Ancient History — Mayor John Cook’s Interview with the El Paso Inc.

From 9 June 2013:

“Why are we making a significant investment in Downtown? The answer’s very simple. When I come to your house, you are going to clean your living room first. So when the mayor comes over and you invite him into your living room, that’s going to be the impression of your house that I get.”

The rest of the interview has some real nuggets:

One of the visionaries we looked to was Richard Florida, who said in today’s world, people want to pick a place to live and that’s where they want to work. They don’t want to pick a place to work and have to live there. So you have to have a real focus on quality of life. Fortunately for us, under the Ramirez administration, we had a big jumpstart on that, a $141-million quality of life bond election in 2000.

It made us really believe in quality of life, and that that was what was going to attract people. When you look at communities with great quality of life, they have great parks and open spaces, great downtowns, great transportation systems and great mass transit. That was all part of creating this community that people would say is very progressive and was a nice place to live and start bringing that economic power back to our residents.

Mr. Florida has since repudiated that opinion.

Q: Was city manager Joyce Wilson given authorization to conduct these kinds of talks and negotiations and then to present them fait accompli, virtually?

Were certain people given information and other people not? Joyce admitted that. It was part of her appraisal in December, part of her performance improvement plan that she would now communicate everything with all council members equally.

Q: That was the advice of Rick Horrow, PdNG’s consultant, that if you have opposition to a project like this, particularly a baseball stadium …

You keep them in the dark, right.

Q: She’s taken quite a beating over the ballpark, her dealings with PdNG and MountainStar Sports Group as revealed in her email, and for other email conversations she had. How much credit and blame does she deserve for the city’s progress and its mistakes?

You know, when you’re the engineer of the train, when you are the chief executive officer, you should have a sign that sits on your desk that says, “The buck stops here.” If we’re successful, she has all rights to claim our success as city manager and CEO. If we’re failures, she also has the right to claim the credit for our failures.

Q: Or to be blamed?

Or to be blamed, right. She’s in charge. But that’s not to say the City Council and even the mayor shouldn’t do a better job of paying attention. I probably should have said, “I wonder why they say it doesn’t matter. Is there a way that they could avoid having this go to a vote?”

Maybe I should have been smart enough to figure it out myself. She was smart enough to figure it out.

The city manager is no more powerful than the city council allows the city manager to be. So when people complain that the city manager’s too powerful, well, who gave her the power?

The whole interview is enlightening. Read it at El Paso Inc.

(You can get an online trial subscription, $1 for 3 months, here.)

One comment

  1. Wilson and the Shaplites did an end run around Mayor Cook on the stadium, presenting it as a fait accompli. They humiliated him. Why not? The charter amendment that established the CM role effectively turned the mayor’s office into the council emcee, not an executive role. That said, Mayor Cook was not really leading the city anywhere and the younger council members were frustrated about that, especially Suzy Byrd. So they opted to follow the lead of the PDNG and the rest is history. With Dee Margo’s election, the city leadership was, effectively, the PDNG and its agenda.

    Maybe things will change now, maybe not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *