The Conspiracy

Did y’all read that letter from former District 2 Representative Jim Tolbert?

Of course you did. It’s been on a couple of blogs, and then there it was in the El Paso Times. Here’s a juicy part:

I began my term on City Council as the one who had filed ethics complaints against Mr. Larry Romero and our City Manager, Mr. Tommy Gonzalez. Although I did not write those complaints (Susie Byrd did), I take responsibility for them because my name is on the complaints.

. . .

The reasons for filing the complaint against Gonzalez were not valid. The complaint involved the pavement of an alleyway and the addition of speed humps on Stanton Street – two items that Gonzalez was authorized by the budget resolution to approve.

. . .

There were consequences to the Susie Byrd-Veronica Escobar cabal in which I took part. Mr. Romero had a stroke and Mr. Gonzalez was prevented from returning home to a sick and dying father. I am deeply sorry for the pain and agony my filing may have caused Mr. Gonzalez, his family and Mr. Romero.

I’m pretty sure those behind-the-scenes dealings make it a conspiracy, n’cest pas?

But towards what ends?

Here’s some idle speculation that was proffered at the time, by your favorite website, in an article titled Idle Speculation.

Do you suppose the local heavyweights turned sour on City Manager Tommy Gonzalez when they discovered that he would award city contracts to his friends instead of the friends of our elected officials?

The Engineering Department was widely perceived to have its thumb on the scale in the old evaluation process. Now they’re gone, replaced by some out of town firms who had worked with Mr. Gonzalez before.

I’m not buying into the shock and horror on display in City Hall. Our elected officials wear their virtue uncomfortably, like it doesn’t quite fit.

What are we really talking about? Paving streets and speed bumps? Almost (but not quite) firing our bond counsel? The outrage is disproportionate to the offense.

It’s too bad we can’t just accept the statements emanating from the City at face value. That train left the station a long time ago.

That out-of-town firm was Freese and Nichols, who had worked with Mr. Gonzalez when he was the City Manager in Irving. Here’s the El Paso Times shaking the tree:

Top city administrators canceled a bid for services that would have aided the struggling engineering department in January 2015, an El Paso Times investigation revealed.

Shortly after taking over as El Paso’s city manager in June 2014, Tommy Gonzalez met with Chief Financial Officer Mark Sutter and high-ranking executives from the Freese and Nichols firm in October 2014 to discuss “staff augmentation and program management,” records show. The city then began a request for qualifications process that was ended after Freese and Nichols was not the winning bidder, according to records obtained by the El Paso Times.

See, the way my sceptical mind sees it, that brouhaha over the speed bumps and alley paving were intended to show Mr. Gonzalez that he could get got, so he better mind his beeswax, and not rock the boat. Mr. Romero was just collateral damage.

Someone posting as Mr. Tolbert in the comments of his letter to ElPasoSpeak had this to say:

The fact that I did not get Susie or Veronica’s support happened because we had already had a break on the issues. After being elected, I began to see things with a different perspective. I think independently and could not carry out their agenda. Some examples: I came to support the City Manager and, in spite of their intimations of wrong, there was never, ever any credible evidence. I also supported and support our great Chief [of Police Greg] Allen. They wanted me to get him fired. I would not support Veronica’s naked attempt to take over the MPO. I suspect that my letter to the Inc. was the last straw for her and Susie. I was pro-business and supported our Chambers. I would not have had Escobar’s and Byrd’s support; and, if I had been re-elected, I certainly wouldn’t be carrying out their agenda.

Of course, we could ask Ms. Byrd and Ms. Escobar about all of this.



  1. Did Susie and Veronica also write his blogs slamming his former opponent Romero? Did they also write his letter to Ruth Chris? Did they tell him to change his mind on Duranguito 2-3 tmesbor to call a constituent an ass? There’s no conspiracy here. It’s just political payback and Mr. Tolbert’s inabikity to man up and cop to his own dirty dealing.

  2. The City Manager form of government was approved and instituted years ago. It was an attempt to rein in reckless and uncoordinated spending by the various mayors and councilpersons. Every form of local government has its pitfalls, and this form is not without its faults. The benefit is that we do not have various special interest groups persuading Councilperson X to overspend in their behalf so that Councilperson Y doesn’t have sufficient funds to satisfy its special interest groups. Tolbert is correct however in his assessment of the “gotcha” attitude pervasive at the City and County government chambers. Now however we are seeing the “imperial” and “imperious” form of local government, who hides behind closed doors, evades Open Meeting Laws and rules by fiat and diktat. It has to stop. El Paso has no industry to support the “initiatives” of Council and Commissioners, so the residential taxpayers will take it in the shorts.

  3. Yes to what NoFool said. Tolbert is carrying water for Fenenbock, just as he carried water for Byrd. But he is doing it voluntarily, not because anyone made him. Tolbert is trying to hurt Escobar, but he is really hurting Fenenbock because he’s supporting her. Tolbert needs to get out of politics. Chavez will win this race.

  4. No news outlet in El Paso is ever going to ask a critical question of Byrd, Leeser, Niland, Escobar or any of their favorite progressives who seem to have a penchant for spending a tremendous amount of taxpayer money on the “right” causes. Does anyone question why we spend so much money on the bus/trolley system when ridership is down year-over-year? And still expanding it with more very-expensive Brio lines coming on line soon. If any reporter ever needed something to write about that would be something worth looking into. If the taxpayers are not getting a benefit from what will be $100 million per year transportation system who does benefit? Joyce Wilson’s “team” running Sun Metro? The Chihuahua owners with the dedicated trolley/busing schedule for games? Who else? I personally benefit zero from the El Paso public transit system and I have yet to see a single Brio bus full of people.

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