Why Tommy Gonzalez Got Fired

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.


  1. So, does anyone here think that they will really change direction, with the hiring of yet another money drain? Put this crap together with the State’s claim to be passing legislation to provide a property tax cut, and we still get bupkus, and we – the poor taxpayers – will still be left holding the bag.

  2. I hear a lot of complaints and critiques and no proposed solutions. I wonder why EP never seems to be able to put together an aggressive PR campaign to bring in tourists from around the nation and the world. I live in Denver now…never seen an ad anywhere promoting El Paso tourism, the only news I see is all bad news….mass shootings, immigration debacles, etc. That shit has to be dealt with and countered. There are PR professionals that can pump positive images of El Paso and inspire people to visit the REAL OLD WEST, see the historicity, take in the natural wonders of the area, eat the best damn Mexican food in the country, stay at some of the most beautiful and historic hotels in the country…on and on and on. Tourism is the only viable first step back to relevance and tax revenues that I see….and I’m not seeing it. And who did EP hire to get their fair share of the infrastructure money? Clean up the border area, build the migrant infrastructure, restore the historic buildings and areas with an eye towards tourism. If Europeans knew what we had here, at a fraction of the costs to visit San Antonio, Tucson, San Diego, et al I think they’d come in droves and businesses would follow. Where is our Technology District? The only way to capitalize on what we have is to share it with others. The only way to pay off the Quality of Life bonds is with tax revenues from tourist spending so WHERE ARE THE TOURISTS?

    1. I appreciate your input, but tourism won’t save us. Even if it increased tenfold, it wouldn’t be enough.

      The problem with El Paso’s marketing strategy is that it’s controlled by the Hotel and Motel Association, and those guys are bunch of middle managers whose biggest fear is losing their jobs. They’ll never deploy the kind of edgy, effective, marketing strategy it will take to sail El Paso out of the doldrums.

      That, and they keep giving the contracts to the same old good old boys. Remember “It’s All Good”? Yeah, well it wasn’t good then, and it’s not good now.

  3. We pay way too much in property taxes to have a city manager that’s gets raises and makes more than a president. That’s non-sense and City council is just as guilty for allowing it. Fire everybody and start fresh

  4. Not surprising, Mayor Dee and Adair Margo—the self proclaimed “First Lady of El Paso,” wrote a letter to the Editor of the EP Times…They are indignant and stomping their boots and Manolo’s! They want the folks on city council who voted to terminate Gonzales to be RECALLED! They go on to write so much BS. How Tommy took care of the Wal Mart shooting. Really? What did he do? I thought the EL Paso PD handled the crime scene. And, even now, the Yvonne Rosales fiasco still lingers over El Paso. What has Tommy done about that? Also, how El Paso is the most inoculated city in Texas. Really? I would give kudos to the Health Dept or Mayor for urging people to get their Covid shots. What exactly did Tommy do about that? And, finally how we have a strong Bond rating. O.K. they conveniently forget to mention how El Paso the Highest property tax rates in Texas and, I have pointed this out before, and Professor Max, made it a point. But, El Paso is stagnant. While the rest of Texas grew at 3 times the rate of El Paso over the last 10 years. Then the Margo’s have the cojones to say how El Paso is “taking big muscular to live, work and invest. I kid you not. If so, why has El Paso stagnated? What huge companies have moved here? Yes, Amazon built a huge warehouse, but that is due to folks sitting in their pajamas and ordering online. Nothing to do with Tommy. Really And, the Elephant in the room, is Gonzalez’s incredibly outrageous salary PLUS perks. He’s already making $431,000. And, the citizens of El Paso pay $500 for a car allowance? Or, $40,000 for an annual checkup in Dallas. Why doesn’t he get one in El Paso at one our fine hospitals, like every other City employee? According to the Margo’s, isn’t El Paso a muscular place to live–including our Healthcare? To put Gonzalez’s salary in perspective, lets compare his to San Antonio’s. A city of about equal Hispanic population and with the beneficiary of El Paso’s brain drain. Their city manager is paid $312,000, and oversees and $3.4 Budget. El Paso’s Budget is slightly over ONE Billion. SA has 13,400 City Employees while El Paso has 5,019 City Employees. Last year’s City Council ran and gave Tommy an incredible increase just because he was ONE out of the 4 Finalists for the same position in Frisco. Even though his contract was not set to expire until 2024. People are lamenting how much it will cost the city for Tommy to go away. They are not taking into consideration how much money the good citizens of El Paso would have to pay him until 2029, especially those incredible Perks! Better to cut the losses, hire a good City Manager from within the ranks or else find one from an equally sized city…such as Laredo, Tucson, etc. Tommy actually started in Harlingen, so I am sure there is talent out there, where they could be paid around $300,000 and None of the outlandish perks Gonzalez enjoys. A “supposedly” good City Manager would have developed a strong bench in terms of leadership within the ranks of El Paso. Get one of those folks. Finally, Tommy changed the city charter so that Karla Nieman, the City Attorney reports to him, and NOT City Council. It is a case of the tail wagging the dog.

