Tommy Gonzalez in the Land of Second Chances

People who say that we had to give City Manager Tommy Gonzalez a $61,000 raise to keep another city from hiring him need to remember that he was damaged goods when we hired him, and a year on the straight and narrow doesn’t fix that.

[Dallas–Fort Worth television station WFAA] News 8 has obtained records which may support civil court allegations that Irving City Manager Tommy Gonzalez has been taking sports tickets and gratuities from vendors doing business with the City of Irving.

Since 2006, Tommy Gonzalez has navigated the city of Irving through turbulent times. City Council members showed their approval by making Gonzalez one of the highest-paid city managers in the nation, at an estimated $450,000 per year.

But e-mails obtained by News 8 indicate Gonzalez has been rewarded with more than his salary and benefits.

In April of 2008, the CEO of aircraft engine manufacturer Aviall, one of the largest employers in Irving, e-mailed Gonzalez, saying, “I didn’t forget your desire to take your family to a [Texas] Rangers-[Boston Red] Sox Game… compliments of me.”

Gonzalez responded, “Paul, great respect for a CEO that doesn’t forget about the small details, am very impressed.” Gonzalez took the tickets and attended the game.

Fast forward to an Irving City Council meeting Aug. 4, 2011. That s when Gonzalez urged the Irving City Council to award Aviall economic incentives and a 40-percent tax break.

El Paso is the land of second chances. When Alabama fired football coach Mike Price for buying his players table dances with the University’s credit card, UTEP scooped him right up. After Tim Floyd got dinged for NCAA violations at USC, he got the head coaching gig at Texas El Paso. And now we’re giving Mr. Gonzalez a second chance to be a City Manager after his previous employers terminated his contract because of allegations of corruption.

But with a second chance to succeed comes a second chance to fail. No one knows that better than Mr. Gonzalez.

Banking on nine more years of voter apathy is a dicey proposition. Sure, the current City Council might have all the backbone of a jelly fish, but elections occur with surprising frequency around here. And recent history shows that local elections can’t be guaranteed. The next crop of City Representatives might not be patsies.

Being legal isn’t enough for someone with Mr. Gonzalez’ pedigree. He needs to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Otherwise he might end up working the local job fairs for half of what he’s making now.

Good luck, Mr. Gonzalez. Don’t get caught up in someone else’s dirty business.

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