The Strategic Plan of the City of El Paso – A Critique

It’s good to have a plan. Like the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

But the City’s plan is fatally, arrogantly, tragically flawed.

A good strategic plan has one overarching goal. The City’s Strategic Plan has eight goals. Too many goals. No ultimate destination. Like the famous Jewish philosopher said, “A man that has two masters serves one of them poorly.” If you have eight destinations, you really have no destination, and you’ll never know when you get there. A goal might be to maintain or expand services while containing costs. A goal might be to achieve economic development. While the City’s plan contemplates all those things, there is no final goal. The City’s Strategic Plan is all tactics and no strategy. With so many goals, how will we know when the plan is working and when it’s not?

Like the famous Mexican philosopher Jose Alfredo Jimenez said, “Hay que saber llegar.”

The City’s budget presentation predicts a shortfall in the years to come. Can you imagine a CEO giving that presentation to his Board of Directors in the private sector? He’d be looking for a job in a lot shorter interval than 120 days.

The City’s plan gives no consideration to the taxpayer. That would be like, in the private sector, giving no consideration to the customer.

It’s notable that the City’s Plan doesn’t address Costs, consider a Cost/Benefit Analysis, or Return on Investment. No private sector enterprise could do that, but the City can do that because the City has a captive market. All the City has to do is to raise taxes to cover its budget shortfall.

Of course, the market isn’t as captive as one might imagine. The Brain Drain has actually accelerated since the Strategic Plan was implemented.

One would think that reducing the citizens’ tax burden would be one of the Strategic Plan’s goals. But nuh uh.

If you’re a business you measure your success by goals. Market share, for instance, or profits, or brand value. The City measures it’s success by how hard it’s trying.

The City talks a lot about Quality of Life, but for most El Pasoans, their quality of life is dependent how much money they have after they pay their bills, if they have any money left over. And the City’s tax policies are pricing many El Pasoans out of meaningful decisions about their Quality of Life.

In short, though the City’s Strategic Plan is beautifully presented, and full of the right jargon, it falls short of being an effective strategic plan for the citizens of El Paso because it doesn’t even consider them. It only focuses on City Government in a vacuum.

I think it’s telling that the City’s values are encapsulated by the by the anagram I REAP, standing for Integrity, Respect, Excellence, Accountability, and People. I REAP, as though the citizens were there to be harvested. Maybe that’s a Freudian slip. Maybe they accidentally revealed their true intentions. I bet somewhere in the planning process I RAPE was proposed.


  1. Perhaps, when its comes to Taxes and Clueless City Council Members…Grim REAPer….

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