Thursday, January 15, 2015

City Cover-up of Christmas Tree Scandal in Full Swing

Click to enlarge. This photo was taken 1/9/15. Note the orange netting around the trunk of the tree. It should be around the drip line of the tree. (The drip line is the circumference of the tree below the farthest extended branches.) Note all of the trenching and concrete work inside of the drip line. Does anyone think that Engineering or anyone else from the City really heeded expert arborist advice?
Here's the word put out by the Public Affairs Coordinator of the City of El Paso's infamous Engineering Department:

"Good Evening Mayor Leeser and Honorable Members of the City Council:

As you know, the San Jacinto Plaza renovation project is garnering renewed media attention. We are responding to the questions as they come in. This is the information we are providing them broken down by topic:

  DECISION ON THE PINE TREE: Since learning from the City Arborist and other tree experts that the large pine tree in San Jacinto Plaza was damaged, the City of El Paso has carefully weighed all of its options to save it. The city’s assessment of all options on how best to save this valuable community asset continues. At this time, no decision has been made and we will continue to update the community as information becomes available.

  CARE OF THE PINE TREE: The City Arborist has been consulted on at least three occasions regarding the large pine tree at the Plaza.  After consultation with the arborist, an element of the project design was significantly altered to minimize large-scale damage to the Christmas tree.  The tree has been watered at least twice weekly since the beginning of the project. Additionally, a project arborist was retained by the contractor.

  PALM TREES: Eight palm trees were removed and salvaged by the contractor. The value of them (approximately $5,000/tree) was credited to the city."

Here's what we know:

Through several sources elpasonaturally knows that the advice by the City Arborist has largely gone unheeded. In fact, Engineering routinely does what it wants to do. Reaction from several persons who deal with Engineering regularly goes something like this: "Engineering is deaf.  They do what they want to do and they dare anyone at the City to take them on.  Irene Ramirez, the Director of Engineering, has a history of completely ignoring management when it suits her purposes and her staff protects her."

One City Council rep was advised about the lack of protection for the tree and that representative's concerns were ignored by both the Engineering Department and the Parks and Recreation Department.

More concerns were raised last spring. Again, those concerns fell on deaf ears.

Sadly, the response by the Public Affairs Coordinator for Engineering quoted above was most probably dictated by management.

The cover-up has begun. (And it's not going to work.)

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