One of the theories about the payout to our former city attorney is that they city is paying her hush money to keep her from talking about various things that may have happened during her watch.
I don’t know anyone who believes that she deserves the payout as part of a retirement deal.
If the hush money theory is true what does this say about our former city attorney?
As citizens we have the right to expect our city attorney to see to it that all laws are obeyed. Yes, she was supposed to represent the council members and the mayor but she should not have allowed them to violate a law.
Are we to believe that she saw things that she was willing to remain silent on as long as she had a job and only brought them up in order to blackmail them into a settlement?
We deserve better
In all levels and forms of government, the consigliere, or legal rep, provides the body with legal advice. It would be the height of naivete to believe the City Council, County Commissioners, school board or whomever merely used the attorney to keep them from violating the law. Their role is more along the lines of “how do we sneak around the law or sidestep it so we can get what we want”. Nothing said Garcia had to encourage low performing or problem students to continue their schooling. Nor was there any edict which forbade discouraging the student miscreants from attending schools. They all left, scores soared. Garcia’s prosecution was over misuse of funds in awarding to his mistress. Doubtlessly the same applies to City Council. “We need to obligate funds and build a soccer stadium. How do we keep the public in the dark?”
I suspect the real reason is they decided they needed a better attorney and instead of having the forethought to time the change prior to her contract renewal they opted to fire her midway through the year and eliminate the risk of age discrimination suit by giving her a severance package. Truly incompetent management. The real question is which local insider will get her job?
The agreement gives her six months of severance pay, or $124,340, $103 for her vacation balance, $127,116 for sick leave and an additional $22,484 in “vacation runout,” according to documents obtained by the El Paso Times through the Texas Public Information Act.
The severance pay is the sticking point. Severance is issued if you’re kicked out, not if you retire or resign. As for that sick leave and ‘vacation runout’, that part of the city policy needs to be examined closely. IF she gets paid for sick leave at the usual rate (60 days max on contract), this averages out to about 2100 dollars a day. Her normal pay is around 700 dollars a day. This means she’s paid 3 times her normal pay when she’s sick.
I agree with ripper1951…Firth was tasked with giving city leaders advice as to the art “not getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar”. They’ve been busted several times with civil rights violations, a potential elder abuse case, and now THIS PARTICULAR ILLEGAL SEVERANCE PAYOUT / PAYOFF. what a twist of irony that she go out it such a haze of a legal mess. Good riddance. Watch my latest Youtube video regarding this city SNAFU >>>
To Jud Burgess: must admit that I enjoy your interesting video offerings on Brutus’ blog.
thanks…we are all fighting the same enemy.
This woman structured wording to create workarounds to circumvent every technicality and spirit of the law as to the way it was intended. Take for instance the wording on the 2012 quality of life bond issues.
There were numerous projects bundled in a specific fashion into three propositions totaling about $428,000. Each proposition had a subtotal assigned to it, yet none of the items in the groupings had specific figures assigned to them. Why wasn’t each project listed separately with a proposed cost?
The reason was obvious in retrospect. Each grouping had a particular project that was popular and several others that may or may not have flown on their own. This was all nothing but a baiting job strategized by the city manager, the mayor, the city attorney, and city council with the outside consultations from several questionable sources as it turns out.
Why do we have this overpriced form of government that no longer has direct responsibility to we, the taxpayers? The reason is quite apparent now. It is to have more cards in the deck to shuffle.
I propose thge at we return to our previous form of a strong mayor form of city government so that we, the citizens and taxpayers have a direct control at the ballot box over our leadership and management.
Then you would have Dee calling all the shots. Though he is certainly an astute businessman, he is also very much in the Hunt-Foster Axis of Taxes column. It would be stadium style trickle-up economics all over again.
The decision to group the projects was the City Manager’s. A survey of voters showed that certain projects had a lot of support while others not so much. Because the ex-CM thought it would look good on her resume, she grouped the not-so-good projects with the popular ones. We’re now stuck with a bunch of projects that are over budget and that we really didn’t want. Thanks, Joyce.
Whose side was she on? She was on the money side.
The disgusting part is that her severance of $125,000 is nearly three times El Paso’s median household income of $42,000.
Every time you see a big pot of money being wasted or a multimillion dollar tax break being given to a developer, divide it by $42,000.
That figure is for 2 wage earners…the average El Pasoan makes just over $20,000 which is 50% less than the average Texan at around $30,000 per year.
Geez, Jud!! That’s the reason I specified that it was household income as opposed to individual or per capita.
The word at City Hall was that Leesor was totally dependent on Firth. He was over his head from day one and Firth engraciated herself with him. City Council knew she was devious and incompetent but their hands were tied as the city charter left the hiring and firing of the city attorney soley in the hands of the mayor. I’m not sure if the charter has been changed to give council a say but if it wasn’t changed, it should be. Getting rid of Firth has to be one of Margo’s goals when he took office. But he had that previously signed contract to deal with……..
Relevant excerpts from Rex Tillerson’s commencement speech at Virginia Military Institute:
“As I reflect upon the state of American democracy, I observe a growing crisis of ethics and integrity.”
“When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America. If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society, and among our leaders in both the public and private sector, and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector, then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”
“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”
“This is the life of nondemocratic societies, comprised of people who are not free to seek the truth. … A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what the truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not, and begin by holding ourselves accountable to truthfulness, and demand our pursuit of America’s future be fact-based, not based on wishful thinking; not hopeful outcomes made in shallow promises; but with a clear-eyed view of the facts as they are and guided by the truth that will set us free to seek solutions to our most daunting challenges.”
He quoted John 8:32 twice: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”