Monday, November 26, 2012

Time to Stop Making Excuses for City Manager Joyce Wilson

Based on a series of emails that have surfaced in recent weeks, I think that its time that the El Paso City Council stop making excuses for City Manager Joyce Wilson.

Not only do I think that they should stop making excuses, but I also think they should fire her. And if they don't, I think the voters should hold the members of council responsible for not doing so.

This isn't a matter of disagreeing on policy anymore. I assure you, if it were I would be saying that if you don't have the votes, but your big-boy pants on and deal with the outcome. But this isn't about policy. This is about a City Manager, who is not directly accountable to the people of El Paso, doing what appears to me to be over-stepping her role as a City Manager.

That is not something that members of council should simply shrug off or sweep under the rug. We have a serious problem here and it needs to get fixed. I think city council is on the right track right now, but having a boat anchor in terms of public support like Joyce Wilson is only going to stunt our growth and progression.

Maria Garcia of KVIA did this package yesterday and its pretty eye-opening. Frankly the arrogance of the City Manager and City Rep Ann Lilly are on full display. The subject of the piece is an email that Wilson sent to Lilly, but when you look at another email, its clear to me that Wilson seems to desire more power than what is given to her by the City Charter. One has to wonder what anyone's motives are when they want more power.

Especially when that person is not directly accountable to the voters.

Here is the email at the center of the controversy:

Wilsons' reaction to questions about the emails is the classic pobresita ploy my daughters give me when they are in trouble. Sorry, there may be a witch hunt, and I may think that most of the opposition are backward-thinking idiots who are contrarian for the sake of being so, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Check your watches people, this is one of those times.

"..Now we're having to nick-pick and explain every word we're using..." is Wilson's reaction to emails that have been made public that show (above) the fact that Wilson directed a city council member to put an item on the agenda.

Many, myself included, would see that move as exceeding her duties as the City Manager. A point she alludes to herself when she says, "...Council is very sensitive about staff initiating policy..." Wilson then turns around and does just that in the email.

City Rep Eddie Holguin sums it up best when he responds in the piece by saying, "...the city representatives are the ones that come up with policy and its her job to implement policy, not the other way around..."

Unlike most of the opposition I don't think Ms. Wilson is the devil incarnate. I've spoken with her and she's a nice person who seems 100% well-intentioned. But that isn't my point. My point is she's already had a couple of strikes against her based on her characterization of members of council, her bosses, and members of the public, who pay her salary and are her ultimate boss.

At this point, its irresponsible for people to continue to make excuses for her actions. I think had this taken place in any other Texas municipality Ms. Wilson wouldn't still be around.

"I don't think its any of his business. Its between her and me." was the response by Rep Lilly to Holguin's assertion that Wilson is over-stepping her bounds.

No Representative Lilly, you are incorrect. Its his business, and its the community's business because we are your bosses. The public has a right to know, as demonstrated by the fact that this information came to light through FOIA in the first place.

I am frankly shocked by the arrogance of Lilly's posture.

I actually agree with Wilson when she says that they have done honorable work and that nothing has been shady or under-handed. That isn't the point. The point is that the integrity of the process has been called in to question and has been compromised by her actions. The very appearance that a non-elected official staff member is attempting to interject themselves in to policy making compromises the work of city council.

And if members of city council haven't figured it out yet, Wilson will end up being a campaign issue if she's not gone by election season. Don't roll the dice on this one, Wilson is a negative campaigner's wet-dream.


But wait, there's more...

As if the previous email wasn't bad enough, here is another email that actually concerns me more because it has a tie-in to EPISD.

One of the problems with EPISD was the auditing process. If you want a good and reliable audit, they can't report to their own boss! A good auditor will report to the City Council, much like the County does. But as you can see in this email, Wilson didn't want that at all.

That makes me VERY suspicious of the process. Its difficult to evaluate tone in an email, but the first sentence certainly appears to me like someone who doesn't want power taken away. The second sentence makes it pretty clear that she believes that an internal auditor should report directly to her. I'm sure you see the problem with such an idea. The fourth sentence actually reminds me of a saying in the Army we used to have when we were told to do something by some know-nothing officer. Don't confuse your rank with my authority. Although were always wrong on that statement.

The seventh sentence is the one that I find the most interesting, but I'll have to go and check out video from that time frame to figure out why she was of the opinion that she needed her own lawyer.

The agenda for tomorrow's meeting has an item on it that is basically going to be an opportunity for the minority members of council to wag their finger at Wilson, but I doubt anything serious comes of it.

But now is the time for bold leadership from Council. Its time to move towards another city manager so that the city can move forward. In a city that is fatigued by a lack of trust in local government, its imperative that steps be taken to improve that sentiment.

City council, you're up to bat....


Lindsey said...

Budget hearing. City Manager hearing. It is in regards to the shufting to Three Deputy City Managers and elevating the Chief Financial Officer to be the equivalent to a DCM. Also moving the internal audit section from a stand alone function to under City Manager.

I don't know why anyone is shocked Wilson and Niland are mean girls. They bully and intimidate on the regular. Can't wait for more to come out.

jackie said...

I'm not sure how El Paso will ever overcome the stigma of corruption. so many people complain about the corruption but do nothing to change the status quo.

Ann Lilly is the epitome of out of touch. the time stamps between those emails are 2 minutes. unless she's a speed reader, I doubt she read the whole thing before she replied. the fact of the matter is, she is a puppet. whether its for Wilson, or other people willing to take on the decision (and policy) making duties for her. as her constituent I'm disgusted and can't wait to do something about it.

I'm interested to know where Steve Ortega stands on this whole debacle...

Anonymous said...

Steve Ortega says its a mistake abd uts fine. They'll never fire her. They lack the ciurage to stand up to her. And FYI, the Freedom of Information Act is a federal law. In this case, state law applies: the Texas Open Records law. Subtle technicality but important one.