“Good Cause”

On December 5, I requested the employment contracts for City Manager Tommy Gonzalez from the City of El Paso via the Texas Public Information Act.

I read them to my kids at bedtime. It works.

Mr. Gonzalez was originally employed in 2014, and his initial employment agreement was dated May 20, 2014, and his contract renewal was dated December 11, 2018.

There are some interesting differences between the two agreements. Some of the more interesting are defined in Section VI. Termination & Compensation Upon Termination.

6.1.c.(2) defines the criteria for which the City Manager may be terminated for Good Cause.

The 2014 Employment Agreement lists fourteen reasons that the City Manager may be terminated. The 2018 Agreement lists only seven.

Imagine that. Half the criteria which constituted good cause for dismissal disappeared!

Like what?

Insubordination or failure to comply with any lawful written Council directive;

What? Insubordination, or not doing what the City Council tells him to, is not grounds for dismissal? Have you ever had a job like that?

Drunkeness or excessive use of alcoholic beverages or other intoxicating substances, including misuse of prescription medications;

Well, that one is a little broad. I assume that Mr. G must tie one on in the privacy of his own home, probably falling into a bottle of Scotch with regular frequency. Doesn’t Tommy look like a Scotch drinker to you?

Immorality, which is conduct that is not in conformity of the accepted moral standards of the community encompassed by the City. Immorality is not confined to sexual matters, but includes conduct inconsistent with rectitude or indicative of corruption, indecency, or depravity;

Imagine that! Conduct indicative of corruption, indecency, or depravity is no longer good cause for dismissal of the City Manager!

Assault on an employee or citizen of the City;

Ha!

And then there’s this one:

Conscious misrepresentation of material facts to the Council or other City Officials in the conduct of the City’s business;

This clause is especially significant, given that City Council depends on the City Manager for the information on which they base their decisions. If he can lie to Council with impunity, he can lead them anywhere he wants them to go.

Imagine City Council approving those changes to the City Manager’s Employment Agreement. What were they thinking? Let’s hold the City Manager to a lower standard? Let’s cut the leash? Let’s abdicate our responsibility to hold the City Manager accountable?

Theoretically, City Council is supposed to direct the City Manager. Like the Board of Directors directs the Chief Executive Officer of a corporation, City Council is supposed to direct the City Manager. Somehow that relationship got flipped.

13 comments

  1. The Executive Director of the El Paso Housing Authority has a similar contract. Apparently we need then so bad that we are willing to hire them at any cost.

  2. I have opposed the very idea of a City Manager since I first heard of it. At the time, I was not living here, however, so I guess I didn’t pay too much attention to the idiocy that was put forth by that guitar strumming NE do-nothing. I still believe that this city needs a strong Mayor, with a strong, informed City Council behind that position. In many ways we remain a big city with many small town characteristics, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. We could make good use of that if we just tried. Keep more hiring local. Keep more contracts for City services local. Stop gouging the tax payers by forcing franchise fees on City-owned utilities! Dump this form of government in favor of one that is more El Paso friendly.

  3. Does this agreement have more weight than the city charter? In the charter it is started that the city manager can be terminated for no reason at all. It just takes the mayor and city council to vote on it.

    1. City Council can fire Tommy Gonzalez, but, according to his contract, they have to pay him a year’s salary if they do.

  4. Let’s brainstorm, if we wanted a strong mayor instead of a city manager, what qualifications would we want in a strong mayor? Qualifications, not slogans, not a history of holding political offices, not vague statements. Qualifications. Once we know what we want in qualifications maybe we can find someone who meets them.

  5. Do we know which dumb ass council was in place when they took that vote? Like whyyyyy? Smh

    1. This was the City Council that immediately preceded the City Council we have now. The contract was approved last December, just over a year ago.

  6. Also, how can we suggest a story? Are you aware of what’s going on with the sale of El Paso electric to JP Morgan, the activists that tried to stop it, and the dumb half of city council that voted for it?

  7. I’m not convinced that the city manager system should change. The problem is that the 2 managers we’ve had so far have acted as mayor/council/manager. A group of oligarchs are involved in directing the manager to run the city.

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