By Samara Florin
In response to extending City Manager Tommy Gonzalez’s already overstuffed contract, one City Council representative said that it was about keeping talent here in El Paso.
If extremely high wages are necessary to keep talent in our government, why are professionals with doctorates and master’s degrees making such a small amount of money compared to Gonzalez and the deputy city managers? For example, jobs posted for veterinarians only start at $73,230.35. Librarians, who must have a master’s degree, start at $40,344.68.
The city has job descriptions for positions that are in the same pay grades that do not require their types of higher education. Obviously, the city does not care about retaining all talent.
At a recent high school event, Gonzalez said to the graduates and audience that he deserved what he is paid and that the graduates should demand the same.
Gonzalez has a contract where he is paid more than the president of the United States. If he leaves for any reason, he gets a cool million. We pay for his travel expenses. In addition, Gonzalez and other high-ranking city officials get a mileage allotment.
Did they ask? Did we as citizens get to weigh in on whether we believed this was the best way to spend our money? No.
Instead, the City Council called an emergency meeting and decided for us. (Mayor Oscar Leeser vetoed the City Council action on Wednesday.)
The city cares only about retaining Tommy Gonzalez. They don’t have plans to significantly increase salaries for other city employees. There is no talk of helping employees with mileage.
Starting wages are now at a “whopping” $11 or so an hour. Gonzalez makes around $200 an hour. Every city employee knows at least one other person working for the city that relies on food stamps, or other forms of assistance to make ends meet.
Is this what the city considers rewarding talent? I don’t think so.
Samara Florin is an aspiring poet and proud to be from El Paso.