KVIA has a version of the story HERE.
The El Paso Times has it HERE.
I'm really confused at the moment... If the border highway is closed during the visit; why can't people walk across the road and hang on the fence in an effort to see/hear the Pope? There may be a very good reason, but if the road is closed... well that's the thing I'd be worried about - people crossing a highway.... but the road is closed...
Whatever - it doesn't really matter because it's all very dumb. The fuss being made by the city where the Pope IS NOT VISITING is embarrassing and makes El Paso look terrible in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Here's what you need to gather from the argument over security here.
1. It appears the mayor's office took the point position with federal law enforcement on this matter back in December. The mayor's office also seems to have been working directly with local police and fire officials on the event
2. If point #1 is true that means the city manager was not involved in the management of the police and fire.
3. If point #1 and #2 are true that means protocol for management of city resources was broken. Mayor and council direct city manager on how they want things to go and a the city manager manages respective city departments in order to achieve that goal. In this case it's obvious the city manager was cut out of the process.
In all the hoopla over former Representative Romero's paving requests we learned that elected officials aren't supposed to go to city staff and direct them to do things. The popular opinion is that all directives must come from a vote of council and then the city manager will go take care of it.
So how was it that the mayor's office was able to go around the city manager and direct city staff to do something?
It will be interesting to see if Ordaz and her group point this out. They are behind the war on Rep. Romero and the city manager for the exact same behavior. If they were being fair, they'd be looking to add the mayor's office to that exclusive group getting their ire. However, they are likely going to be a little timid here given the city attorney's whooping applied to Rep. Ordaz for past discretions with the whole text thing.
In defense of Rep. Peter Svarzbein.... sure it would have been nice if council had had a heads up way back in December so they could have some input. He has a point about council's role in these types of situations.
In defense of the mayor... he had to do this unilaterally because council is a complete shit show. Mayor Leeser is wise to the fact that the current council has a penchant for turning every issue into a self-promoting political fight and that one of two things would happen:
- Nothing would be agreed upon and zero would get done and the city and its dysfunctional government would be on display for the entire world to laugh at.
- Council members would see this as an opportunity to buy support from constituents and would vote to spend tens of millions of dollars on the event (that they don't have). Let your mind go wild here - you know there's would have. We're talking erecting bleachers on the border highway and having city buses commandeered to take people to Juarez along with suspending the bridge tolls... And that's just the crap I heard yesterday from my sources!!!!!
Remember, at this time the drama with the city manager was in full swing. The mayor goes around the city manager here because he's not sure he'll be working for the city in next month or so.
Was what they mayor did right? Yes and no.
No because there are rules.
Yes because things needed to get done and chaos needed to be limited - so he chose to manage the situation himself.
Svarzbein makes good points, but he should also realize that his colleagues (not him to any degree, shockingly) have created an environment where the official process must be avoided in an effort to keep their egos from ruining the city.