Last night I got this email from Max Grossman:
The Financial Oversight and Audit Committee (FOAC) will be meeting tomorrow at 1:00pm and they just posted the backup to their agenda. There you will find the City Council & City Manager’s Commercial Fuel Card Review No. P2023-06.
We just learned that in 2022, City Rep. Cassandra Hernandez purchased 1,944 gallons of gas at taxpayer expense at a cost of $6,691, which is 35% of all gas purchased by the entire City Council and Mayor in that year!
What was she driving? A jet airplane?
In October 2022 she purchased gas 15 times!
We also see that Hernandez made multiple purchases of gas on consecutive days, and several times filled up her tank three days in a row!
Former City Rep. Claudia Lizette Rodriguez purchased 1,459 gallons in 2022.
The Mayor and other City Council reps did not spend anywhere near what Hernandez and Rodriguez spent.
This is a scandal of the highest order!
Under state law (Sex. 39.02), misuse of government property, services or any other thing of value belonging to the government in the amount of $2,500 or more is a “state jail felony.”
Seems like Representative Hernandez thinks unlimited free gasoline is a job perk.
CBS4Local.com picked up the story, and Rep. Hernandez responded:
As your elected representative, I am deeply concerned about recent actions taken by the Financial Oversight and Audit Committee. It has come to my attention that the committee is allegedly utilizing the internal auditor department to attack minority members of city council by cherry-picking gas card expenses. I strongly condemn these actions, which are not only woefully irresponsible but also cliquish and cornering. These are reasons why I am voting against Prop J.
. . .
I want to make it clear that the gas card expenses in question are observations, and the term “excessive” is an opinion relative to the work, or lack thereof, from other council offices. I have been present in my district, constantly communicating with constituents, neighborhood groups, business owners, and community leaders. In just four months this year, my office has hosted several district community meetings, given numerous presentations to neighborhood groups and at event presentations, gathered thousands of signatures to rename the police headquarters after the late Police Chief Allen, participated and hosted community cleanups, attended school celebrations and ribbon cuttings, was principal for the day, presented various proclamations and resolutions honoring the many efforts from our local organizations, held a discussion panel and online survey on the future of our city manager and police chief positions, organized and hosted a sensory-friendly Easter event for the all-ability community, and most recently launched an amazing city-wide tree planting initiative. I am prioritizing my district and urging the Mayor and Council to do the same.
“Minority members of council”? Seven of the nine members of City Council, including the Mayor, are Hispanic. Poor Rep. Hernandez thinks that they’re picking on her because she’s a Mexican?
Or because she’s working so hard? If I had the persecution complex that Rep. Hernandez claims, I sure wouldn’t be gassing up a lot of extra cars.
And Rep. Hernandez is voting against Proposition J. According to ElPasoMatters.com:
Voters on May 6 will decide whether to remove the city manager’s authority over the internal auditor – instead putting the City Council mostly in charge of the position that ensures taxpayer dollars and other funds are being used appropriately and processes are being followed.
The City Charter now stipulates a dual-reporting structure where the chief internal auditor may be appointed and removed by the city manager subject to the approval of the City Council. If approved in the charter election, Proposition J would limit the city manager’s role to implementing any internal audit recommendations requested by the council.
According to the City website, Rep. Hernandez is a member of the Financial Oversight and Audit Committee. Seems like a case of the fox watching over the hen house. But that information appears to not be current.
One thing seems clear: the taxpayers of El Paso need more accountability from City Government.
If you haven’t voted already, vote Yes on Prop J.
The Financial Oversight and Audit Committee meets today, May 4, at 1 pm, somewhere at City Hall. You can watch the meeting at http://www.elpasotexas.gov/videos, on teevee via City15, or on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/cityofelpasotx/videos.