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Council to consider unscheduled evaluation of Gonzalez

The El Paso City Council will consider an unscheduled performance evaluation of City Manager Tommy Gonzalez before an ethics investigator finishes a review of the aborted search for a new financial adviser.

In the special meeting on Monday, Council is slated to talk about a “personnel matter” regarding Gonzalez.

“I’ve lost faith and trust in him and I’m not sure that the relationship can be repaired,” said City Rep. Claudia Ordaz last week in an interview.

Council members have said they plan to discuss with Gonzalez other performance issues not related to the search for a new financial adviser.

“I’m very disappointed in this council for doing this. It’s a disgrace,” said City Rep. Michiel Noe. He is opposed to evaluating Gonzalez before the investigation is finished. On ABC-7 Xtra on Sunday he said some council members had made false allegations against Gonzalez.

The Council last month hired ethics attorney Ross Fischer to investigate the search process for a new financial adviser, which Gonzalez authorized at the public suggestion of City Rep. Larry Romero. Romero has been scrutinized for not originally disclosing he had years before worked with Noe Hinojosa, the owner of Estrada Hinojosa which was competing for the financial adviser contract.

Romero has been out of city hall since three days before Christmas due to a medical condition. It’s unclear when he will return to city council meetings.

Some council members have been increasingly critical of Gonzalez since the financial adviser story gained public traction. City Rep. Cortney Niland, once one of the biggest supporters of council, has publicly questioned Gonzalez over other issues almost every week at regular council meetings.

Last week, Mayor Oscar Leeser and Niland questioned Gonzalez over news the City lost $900,000 in federal road funding for a roundabout in far east El Paso because city employees did not follow federal procedures.

Gonzalez said the error was made before he was hired and said he has been working to rebuild the engineering department, now called Capital Improvements, which city officials concede lacked processes and leadership.

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