  5. Why would Tommy Gonzales need to have health care coverage at all as a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel? Isn’t the new Beaumont Hospital, Tricare for Life and the VA good enough for him like it is for the rest of the military retirees, crushed by high property taxes, that call El Paso home? Pretty soon, El Paso will start losing many of the 48,000 retirees plus family members when they leave for more affordable locations. Without the growth at Fort Bliss and spin-off jobs in the civilian sector that happened in 2006 through 2008 before Tommy Gonzales arrived, El Paso population would be perhaps have150,000 fewer people today due to fewer soldiers, retirees, and businesses that depend on soldiers and soldier family members. There would have certainly been less population, likely about 1994 levels. We lost representation in the state house as it is. You don’t need to understand rocket science to understand where the city would be without Fort Bliss. In 2016 apartment complexes were overbuilt in response to developers rushing to fill the so-called shortage due to Fort Bliss Expansion. Any shortage in apartments now can be attributed to lack of affordable homes. Around 2,000 homes are short term rentals now, many managed by out-of-towners who are currently vigorously opposed to paying occupancy taxes that unfair hurt hotels, degrade neighborhoods and surrounding home values., and encourage illicit activity. Our city is five years behind the curve on these. El Paso should continue recent momentum and continue to elect and hire those that genuinely care about hard working and loyal El Pasoans. None of the elites have put one thin dime in the average taxpayers pockets. But they are the first to scream when the average taxpayer elects those that will hopefully do a better job of cutting the elite social welfare. The new representatives have been in office scarcely a month and obnoxious elites are screaming for recalls. How about elites do this: Do average El Pasoans that have been getting an ever worsening screwing over a break and just leave El Paso for another city that will tolerate your brand of BS. I would bet none will because they know of no other city that would do as El Paso has, and cling to the hope of turning it back around to their self indulgent behavior at the expense of average taxpayers that have loyally supported their lifestyle of the rich and famous.

  6. To: Mr. William Hall…I Totally agree, and I forgot Wm. Beaumont Army Medical in El Paso. The Cooper Clinic is an “Executive Health Spa,” or “Concierge Service” oriented. That means Executive fat cats go a yearly health exam, at an inflated price, and the citizens of El Paso pick up the hugely inflated tab. If Gonzalez felt that Beaumont is not up to his standards, then there was always SAMMC, formerly known as Brooke Army Medical Center. But combined with Wilford Hall US Air Force. For those unaware, SAMMC stands for San Antonio Military Medicine Center. The ONLY Level 1 Trauma Center in the Army, the best NICU within the combined DOD. Where every combat medic is trained. The ONLY burn hospital in the military, I could go on. The point is, it is an Excellent Hospital for everyone, and not just a place for Executive’s. It is a moot point, since Gonzalez is on his way out. But, if Gonzalez was uncomfortable with anything besides the Cooper Clinic, then let him pay for out of his bloated salary. I sincerely hope that the dissenting City Council members get the message. The people of El Paso are Tired of these toys for the elite. The Chihuahua Stadium which is not able to support itself, and over priced water parks where a water shortage is looming over the horizon.

  7. I’m glad he’s going. Now let’s move on. What irks Dee Margo the most is the handwriting on the wall that says the era of big giveaways to his buddies is over for now. If we can get the campaign finance charter amendment passed, it is over for good. Meanwhile, there is the freeway deck boondoggle to worry us.

  8. Could it have something to do with auctioned vehicles of 174 active duty military while oversees serving the American people…the DOJ is currently investigating as the law was broken without any approvals.

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