Paso to miss out on more than $20 million in federal transportation funding raise further questions about competence at City Hall. Mayor Oscar Leeser, City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and other officials owe a much better explanation than offered so far.
The problem was first brought to light by political blogger Jaime Abeytia, then became a subject at city budget hearings on Wednesday, City Rep. Claudia Ordaz plans to place an item on Tuesday’s City Council agenda to further discuss the matter.
“We didn’t do it right. We missed the boat. We did the process wrong,” Leeser said at the budget hearing.
That’s not an acceptable explanation. Leeser sits on the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization, which reviews funding requests.
It appears that inexcusable sloppiness is the root cause of the problem.
“Overall, it is the EPMPO’s observation that many applications contain errors, ineligible funding sources, missing CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality Improvement Program) analysis, late submissions, and other obligation discrepancies,” Michael Medina, the El Paso MPO’s executive director, said in a June 25 document.
These kind of errors should not be occurring on funding applications from the nation’s 19th largest city.
Responsibility for properly filling out funding requests begins with city employees. City management, up to City Manager Tommy Gonzalez, are responsible for ensuring the staff has the necessary training and are following proper procedure.
The mayor and council are responsible for ensuring the city manager is doing his job in overseeing the city bureaucracy.
If Medina’s critique is correct — and no one seems to be suggesting otherwise — it suggests a catastrophic failure of leadership throughout city government.
City Engineer Irene Ramirez, who was promoted to that position earlier this year, announced her retirement this week. The timing is almost certainly not a coincidence. Ramirez’s department also is a major player in the long-delayed reconstruction of San Jacinto Plaza.
But one sudden retirement cannot be the only answer to this large problem.
The city owes its citizenry a detailed explanation of what went wrong, who was responsible and what is being done to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That needs to begin at Tuesday’s council meeting.
El Pasoans deserve much better than what they’ve been receiving from their city government.
I think the readers will agree with the Times.
Their editorial does raise a question however. Should I close with “We deserve much better” from now on?