Something really good happened at city council at their Tuesday, October 6, 2015 meeting.
The district 8 city representative expressed her displeasure with the city manager and his staff. She did not back down and ultimately council backed her.
Evidently the day before in council’s meeting with staff she had asked that staff present potential names for the cafe/grill that will be located in San Jacinto Plaza if that project is ever finished. She wanted names that were creative and historically relevant to El Paso.
When the issue came before council the next day, staff ignored her request.
She then explicitly directed her comments to the city manager. She indicated that council was doing everything that it could do to have the plaza project completed as planned and that she did not want to leave details undefined thus causing delays (council cannot be as powerless as she claimed, the project is a disaster and she certainly has responsibility).
The city manager ultimately responded that they had a list of potential names.
Our city representative decided to ask that the item be postponed for a week and that she was tired of staff coming to council without details being codified and that she did not want to”leave certain details up to somebody’s discretion”.
The city manager and his staff wanted the lease to be approved right then and there.
The city clerk stepped in and told council that there was a motion and a second of the motion to postpone the item for one week and that further discussion before taking the vote was inappropriate. They mayor agreed.
Then the city manager interrupted the vote and made his pitch to have the lease approved immediately. He must feel that he has rights in the process that mere elected city representative do not have.
Our city representative then said “Mr. Gonzalez, with all due respect, this is a policy decision …” thus telling him to but out.
The beginning of the end
The city manager probably meant well here in that he wanted to avoid any kind of additional delay. He should however have let council have control. His ego needed to be put away.
The city representatives will now be more sensitized to the fact that they are having a power struggle with the city manager and city staff. That struggle is one that he will lose.
Unfortunately our relatively new city manager form of government has resulted in a situation where city staff gets to exercise more control over issues than our elected officials do.
We saw council exerting it’s control in this case.
Thankfully I don’t need to close with my normal statement.