Monday, November 23, 2015

Times Editorial Calls for Rep Romero's Resignation

"Romero has breached the public trust, and must resign."

In a bold and unprecedented move yesterday, the Editorial Board of the El Paso Times called for the resignation of a sitting elected official, City Rep Larry Romero.

At first I thought it might have been the first time they called for the resignation of an elected official that wasn't under indictment. Hell I don't even think they called for the resignation of any of the Gandaras, which is saying a lot, especially considering former Socorro City Rep Jesse Gandara had been arrested multiple times in about a month time-span. So the fact that they called for Romero's resignation is certainly noteworthy.

KVIA reported on the call for the resignation of City Rep Romero but they received no comment from Rep Romero. City Council's meeting for this week was canceled due to the holiday, so unless media call him or visit him at his home or office, its unlikely Romero will have to face the media on this issue until next month.

Talk about waiting out a news cycle.

The only other time that I can recall the Times calling for resignations of sitting elected officials was EPISD during their cheating debacle.

But this is the first time I can recall that a single member of an elected body as high up the food chain as city council has been asked to step down by the newspaper.

I'm sure some will down play the significance of such a move but as a community we should take this recommendation seriously. The Times has done several stories over the last few weeks that have underscored several actions taken by Romero that were at the very least, a sign of the fact that he very frequently circumvents established procedures set by the city.

In an editorial that ran on Sunday called An Awful Mess at El Paso City Hall, the paper outlined several recent problems and focused primarily on an effort to replace the city's financial advisor. The paper said they'd done an investigation that revealed that Romero was a business partner of the firm that was going to receive the city's contract for financial advisor services.

The editorial piece says Romero directed that the current contract which was only about half-over be terminated and the city was all set to give the contract to a former business partner of City Rep Romero.

And Romero notified no one of his connection to the firm. Also included in the piece is mention of an effort by Romero to set up a meeting with former city manager Joyce Wilson, whom he hadn't disclosed his financial relationship with the firm to but the paper says Romero had better luck setting up the meeting with city manager Tommy Gonzalez.

The same Tommy Gonzalez that has a business relationship with City Rep Romero's brother.

The same Tommy Gonzalez that City Rep Romero pushed through a raise that is more than twice the annual salary of an average El Pasoan.

The same Tommy Gonzalez he went to in order to get streets paved that weren't on the council-approved plan (a move that was first characterized as "corruption" by one of his closest allies on council before it was walked-back) and the same Tommy Gonzalez he turned to in order to get speed humps installed on streets that shouldn't have them in front of his alma mater.

Part of the role of journalists is to keep government in check and the El Paso Times has had a big focus on the failings of local government over the last few years. That is healthy for our community.

So what happens to Romero from here? My guess is nothing. I highly doubt that Romero will resign. His political career is over. There is no way he would survive a re-election bid which is still a couple of years away so in essence District 2 will have a lame duck representing them for the next couple of years and his effectiveness is now severely compromised.

The best hope for the district was a recall effort that had a lot of potential but was abruptly abandoned by Adam Gurrola the day after it was filed. That botched effort has probably eliminated Gurrola as a potential candidate for anything now as well, which is a shame but something he must have deeply considered before abandoning a cause he was pushing.

But in retrospect, I would imagine the circumstances leading to Gurrola's sudden reversal will also likely get scrutiny from the media now.

Unless another recall effort happens District 2 will be in limbo for a couple of years.

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