It happened. El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez got canned Tuesday after 7 or 8 years on the job.
By his own account, and the accounts of his supporters, he was doing a bang up job.
Kind of makes you wonder how he was evaluated. The City’s share of taxes has risen every year for eight years under his tenure. His pay has increased from $285,000 when he was hired to $435,000 now. Our population growth has flatlined. We haven’t attracted any new businesses except call centers, and many businesses have left.
The streets are potholed. The libraries are only opened for reduced hours. Some of the rec centers aren’t open at all.
And that’s why Tommy Gonzalez got fired. He refused to abandon an economic development policy that has clearly failed.
They never explicitly called it an economic development policy. If they’d admitted that they were pursuing an economic development policy, then they would have to acknowledge that it wasn’t working. Instead, they called it Quality of Life.
“If we build these quality of life amenities,” they said, “then we can stop the brain drain. If we have more quality of life amenities, then we can attract new industry, and our best and brightest won’t have to leave town when they graduate.”
The City’s Economic Development policy can best be summed up by the dictum “If you build it, they will come.” The deus ex machina approach. Our intractable problem will be solved through divine intervention.
Of course, the Quality of Life projects haven’t brought any new industry to El Paso. They have, however, raised the tax bill of the average property owner. Higher taxes discourage new business in El Paso.
Tommy Gonzalez was hired in 2014 to develop the 2012 Quality of Life bond projects. He did that with gusto, adding more than $800 million to the city’s bond obligations without voter approval.
The bond projects escalated a class war declared by the leisure class against the working class. The poor people can’t afford the ballpark, or the water parks, and when the children’s museum is finished, the working class won’t be able to afford it, either.
We pay for it, and we pay to get into it.
But the leisure class thinks that capitalism means that everyone should do what’s best for them, and if what’s best for them is corporate socialism, they’re all for it. They’re looking at life through the soda straw lens of personal benefit.
I am a free market capitalist, but we’ve drifted a long way from free market capitalism.