City of El Paso claims they did not violate state open meetings law

KDBC

City Manager Finalist decision made behind closed doors raises eyebrows

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 4:03pm

The City Of El Paso is denying allegations they violated state law. Their defense comes hours after naming a finalist for the sun city's city manager position. Claiming they did not take a vote but merely, came to a consensus to move forward.

What led to this confusion, City Attorney Sylvia Borunda Firth, claims stems from two press releases. The first one states – “City to Announce Next City Manager”. Officials corrected themselves almost two hours later, Monday, with a release – “city to announce next steps in city manager search."

The reason for this change - it's a violation of state law to take a vote behind closed doors. City Council has been vetting the final four candidates for city manager since last week. And announced a 'finalist' Monday afternoon. Tommy Gonzalez is that person but the City Attorney says the other three are still viable candidates if negotiations with Gonzalez fall through.

Firth claims the decision was not made after a vote was taken which would have been against the law.

“There was never a vote taken in executive session. Every body's correct that that's not allowed but there was a consensus of opinion of what the next step should be,” Sylvia Borunda Firth, City Attorney for El Paso said.

We tried speaking with council about the issue -- but they remain tight lipped. "That's an employee issue and I can't speak to that,” City Rep. Ann M. Lily, District 1 replied. Firth said they are working with Affion, the group handling negotiations between the city and Gonzalez. If the deal moves forward, Gonzalez, the controversial former city manager of Irving, Texas will be the city's second city manager.

He will be replacing Joyce Wilson who will remain in the seat until the next city manager takes over.

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