City Rep Larry Romero resigned from council allegedly for health reasons earlier this year, prompting the tax payers to have to fund a special election to replace him.
Yet he's still receiving a paycheck courtesy of the working families of El Paso because of the Texas Hold-over clause. City Reps Ordaz and Limón have been wanting to end that practice. In fact, Romero's biggest allies on Council have been Reps Acosta and Noe - I know, shocker!
Rep Ordaz asked the city attorney about excusing his absences at a meeting awhile back and Acosta chimed in and said that Romero's absences should be excused because he's sick, citing the fact that she trusts Rep Noe's opinion on the matter because Noe's a doctor.
At a more recent meeting Ordaz asked the City Attorney to check the provisions of the law and the charter to see if there was a mechanism whereby Romero would at least stop getting paid for doing a job he isn't doing anymore due to his health...allegedly.
In this photo I was able to obtain, at the very time council was meeting and he was excused for not attending due to his health (allegedly), Romero is seen boarding a plane for Dallas toting a copy of the El Paso Times and possibly a National Geographic.
You'll note the date and time of the photo.
Ordaz was the only member of council to vote against excusing the absence of Tuesday's meeting.
So what was the plane trip for? To see a specialist? Perhaps an important meeting for his business that he still runs?
He was apparently headed to the Master's Tournament according to a social media post I saw him tagged in this morning.
Mind you, he doesn't go to work for the people of District 2 anymore because of his health...allegedly, but here he is looking pretty good out on the fairway.
Obviously he has a right to vacation. He has a right to not go to work. No one expects him to be confined to a hospital bed while he convalesces.
But the vision is absolutely terrible. Families in El Paso working hard to make ends meet and they fund his paycheck. Meanwhile he's not on the job and is out on the fairway of the Master's Tournament.
The City Attorney has since come back to council with a method in which the absences will be taken up separately form the rest of the consent agenda and can be voted on by council separately. Then council will at least be on record of either supporting or not supporting the continuation of Romero getting paid by the taxpayers of El Paso. And council does have the authority to revoke his pay after three unexcused absences.
But here's a really important point to understand.
Romero - who is never available for comment from the media these days - doesn't HAVE to accept the pay. Anytime he wants to he can return the money. Or not accept it.
That doesn't take an act of council. But the fact that he still does, especially now that we know he's healthy enough to be at a hoighty-toighty golf tournament is unconscionable.
And so is council continuing to excuse his absences.
UPDATE: Romero's son has contacted me and indicates that the trip is for his 60th birthday, was a bucket-list type trip, and that he, not Larry, paid for the whole trip. He also indicates that Larry is having a difficult time walking the course and that he also paid for Larry's brother to attend as well to help him while traveling.