Saturday, February 2, 2013

CCR 02-02-13: Great Balls of Fire

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

          The following is an item as it appears on the February 7, 2013, city council agenda.  Should the council not take action on the city manager’s contract, then it will automatically renew for three additional years with all of the ‘goodies’ and exorbitant salary (newly revised calculation to over $500,000+) that has escaped close scrutiny by the council for the past several years. 

City Council Agenda
28  Resolution  -  Giving Notice that the Employment Agreement Dated June 12, 2008 with Tomas Gonzalez Shall Not Automatically Renew and Shall Expire May 1, 2013

     Contrary to what may be said at this council meeting, alluded to by staunch supporters encouraged by the chamber of commerce, or promoted as reasons for the council not to take this action, one thing should be noted.  This agenda item does not have anything to do with:

  • Ethnicity of the city manager
  • Popularity of the city manager
  • Number of supporters mustered (with assistance provided by the chamber of commerce and maybe even a city staff member meeting with local activists) to speak in favor of the manager’s contract
  • Awards the city has received for many efforts that were in place even before the manager’s hiring

     The agenda item does reflect that the city council must put politics aside, and deal with the real issue at hand...the city manager’s actual performance.  And while there are many factors that can measure performance, the issue should boil down to his actual leadership in the discharge of his of fiduciary responsibilities.  The basic question that should be asked is: Would this be the calibre of activity and performance you would expect or want from the individual running your business?  Especially, if they had the following baggage:

  • Responsible for the $51 million Heritage District folly of Lubbock developer Delbert McDougal that is now a burden on tax payers
  • The cronyism of accepting the resignation and then re-hiring ex-fire chief Molina for an unlisted and unadvertised position at an annual salary of $161,000 for ‘grant-fiction’ writing
  • Having sporting event tickets placed under his front door mat provided by a vendor doing business with the city
  • Having a sporting event ticket provider hired as a consultant for another firm doing contract work for the city
  • Overseeing a business firms tax abatement passage for a company that previously provided sporting event tickets
  • Utilizing city staff to obtain tickets and hotel accommodations from outside parties for family vacations
  • Important city information suddenly “disappearing” from his BlackBerry when requested by the DMN 
  • Unaudited Entertainment Center expenses approved by “unnamed city officials” totaling $4 million
  • The duplicitous and near conspiratorial relationship between the city manager and the chamber of commerce president that funneled $600,000 Texas Stadium sign revenue to the chamber for leasing a Cowboys Stadium suite
  • Questionable payment of chamber of commerce expenses with city funds
  • The law suit against the city that characterizes the city manager as being responsible for the collapse of the Entertainment Center project
  • City documents that were identified as not available, but later appeared when the issue was pressed for explanations
  • Criminal complaint documents filed with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office
  • Not providing the council with accurate documentation or complete funding details on city manager ‘special’ projects 
     Sadly, to achieve the above standard of “performance” and apparent mismanagement, the city manager’s salary/benefit package is over $500,000.*  If looking to thank anyone for this gross expenditure of city funds, credit should start with: ex-mayor Gears for personally recruiting Gonzalez to Irving and vouching for him to the other council members; former council member Joe Philipp for handling the original contractual structuring; and all the council members who blindly voted in support of this overextended agreement.  

     Readers of the CCR will note that most of the items listed above as shortcomings have been documented in our previous reports.  What makes this upcoming council meeting and the non-renewal of the manager’s contract even more critical are the additional issues raised in a report** (see below links detailing the criminal complaint filed against the city manager with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office) by Brett Shipp of WFAA-TV.  Not only are the items documented in the WFAA-TV report very disturbing, but they reflect the total lack of transparency required by citizens for the individual entrusted to run the affairs of the city...the city manager.  

     Since no staff member of the CCR is a lawyer, a legal opinion will not be rendered regarding the TV reports.  Needless to say, these activities were apparently being conducted by the person the council placed in charge of running the city’s business.  The opinion of the staff of the CCR would, however, be that these activities should make for a short tenure of employment for this individual.  As to any criminality, the courts can handle that.

     As you later read or see reports in the media concerning this council agenda item, expect those shouting the loudest and espousing items that have nothing to do with the performance of the city manager to attempt to sway the discussion.  Again, what the “cheerleading crowd” will not address are the issues of performance, transparency, ethical standards, and activities that could verge on being criminal.  Meaning: ethnicity and popularity of the city manager should not be considerations for this debate February 7th!

     At this time, the city council would be wise to heed the old adage of “where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  And in the case of the city manager’s contract and employment, there appears to be a forest fire smoldering at city hall that could raze the facility if not extinguished.  If council members cannot smell the acrid smoke wafting throughout the city, then one should question their ability to carry out the responsibilities that they were elected to perform.

     The city council must take the first step to extinguish this toxic employment-blaze and move forward with new leadership in the city manager’s position.  Otherwise, the city council may not find any carrier able to provide fire insurance coverage for the balance of its citizens concerns for the next three years. 

  •   Compensation: The Gonzalez compensation package includes base pay, bonus pay, club memberships, retirement fund contributions, car allowance, reimbursements for “business” meals, travel allowances, life insurance, health insurance, housing allowance, bilingual pay, longevity pay, organizational memberships, accrued vacation pay, dry cleaning, nanny service, wardrobe allowance, tennis balls, racquet restringing, Lubbock Mafia dues, dog grooming products and a new ‘magic’ front door mat to replace the worn out one. (OK, some of these are not part of his compensation package.  Just wanted to see if y’all read the footnotes.) 

**  Reports:  Brett Shipp, WFAA-TV, Ch 8
January 31, 2013
February 1, 2013

        Brandon Formby, DMN
January 31, 2013

Council Contact Information to Register Your Concerns
(e-mail, phone numbers, place and year term expires) 972-898-7500 Beth Van Duyne Mayor 2014                469-450-0444 Tom Spink Place 6 2015                972-259-2626 Joe Putnam Place 4 2015        972-871-0019 Rose Cannaday Place 5 2014 972-586-1490 Michael GallawayPlace 1 2013 214-460-1990 Brad LaMorgese Place 8 2015        214-929-6700 Roy Santoscoy Place 2 2013        214-490-9749 Dennis Webb Place 3 2014        972-523-0784 Gerald Farris Place 7 2013