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City manager releases list of witnesses set to testify on his behalf during ethics hearing

Attorney Jim Darnell has released a list of witnesses who will testify on behalf of his client, embattled El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez, during an April 26th hearing.

According to the Respondent’s Witness List, Gonzalez will respond to all allegations made in an ethics complaint before the City of El Paso Ethics Review Commission.

In 2015, an ethics complaint was filed against Gonzalez and District 2 City Representative Larry Romero. The complaint involves the resurfacing of streets and alleys in Romero’s district not originally on a list approved by the city.

Polk Avenue in Central El Paso, where Romero lived at the time, was among the streets repaved. Romero and Gonzalez are also under fire for the installation of speed humps near Cathedral High School, Romero’s alma mater.

Romero resigned in December 2015 after suffering a stroke, but remains on “holdover status,” per state law, until voters in his district elect his replacement.

Earlier this month, the city’s Ethics Review Commission reprimanded Romero for his involvement in the street resurfacing controversy, concluding Romero used city resources for his own benefit.

Gonzalez’s witness list includes high ranking city officials and engineers who will mostly talk about the street list and the speed humps, not the aborted search for a new financial advisor.

Monica Lombraa, the Director of Capital Improvements with the City of El Paso, will talk about the feedback she received from city council members and their staff regarding the swapping of streets on the street resurfacing list.

Dr. Mark Sutter, the City of El Paso’s Chief Financial Officer, will explain how the resurfacing projects were budgeted and paid.

Ted Marquez, the Director of the City of El Paso Department of Transportation, will talk about street resurfacing and the installation of the speed humps in front of Cathedral High School.

Marquez is expected to testify he notified and received direction from Fred Lopez regarding street resurfacing. Lopez oversees the implementation of the city’s Capital Improvement Program, which includes street resurfacing and street reconstruction.

Lopez, according to the document, guided city representatives on tours of their districts so representatives could identify streets that needed resurfacing. During the tours, Lopez and the representatives discussed how he was to go about making changes to the list.

“Mr. Lopez explained that they gave each representative the plan from the 2012 Street Plan, and after receiving their requests, went back and reviewed them with staff to ensure that the swaps were appropriate,” states the Respondent’s Witness List.

Marquez will also testify he exchanged an email with Lopez regarding the speed humps and also testify he “did not notify the city manager of his opinion regarding the necessity of speed humps near Cathedral High School.”

Former City Representative Ann Morgan Lilly will testify about threats Lopez allegedly made against the city manager, according to the document.

Lilly is also expected to testify about how the city encountered problems with the 2012 resurfacing plan and how council requested some streets be removed from the list so that streets “that needed work more urgently” be included instead.

Richard Bristol, with the city’s street and maintenance department, is expected to testify about the source of funding for the speed humps and “how this was simply a common practice.”

City of El Paso Chief Internal Auditor, Edmundo Calderon, will testify about city records reflecting communication between Gonzalez, Lopez and Irene Ramirez in January of 2015. Ramirez is listed as Interim City Engineer in the city’s website.

Calderon will also talk about “Lopez’s performance issues,” according to the document.

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