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El Paso Council asked to explain decision to oust Goodman from Downtown board

Some stinging editorials this weekfrom El Paso newspapers surrounding a vote by City Council.

Last week, City Council removed a man touted for his work to renovate Downtown from the Downtown Management District Board.

ABC-7 asked for an explanation Tuesday into Leonard “Tripper” Goodman’s sudden dismissal.

Council initially voted 6-2 to reappoint seven members, including Goodman, to the Downtown Management District Board.

Only representatives Lily Limon and Eddie Holguin dissented. But later in the meeting, Limon asked Council to reconsider Goodman’s reappointment. The vote changed to 4-3 to dismiss him, a decision some have called “shameful.”

“I was shocked, yes, very shocked,” said City Rep. Ann Morgan Lilly. The second vote came after Lilly had to leave the meeting to tend to an ill family member.

But she wasn’t the only one surprised by the decision. The El Paso Times and El Paso Inc also expressed their dismay.

The El Paso Times editorial board wrote: “Goodman has given a lot to El Paso over the years. He didn’t deserve the shabby treatment he got from City Council. There’s no justification for the political vindictiveness on display last week at City Hall.”

El Paso Inc publisher Tom Fenton wrote: “Shame on Council for the disgraceful and embarrassing way it singled out and dumped Goodman. In doing so, you embarrassed yourselves and the rest of us.”

City Rep. Dr. Michiel Noe also chimed in on the votes of four council members to get rid of Goodman: Lily Limon, Emma Acosta, Carl Robinson and Eddie Holguin.

“I think (Goodman’s) done great things for the City, but apparently there are some issues certain council members do have and they have not shared those with me personally,” Noe said.

Goodman declined comment on the decision, but he did tell ABC-7 that he was surprised by it and he has never met Rep. Limon.

“As far as the editorials, the media has the right to print whatever they want, as they do,” said Acosta, but wouldn’t say why she voted to oust Goodman. “This is something very personal between me and Mr. Goodman.”

ABC-7 also spoke with City Rep. Cortney Niland by phone. She said she, too, is embarrassed by Council’s actions. She added that all decisions on appointments should be made based on fact and qualifications, not personal issues.

Niland said when she asked Limon why she wanted Goodman out, Limon replied, “Because he lied to the community about the Ballpark.”

ABC-7 spoke with Limon by phone Tuesday afternoon about the decision to remove Goodman. She said it was not punishment for his work on the ballpark. She also said it was “absolutely not” about political vindictiveness.

“I want to see diversity, want different players at the table,” Limon told ABC-7 by phone Tuesday afternoon. “There was no meanness, ugliness or bad language. It’s an old story now. … No punishment intended.”

About Goodman, Limon said, “I believe he is a good citizen in this community. I have nothing against him.”

Limon said she was surprised by the backlash from the Goodman decision and was caught off-guard by the newspaper editorials.

She said she would consider Goodman for other positions.

Holguin told ABC-7 by phone Tuesday afternoon, “For me, what raised red flags was (representatives) Niland and Lilly did not want to allow the courtesy (to representative Limn) to vote separately. Why? Why were they pushing it through?”

He voted no for all of them together “because I don’t support the ballpark.”

ABC-7 News Director Brenda De Anda Swann contributed to this report

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